July 13, 2001 - Pedals for Progress wins Rolex Award

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By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 5:38 pm: Edit Post

"Pedals for Progress" receives Rolex Award

Read and comment on this story from the Work Bike Web Site on Pedals for Progress at:

"Pedals for Progress" receives Rolex Award *

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"Pedals for Progress" receives Rolex Award

In countries where cars are beyond the means of most people and even bicycles are expensive and scarce, economic development is hampered by a lack of mobility. While serving in the Peace Corps, American teacher and carpenter David Schweidenback saw how owning a bicycle could radically change a poor person's life. He founded "Pedals for Progress", a non-profit organisation that collects thousands of discarded bikes in the United States each year and ships them to developing countries, where they are repaired and sold for a low price. This affordable transportation improves productivity and helps bring prosperity to local communities

In the United States, Americans purchase 17 million bicycles a year, many of them upgrading to more technically advanced or trendy models. Concurrently, 14 million bikes are discarded, about five million ending up in landfills, the rest gathering dust in garages and basements. In developing countries, on the other hand, bicycles represent low-cost, non-polluting tools for sustainable economic development. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, Ghana and Madagascar, for instance, bicycles not only convey people to work and school, they are also used to transport produce to market, haul trash and deliver health services. Many of the bicycles in these and hundreds of other examples have reached their destination thanks to the enterprising spirit of David Schweidenback, the American founder and president of "Pedals for Progress".

For the past nine years, Schweidenback, 47, has been the driving force behind this non-profit organisation that gives a new lease on life to discarded bicycles by delivering thousands of them each year to the developing world. This relatively simple idea, which has dramatically changed the lives of countless individuals in Latin America and Africa, has earned Schweidenback the title of Rolex Laureate.

"Owning a bicycle is a real sign of progress in developing countries where bikes are scarce and overpriced and a high percentage of the population walk everywhere they go," says Schweidenback, who experienced this situation first-hand during his two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Schweidenback left his position as a teacher in Dartmouth, Massachusetts in 1977 to serve as a Peace Corps land surveyor in Ecuador. Through his work with an Amazonian Indian federation, he soon realised that one of the principal obstacles to development was that most people lacked a means of transportation. He saw, too, how a bicycle - often taken for granted in the developed world - can make a notable difference to an individual's quality of life and productivity in a country such as Ecuador.

This was made particularly apparent by his Ecuadorian landlord, a successful carpenter who, as the only person in town with a bicycle, was able to service customers for miles around. "Business is the movement of goods and services," Schweidenback comments, "the faster the movement, the greater the level of business. In developing countries, successful entrepreneurs are those who use bicycles to deliver goods and services where they are needed most, allowing them to expand their businesses and increase their incomes." In 1991, back in the United States and working as a private contractor and carpenter in New Jersey, Schweidenback spotted several discarded bicycles on the roadside. Remembering his Peace Corps experience, he decided to send them to Latin America. To boost numbers, he convinced the local newspaper editor to run an appeal for used bicycles on the front page. The response was overwhelming and Schweidenback, who was expecting about a dozen bicycles, received over 140. Pedals for Progress was born. A full-time venture for the Rolex Laureate since 1994, Pedals for Progress has delivered to date more than 34,000 bicycles to 21 countries, and numbers are rising steadily.

Schweidenback's associates attribute the success of Pedals for Progress to his vision, tenacity and capacity for work, as well as his resourcefulness in managing all stages of the project almost single-handedly. More modestly, he credits the organisation's growth to a proven business model that involves a close-knit network of people around the world.

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By Peter Cooney on Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 4:53 pm: Edit Post

hi my name is Peter and im a carpenter, id like to get involved with your program. im looking travel and help people.
if you could pass some information to me it would be great,
thanks Peter Cooney

Ps where would someone send a bike if he wanted to donate one or more ??

By mohsen hashemi on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - 12:03 pm: Edit Post

In the name of God

Dear Sir,

I , Mohsen HASHEMI am a small member of human society and also a member of Cycle Tourist Committee.

Any time I hear about a war anywhere in the world, I will become unhappy and ask myself what can I do for prevention from this mass massacre and incurring damages to children.

Having these ideas in my mince cycled from Tehran to two crisis-stricken countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 9 years ago and Afghanistan in 7 years ago. Although I cycled the whole Afghanistan with the hope of finishing quarrel and snore of warriors and making children happy. However, in Herzegovina, the frontier guards, prevented from my passage in boundary of Metkovich and my travel remained incomplete. Even UN authorities apologized me because I wasnot supported by an organization.

Gaining these experiences, I came to this conclusion that only the cooperation of different nations can be effective, so that we take steps towards peace and tranquility.

In this direction, I have a proposal which causes to take even a small step towards peace and tranquility in Israel-Palestine country.

This proposal is based on interests of groups and peoaple and coordinating of them from all over the world who would like to finish massacre and to prevent from incurring injuries to sinless people, to ride on a bicycle or without-engine vehicles and all join together in a certain city like Cairo. After joining together, they move towards Israel-Palestine border and enter into this country with the permission and coordination of Israel-Palestine, if possible. Otherwise, this group can perform two symbolic movements. All of them go round the borders of this country or they form a human ring with a distance of a few kilometer from each other and waiting for end of the violence so that this at least causes that in future, the new generation, understand the worry of the world from massacre and to make a better tomorrow for themselves.

In the case that you agree the main subject, you are kindly requested to propose any direction or time scheduling or any comments

Also if you know groups or people who are interested in the program, please forward this letter

In writing this letter, I hope you will help me in world coordination and sympathy for execution of this proposal. Because, we need a vast coordination in order to approach success for this project.

At the end, I hope the world takes steps towards peace and tranquility.

With best regards


By Robert Alan Swanson ( on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 11:19 pm: Edit Post

I wrote a letter to the peddles/ for a bike...but never got a reply..I need a real bicycle...there are no bikes real ones in the philippines and in my city that I live///Roxas city...I would like to sell bikes....can you send me some....
robert a. swanson
c/o: Post Master
Roxas City
Philippines 5800

By antry (netblock-72-25-65-207.dslextreme.com - on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 7:52 am: Edit Post

i need one light mountain bike i live in the usa. can you help

By swanson (netblock-72-25-65-88.dslextreme.com - on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 5:09 pm: Edit Post

i applied for a rolex award. even though i cant get a real bike in the philippines. my friends in the philippines need a real bicylce even the racing type light weight or the mountain bike type with disc brakes and a cate eye. I told everone in the philippines there are no bicycles. maybe it is becuase of the secret underground tunnels with aliens and yamashita treasure the governments dont want us to find out. think of it find a tunnel with a real bike then make the tunnel into a transit system. stop the traffic problem. like the usa i live in los angles a real traffice problem but did the government block the inportation or exportation of riding bikes for the sure reason they want to claim the underground dulce base for there own....after they kill the aliens then they open the tunnels up to clear the traffice problem in los angles. Like to be part of the new transit system. I applied for the rolex award...they all heard me about no bikes...in the third world countries now the peace core gets the grant but i now applies 2 times for the award....with the use of a spoke or the dowsing rod to locate tunnels water land mines and save lives. i can even find people and how about the other solar system simple just turn the rod upside down and you beam into the planet but i located the base solar system of the aliens a 80 to 90 percent probilty from the ground sytem in california. looks lik the same star chart of there map in the ground. but plenty of contacts out there simple with the L rods spanish type with witness chambers. my project is for dowsing the yamashita treasure of which plenty in the philippines. but waiting to see if i get my grant money for my project, trying to contact the rolex awards for the confirmation that i'm in the usa trying to save money...to by a lasser scanner if you can contact rolex let them know i'm in los angles...

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