The best place to start, of course, would be the Bamboo Bike Project. The goals of this group are: To build a better bike for poor Africans in rural areas and to stimulate a bicycle building industry in Africa to satisfy local needs. "We have determined," they say, "that it is possible to source the material and supplies necessary to build a bamboo cargo bicycle in Africa, and train the local people to build the bikes."
The next steps are:
1. To set up systematic bamboo cargo bike building training
2. To set up a supply chain of necessary parts and supplies
3. To scale the effort so that it makes an impact
Calfee Design explains that bicycles can be "built using bamboo for the main tubing elements. Bamboo is a surprising strong material and has great vibration damping characteristics. It is used routinely in Asia as material for scaffolding on high-rise buildings, and has also been used to build other load bearing structure such as bridges."
Jenn at Tiny Choices loves the idea: "They?ve figured out how to build a strong bike frame using bamboo (which can be easily grown, without pesticides, in temperate climates) and are working on creating a localized bike-building cottage industry to roll the project out in a way that can make a real impact. Given that bicycles are still the primary mode of transportation for many millions of people in developing areas the world over, it seems logical to give folks a viable way to build their own bikes from a strong and appropriate material which is lighter on the earth than a steel or carbon fiber frame would be. Also, shipping only components (rather than fully assembled bikes) requires way fewer resources."
While you wait for bamboo bikes to hit your town, you can green your ride now with a large wheel folding bike.