Ecovolis: Exemplary Results from Bicycle Recycling

Ecovolis is a bike-sharing system based in Albania’s capital, Tirana. Initiated over two years ago, this program has revolutionized the city’s transportation and circulation scheme. There was a very real necessity to create a solution to the congestion and pollution in the car-filled streets of Tirana, and it is largely due to the donations of bicycles and the great work done by Ecovolis’s strongest partner, Pedals for Progress, that made the program take hold.

Since the first communication with P4P and its president, David Schweidenback, 1,465 bicycles have landed in Albania and they are all currently circulating in its streets. For a country of 3 million people, this is a great first step. Consider the fact that, after a fifty-year communist regime that forbade the personal use of automobiles, the last 20 years saw a surge in ownership of cars. The unfortunate result of this new age of consumption was that Albania became one of the most polluted countries in Europe.

As part of PASS (Programii Alternativave Sociale Stimuluese, Social Stimulating Alternative Programme), which promotes and support environmentally friendly actions, Ecovolis immediately embraced the idea of using recycled bicycles for Tirana’s bike-sharing system rather than purchasing new and potentially costly or unreliable alternatives. This system was presented to its citizens with a strong ecologic and recycling message: “Put used bicycles into good use.” People needed to be conscious of the need to reduce the pollution created by the multitude of cars that circulated in the city streets. P4P was the model we followed.

A great part of the bicycles were transformed and painted in order to become identical and be part of the bike-sharing system. However, hundreds of them were also donated to children’s organizations such as Terre des Hommes or orphanages. American efforts and involvement have created smiles on many Albanian children’s faces. Being so grateful to David and P4P, Ecovolis made a point to notify the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, who couldn’t but feel proud of the generosity and eco-friendly behavior of the people they represent here in Albania.

All in all, the shipments of those bicycles now seen in the streets of Tirana and Durrës and the sewing machines now used by associations of women in need offer a strong and concrete message to the Albanian people: Recycling and cooperating for good causes are what bring about solutions and unite people of distant nations.

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