Documentary to Feature Pedals for Progress

We’re excited to announce that Pedals for Progress will be highlighted in a feature-length documentary film directed by Greg Sucharew. The Bicycle City follows the lives of several Nicaraguan families who have received P4P bikes to tell the story of a city that is working to raise itself up from the poverty of its stagnant colonial past and the scarring of a ruinous civil war. In doing so, the film also describes the relationship between P4P and EcoBici, our longstanding partner in Rivas.

This is particularly meaningful to us because we’ve been reflecting lately on the 20 years P4P has been in operation. We’ve had a lot of successes, and failures, along the way as we’ve attempted to make this thing work. Rivas has been one of our greatest successes. In 1991, while Dave Schweidenback, P4P’s founder and current President, was figuring out how to get bikes from here to there in a sustainable way, it was Wilfredo Santana from EcoBici who came up with the revolving fund idea. EcoBici was the recipient of our first full container of bikes, and since then has accounted for 14% of all the bikes we’ve shipped. Although still poor by American standards, incomes in Rivas have risen across the board and the quality of life has improved dramatically.

It’s a success because by concentrating a growing number of bikes in this one city and providing a constant supply of parts over two decades P4P has been able to make a substantial impact there. We helped create a bicycle society, with a relatively sophisticated bicycle infrastructure. In 1991 the city boasted one bike shop, housed in a shed at a neighborhood baseball diamond; today there are over forty privately owned bike repair shops and EcoBici has a demand of over 2,200 bikes per year.

This is why we’re so excited about Greg’s documentary. Rivas is the success story, and we’re ecstatic that he’s chosen to share it with the world. The Bicycle City is still in its post-production phase, and he tells us there is a lot of editing and other work yet to be done, but Greg has given us this trailer so we could get a glimpse of it. We really like it and thought we would share it with you as well. Enjoy!

You may also remember the fantastic short film we commissioned from Greg, Cycle Recycle: Economic Development in Sierra Leone (if not, view it here!), that followed a container of bicycles as they were collected, loaded, shipped, and distributed in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Cycle Recycle was selected to be screened at New York’s 2009 Bicycle Film Festival and again at the 2010 Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago.

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