03.01.2016 - Würzburg
What better way to start the Ecovelo-Project than by an article about bicycles? This first text is about my friend, colleague and boss Chaminda who founded the bike messenger enterprise "Radius" with some of his friends in 2012.
How did it come that almost everyone in the western world owns a car? And why are the streets always full of traffic jams, even in a small town like Würzburg where everything is easily accessible by bicycle or foot? These are the questions this first article is dealing with - the questions Chami was asking himself when establishing "Radius".
Chami just loves bicycles. He loves them so much he owns one mountain bike as well as two road bikes. In 2012 he and some of his best friends decided to establish their own bicycle messenger enterprise to attack the dominating position of the car as the favored means of transport for courier services. Now, three years later, "Radius" messengers are carrying flowers, food, medicaments and much more through the streets of Würzburg. Chami has finally transformed his passion into his work.
Growing up in Sri Lanka, just 100km south of Colombo, Chami never would have imagined one day owning three bicycles. Indeed, his father had to save up a very long time for his first own bike. "Back then", Chami remembers "there were more bicycles on Sri Lankas streets than cars. The bike was the common means of transport. Everyone was using it to carry things - even for long distances. The fishermen, the bakers, the farmers, ... Everyone brought their goods to the market. Even I used my bicycle to transport firewood and groceries back to our home." But these days are over now with cars and motorcycles replacing the bike on the island.
With his father seeking political asylum in Germany, Chami and his family moved to Bremen in 1991 when he was 18 years old. After finishing school he started his management studies and got a job offer from a marketing enterprise. Working there he earned some money and even got a company car. But after a short period of experiencing the luxury of life in an industrial country Chaminda soon realized that material wealth can only make him happy to some extent. "So I decided to return to the things that give me joy."
Three and a half years after moving to Würzburg "Radius" was established. For the founders it was important to create a pleasant working atmosphere as well as to be sustainable. The idea is to replace the car as the Nr.1 means of transport. That´s why "Radius" even invested in two electrically driven cargo-carrying bicycles that can transport up to 100kg. "With them we can easily replace a small car!", Chami states.
There is a lot of transport going on within cities. But why is it so normal that cars are carrying all of the cargo while bicycles in Germany are not more than a leisure activity? Is it because of the strong german car lobby? Or because most entrepreneurs find it important for their firms to have company cars as status symbols? Chami and his friends are trying to break these thinking patterns. Along the way they are fighting for a more sustainable urban landscape and more rights for cyclists.
If there services drew your interest you can visit their homepage on http://www.wuerzburger-fahrradkurier.de/
According to statista.com in 2015 there were around 54 million registered motored vehicles in Germany. It is important to notice that this number is increasing year by year which is of course neutralizing the reductions in CO2-emissions achieved by more effective cars: Another statistic shows that German car users produce 90 million tons of CO2-emissions every year and this amount has hardly changed since 2005.
That is one reason why we must alter our way of thinking: Instead of hoping for car manufacturers to reduce emissions we must start using the car less. Cycle to work, use carpooling or get together with some neighbours to share a car. For longer distances take the train instead. Especially with regard to the rise in demand for cars in emerging countries we have to limit our car use quickly.
If more people start using public transport the government has to react by expanding the public transport network. Then again, if more people start riding their bicycles the city will eventually become a much friendlier place for cyclists. We citizens generate the demand that determines the supply (to put it in an economic context).