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Bangladesh: Bangla Pedal Power

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Bangla Pedal Power | Bangladesh | Asia

[Visited: April 2010]

From the very day I arrived in Bangladesh, I was amazed by the incredible amount of cargo transported around by the indefatigable Bangla bikers. Of course, there are the rickshaw wallahs, but the real pedal champions of the country are the human engines of much of the goods transportation throughout the country. Huge stacks of bags with potatoes, mountains of baskets, watermelons, fridges, cupboards, cows, yes, indeed: bicycles: virtually anything is transported on bikes and powered by tenacious humans.

Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Enormous loads on bikes does not seem to deter the bikers

It is true: sometimes the pace of these cargo bikes is slow, and not superior to walking speed. And yes, carts are also used for transportation of goods. I saw men pushing their overloaded bikes, effectively turning them into carts, albeit without the need to carry - only to push. But still, the sheer power with which the Bangla bikers pedal through the traffic that can be a freakish madhouse, and the skill with which they steer their heavy bikes through that chaos, is amazing even to the experienced cyclist. It made me wonder if, among the many thousands of bikers with their well-trained bodies, there could not be one future cycling champion?

Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Strong Bangla biker pedaling his bike with baskets and friend forward

Their faces often very concentrated, their eyes looking for the best way forward, sweat dripping over their backs, while their legs are doing the truly hard work, the Bangla bikers managed to gain a lot of respect in me during my stay in this country. Just remembering how just having one person on the back of your bike can already make biking more difficult, it was baffling to see how those slim but sturdy Bengali cyclists were able to keep a heavy bike with enormous bags of potatoes - and one of his friends on top of those bags! - in motion and steer it in the right direction. Truly awesome!

Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Advertisement for language school on a bike in Dhaka
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Man struggling to get his very heavy bike forward
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Man adding more weight to a heavily loaded bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Heavily loaded bike pushed to its destination
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Balancing bananas on his bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Cupboards on the back of a bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Old Bangladeshi with his loaded bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Bamboo transported by bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Taking a fridge for a ride
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Basket with chicken on the back of a bike
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): How many baskets can you transport using your bike?
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Mobile drink shop powered by a bicycle
Picture of Bangla Pedal Power (Bangladesh): Cargo bicycles used for transportation of coconuts

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