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Myself, Stan Engelbrecht, and a good friend and fellow bicycle enthusiast, Nic Grobler recently started a project investigating South African bicycle culture, and the lack of cyclist commuters out there on our roads. We are currently raising funds to turn this project into a self-published full-color hard-cover photographic book ( similar to a previous book I've done, African Salad - www.dayonepublications.com ). We are shooting the entire project from our own bicycles while traveling around the country - we are meeting everyday South Africans out there while they use their bicycles.


How we are doing this...


Given the nature of the project we will be launching pledging in sections. Our ultimate goal is to raise $35,000 in total for the complete production of the book, but we've broken the process up into three phases. During our first phase we've raised over $15,000 for traveling, shooting, writing and preparing all the collected content for the next phase - design and layout, and all pre-printing preparations - for which we’ve raised a further $9,000. For the third and final phase we will be raising an additional $12,500 for the actual printing and binding of 3000 copies of the book.


Please visit our Kickstarter ( www.kickstarter.com ) social-network pledge-for-reward fundraising page ( www.bicycleportraits.co.za/kickstarter ).


For our project we are looking at who rides bicycles, why they ride them, and if they love using bicycles as a primary method of transport. This site will be constantly updated as the project develops. The project can also be followed via constant updates on Twitter or our Facebook page.


Why we are doing this...


As you'll see we are not photographing people who ride purely for exercise or recreation, but instead we are focussing on those who use bicycles as an integral tool in their day-to-day existence. We've noticed that in South Africa, especially in the major centers, very few people use bicycles as mode of transport. This is very strange since we have no proper public transport infrastructure, and that which does exist is expensive and unsafe.

Given all the benefits of cycling - independence, health, fitness, cost-effectiveness, environmentally friendly - we would love to encourage the use of bicycles in South Africa amongst all social classes. We've noticed that as our major centers develop there still seems to be a trend to make cities more friendly for cars, not people. While this might be happening in many places around the world the effect on individuals seems to be very dramatic in a country like South Africa, where there is a growing divide between those who can afford motorized transport and those who struggle to. Owning a bicycle in this social climate can be very empowering, if the correct infrastructure exists.


As you might know, South Africa is a world within one country, home to various cultures, with a tragic history of segregation and racism. Through this project we hope to give people a glimpse into each other lives through a well known object of movement, practicality and joy - the bicycle. Looking at individuals through their, sometimes unconscious, involvement in bicycle culture, we will inadvertently touch on many charged issues like the implementation of public space, lack of infrastructure development and also social problems like class division and unequal wealth distribution, but also perhaps bring those unfamiliar to each other together in their love for a simple thing...


Our long term goal...


Through publishing this book, we want to be able to assist the underprivileged cycling community through our project - be it teaching bicycle maintenance skills, providing necessities like helmets, tires, tubes, locks… It would be great to create a support structure for the people who appear in the book - this could be a trust funded by a percentage from sales of the cover price, or a charity set up in the name of the people who appear in the book etc. Ultimately we want to promote cycling as a means of independent transport to empower the underprivileged, and in fact, to encourage everyone capable to ride a bike as an alternative to driving a car, or even using public transport. We hope that this will lead to the kind of infrastructure development that is designed with all people in mind, not just cars.


Thank you very much for taking the time to read about Bicycle Portraits.