350.org has begun to collect stories from organizers and members around the world, to share with and inspire countless others. If you have a story you’d like to share with the 350.org team, and possibly the world, please do so here! The following article is written by Emily Dowding-Smith, who lives in Lund, Sweden. 


In Lund, Sweden, there are bike lanes a plenty, awash with students and Swedes who bounce along the medieval cobbled streets and don’t think twice about how easy it is to get around. That’s because decades ago, the city started planning a design that removed cars and much traffic from the central city, and instead promoted buses and bike lanes. 

For Moving Planet last September, we launched an event called Bike Life Cycle, which was super fun. We had novel bikes to ride, tours of the city, deck-out-your-bike paint stalls, and a bike obstacle course. It was super fun, but it all seemed slightly pointless here in Sweden’s most climate savvy city. In the lead up to the event, I decided that it wasn’t enough to do a one-time community day. For our dedication to matter, we had to do something longer lasting, with a bigger impact. 

With a city full of bicyclists who don’t think twice about how easy it is to get around, there’s a surprising dark side, an underworld in Lund. In strategic spots around the city there are scores of abandoned bikes, discarded and left to rust in the streets, or at the bottom of a stream. 

With a passion for bikes, an irritation at litter, and an education in life-cycle thinking for products, we decided to support Bicycling Empowering Network, who work in and around Cape Town, South Africa. For 10 years, Andrew Wheeldon and the team at BEN bikes have been taking donations of used and second hand bikes from abroad, and using these bikes to fuel a growing network of bike shops around the area. They train mechanics who can then fix the donated bikes and sell them on locally, extending the life cycle of the bicycle and providing sustainable transport to the community. 

In Lund, nearly 6 months after Moving Planet Lund, we are now the group Livscykel: Bikes for life- with the life cycle of the bicycle at its heart, as well as the strength of community- both here in Lund, and in Cape town. We work with youth her in Lund, both high school and university students. We’ve come together to make knowledge sharing and an educational experience a part of taking action. Sharing knowledge and insights with youth about positive change for the climate and our future generations is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. 

We decided early on that we can’t jeopardize the good work that is already established here in Lund to recycle bikes. So our goal is to enhance on that. Our starting point is to get people here to ride bikes if they don’t already, and fix them locally if they’re able. If we have bikes that we’ve fixed up, and our community doesn’t need, then we ship them to people who really want them- keeping an eye on the ways to reduce the emissions required to ship a container of bikes from Scandinavia to South Africa. 


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