Humanizing Cyclists

With increasing problems of transportation in major urban centers, bicycles have become an alternative for many. Either a conscious choice of sustainable transportation or the “only” alternative of transportation for many, its importance has been outshined by other means. In several cities, for example, common are the accidents involving drivers and cyclists, usually resulting in fatalities of the later.

Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler, during a 2-year journey around South Africa, found a possible solution to this problem: humanizing the stories of cyclists and changing the population’s consciousness through the documentation of cyclists’ diverse realities. In 2010, they started the project “Bicycle Portraits,” a photographic book about contemporary South Africa bicycle commuter culture. When they started the project, they wanted to find out who rides bicycles, why they ride bicycles, if and why they love their bicycles, and of course why so few South Africans choose bicycles as a transport option. But Bicycle Portraits has turned into a portrait of a nation through the bicycles that they own and ride every day – revealing all manner of social, class, historical and cultural nuances never imagined.

A great idea that can be recycled in some many different places, and adapted to local realities.