If you’ve visited any developing country in the past 30 years, you’ve undoubtedly been stunned by the amount of pollution coming from motorbike engines, trucks, cars, buses, tuk-tuks or rickshaws all mingling together. You’re stuck there in the middle, face covered, and not because of a virus, but actually maybe worse, the long slow death from exhaust fumes that smother the air, and it’s 95 degrees.
Not good by any estimation for the people and animals that are forced to live in it. We already know it’s a problem.
Countries such as Japan have always taken the greener approach with their avid bicycle usage, not only in cities such as Tokyo but in all the villages and prefectures throughout the country. Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland are hip to the bicycle, and of course Holland tops the list with a large amount in Amsterdam alone.
In 2016, arriving with that eco-friendly bicycle mentality (and her bicycle), 24-year-old Dutch traveler, Cantal Bakker came to Marrakech, Morocco for her own tour of the North African city.
Enamored with the city itself, yet amazed by the youth unemployment and encroaching pollution, Bakker had an excellent idea, and knew that she could do something to help.
Leaving the Netherlands to start a new life in Morocco, Bakker started importing second hand bicycles from Holland, to start a business in Marrakech, and Pikala Bikes was born.
It proved to be a perfect solution for the youth in the city, even those with no education, who could now learn to be bicycle mechanics, tour guides for the tourism sector, or bike delivery drivers. Last year Pikala bikes also provided 270 rural students with bikes to help them get to school. I love this innovation and the freedom it gives to the kids.
The children are now learning a more eco-friendly, non-air polluting, better, healthier, greener way to travel, and it’s had a tremendous impact on those involved. Already Bakker has helped hundreds of Moroccan youths by teaching them road safety, empowered hundreds of girls by teaching them how to ride a bike, and provided support for them in the form of work creation.
Now supported by the Tui Care Foundation, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and DHL among others, they’re venturing into other cities starting with Agadir, Rabat and Casablanca. And who doesn’t want to go on a bicycle tour of old Casablanca?!
The Pikala Bikes team will take you to places you’d never find alone. Guided by young students from the Atlas Mountains, you’ll visit off-the-tourist-track places from the medinas to the oasis to the desert. You’ll stop at small welcoming cafes for traditional mint tea; gunpowder green tea, a handful of fresh mint leaves pushed into the glass, crushed with sugar, and topped with hot water, and Moroccan pastries made from sesame, honey, walnuts, almonds, orange zest or dates. And with all that biking, you’ll work off the pastries in no time!
Pikala bikes will also deliver bikes, (or food!) to your hotel anywhere in Marrakech.
So, when you’re next in Marrakech, do the right thing and take a bicycle tour. You will not be disappointed!
And for those who can’t make it… press play here. Video by Black Forest Collective/bfs.film