Bicycle Portraits

This isn’t entirely concerned with architecture but it is beautiful both in concept and execution, I’ve had it in a tab for a couple days just to look  again and I’m at least a week overdue with a post … so I’m sharing it.

The following are just a few of the hundreds of portraits taken by bicycle enthusiasts Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler who spent two years traveling South Africa by bike and capturing the images and stories of fellow bicycle users along the way.  They are about to publish a book (below are a few sample images) but have already created a stunning website with more videos and an array of arresting photographs of South Africans and their bikes.

from their website:

“As you’ll see we haven’t been photographing people who ride purely for exercise or recreation, but instead we’ve focussed 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, 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 wish 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 have inadvertently touched 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 still we hope perhaps to bring those unfamiliar to each other together in their love for a simple thing…”

2 responses to “Bicycle Portraits

  1. The bicycle is an elegant machine, not very old at all in its present incarnation, and very inexpensive for what it does. I’m particularly fascinated by its use as a cargo vehicle, the purpose for which some people think that they need a car.

    The authors are absolutely correct that it’s a matter of the correct infrastructure. Bicycle-friendly and safe roads are another piece of the puzzle of social equality. My own version of Utopia features bicycles and other human-powered transport…

  2. I think the bike is one of the best things humans have ever invented. thanks for sharing this site.

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