'Cycling out of poverty' through a culture of bicycle ownership and use : a case study.
South Africa does not currently have a strong bicycle culture, as most cycling is of a recreational nature. At the same time, inadequate and expensive transport, particularly for many rural individuals and groups, is one of the significant features of poverty in South Africa's rural areas. Many people do not have easy access to vital social and economic activities and opportunities. Because of transport limitations, attempts to promote bicycle transport, by establishing micro bicycle retail outlets in identified rural communities have been in place since the year 2000 in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Cycling is viewed as a relatively cheap and efficient means of transport, which has the potential to reduce the transport burden of groups and individuals designated under the term the 'rural poor'. This study is an exploratory qualitative investigation. Its main aim was to uncover and understand (through observation and interviews), the perceptions of identified rural groups and individuals about the potential of bicycle transport in improving rural travel of up to 20 kilometres. The study sought to identify factors influencing bicycle ownership and use, and whether or not this has become the prerogative of both male and female members of rural communities. The key issues which emerged from the collected data, point to the following: that household economic status; cultural prohibitions; self interests of key stake holders; lack of credit facilities and or subsidies, are the main obstacles for many rural inhabitants with interest in undertaking investment in bicycle transport resources.