Vir­tual cy­cle into a brighter fu­ture ‘Rein­vent­ing the Wheel’ project shown at PE ind­aba, writes Guy Rogers

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

CI­TI­ZENS of traf­fic-be­sieged Alexan­dria in Egypt will soon be able to get a vir­tual glimpse of a health­ier, cheaper and more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly life­style.

The “Rein­vent­ing the Wheel” vir­tual cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ence lab­o­ra­tory was pre­sented at the Seedbeds of Trans­for­ma­tion Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal (SDG) ind­aba in Port El­iz­ab­deth yes­ter­day.

Project leader Mo­hamed Me­haina, deputy di­rec­tor at Bi­b­lioteca Alexan­d­rina, the old­est li­brary in the world, said the aim was to en­cour­age a new up­take of this tra­di­tional mode of mo­bil­ity in Alexan­dria, and if it worked there to pro­mote it across Egypt and Africa.

He said some groups of Alexan­drian cy­clists did meet for week­end mass rides – but dur­ing the week, with the cars back on the city’s fear­some multi-lane ar­te­ri­als, was an­other mat­ter.

A struc­tural and mind­set change was there­fore nec­es­sar y.

The im­mer­sive in­stal­la­tion was sim­ple but the de­sign rev­o­lu­tion­ary, he said.

“It will com­prise a fixed bi­cy­cle, a com­puter and 3D gog­gles for par­tic­i­pants to wear. As they ride they will see and feel how it is to ride along a cy­cle track next to one of our main roads, along­side the traf­fic but safe from it.”

Cy­cle tracks will be a to­tally new ini­tia­tive for Egypt and none have yet been con­struct- ed but one mem­ber of the project team is a mem­ber of the Alexan­drian gov­ern­ment and the hope is that he will spear­head im­ple­men­ta­tion if the project goes well.

The Rein­vent­ing the Wheel SDG Lab would be in­stalled at the Bi­b­liotecha, but would also be mo­bile, so ideal to move to the city squares for en­gage­ment by the sum­mer crowds, Me­haina said.

The Alexan­drian project is one of 13 new SDG labs which were pre­sented yes­ter­day at the Board­walk con­fer­ence.

The labs are be­ing funded by the in­ter­na­tional sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion Fu­ture Earth which also hosted the con­fer­ence.

One of the other labs, based in Kenya, fo­cuses on co­ral reefs and ma­rine pol­lu­tion.

Project leader Dr David Obura said even if sig­na­to­ries to the 2015 Paris Agree­ment could be held to their com­mit­ments and global warm­ing was capped at 2° above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, the co­ral reefs of the world would likely be lost.

Even al­low­ing for the pos­si­ble mi­gra­tion south­ward of trop­i­cal corals, raised sea tem­per­a­tures would bleach and kill ex­ist­ing for­ma­tions and also put con­sid­er­able pres­sure on cold-wa­ter corals like those in Al­goa Bay, he said.

To mit­i­gate this sce­nario, Obura’s team and their part­ners are con­duct­ing a global search for the most re­silient ex­am­ples of sur­viv­ing reefs as a first step to­wards re­lo­cat­ing and re­seed­ing co­ral.

“Mean­while ci­ti­zens can pres­sure for pol­icy that coun­ters cli­mate change and sup­ports sus­tain­abil­ity, that says no to burn­ing coal and yes to re­new­ables, and which fac­tors en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sets into our ac­count­ing sys­tems. If we do that we will man­age waste, fish­eries and de­vel­op­ment bet­ter.”

An­other lab, fo­cused on “cit­i­zen science”, is geared around strength­en­ing re­search and com­mu­ni­ties.

The project, be­ing driven by a team of re­searchers at Rhodes and the Uni­ver­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg, is aimed at en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to con­trib­ute to stud­ies and then us­ing the find­ings to im­prove their lives.

PHO­TOGRAPHS: MARK WEST

HOW IT COULD BE: Bi­b­lioteca Alexan­dria deputy di­rec­tor Mo­hamed Me­haina pre­sented the Rein­vent­ing the Wheel vir­tual cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ence

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