Virtual cycle into a brighter future ‘Reinventing the Wheel’ project shown at PE indaba, writes Guy Rogers
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.
HOW IT COULD BE: Biblioteca Alexandria deputy director Mohamed Mehaina presented the Reinventing the Wheel virtual cycling experience