KLM gives used bikes a second life in Ecuador and Kenya

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

A sympathetic and clever way for airlines to give back to society is to use their ‘corporate infrastructure’ to assist social initiatives. For example, back in 2012 Spanish flag carrier Iberia, national pizza chain Telepizza and open innovation network Ideas4All organized the ‘Books for Colombia’ campaign which saw Telepizza asking its customers to donate unused books to the pizza delivery person after they have ordered a home delivery. Iberia then flew all collected books to Colombia for free where they were distributed to local schools.

A similar concept has also been carried out by KLM over the past few years.

‘White bikes’
Located near the center of the Netherlands, De Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the nation’s most visited national parks. It’s 5,500 hectares (55 km2) are home to the renowded Kröller-Müller museum, a wide variety of plants and animals – and about 1,800 white bicycles. These bicycles were introduced to the park in 1974 to provide free – and environmentally responsible – transportation in and around the park.

Each year, De Hoge Veluwe retires and replaces about a fifth of its bike fleet and wants to ensure that their retired and refurbished bikes are given a meaningful second life. The bicycles are therefore not discarded but are given a new purpose. First they get fixed up at nearby De Hoenderloo Groep, a training and residential ceter for disadvantaged youth. Then hundreds of the bikes get a free transport – courtesy of KLM – to a destination where they can be put to good use.

Ecuador, Kenya
Earlier this year, the most recent shipment of refurbished bikes – 242 in total – were flown to the Ecuador by KLM. The white bikes are intended to be used by locals and visitors in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and to raise awareness of the local environment.

KLM and De Hoge Veluwe have been joining forces since 2008. As partner of KLM’s AirCares programma which has also received free bikes is Cycling out of Poverty which supports small businesses, health workers and schools in Africa with bicycles. The program resulted in nearly 500 bikes being flown to Kenya.

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