This past Friday I got the chance to attend the Mobility 21 Transportation Summit as a part of the transportation engineering class I’m taking this semester. Mobility 21 is a group that brings together everyone working on transportation in Southern California to talk about and plan the future of transportation in this region. Although I admit I wasn’t looking forward to the summit all that much, by the end of the day I was really impressed with some of the speakers I had seen.

My favorite presentation was during the lunch session when the two founders of a company called Zambikes showed a video and spoke. Their story is pretty neat – when they were in college they took a trip to Zambia over the summer to help out at orphanages. While they were there they met a guy who had finally purchased his first bicycle after saving up for years – and they were shocked at what poor condition the bike was in. They knew that bikes were a huge benefit to business because they allowed people to carry more goods from the rural areas to the city, but they couldn’t understand why the people there were still using bicycles that we haven’t used in the US since the 1930s. A few years later they started Zambikes, which is a for profit company that manufactures and sells quality bicycles in Zambia.

photo credit: Zambikes|Africa

After the lunch session ended, I had the chance to talk with one of the founders about how they got started, as well as my personal aspirations to work in the developing world. He was a really nice guy and gave me his contact information, encouraging me to email him so that he could put me in touch with some people that he knows.

Overall, it was a really good experience and I’m glad that our professor required us to go. We’re definitely at a huge advantage going to school in LA where conferences like Mobility 21 are so easily accessible. Since this one was at the Disneyland Hotel, we also got free tickets to the parks after the summit ended – now that’s a win win!