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Green activist cycling across North America using solar-powered bike

Environmentalist David Ligouy is cycling across the continent on a solar-powered bike to raise money for communities in Mexico so they can acquire 8,000 electrical bike conversion kits.
Ligouy, David cycling
Environmentalist David Ligouy makes a pitstop in Moose Jaw in early September during his cross-country journey. Photo courtesy Boh's Cycle

Environmentalist David Ligouy is cycling across the continent on a solar-powered bike to raise money for communities in Mexico so they can acquire 8,000 electrical bike conversion kits.

Ligouy — from France and a peace movement activist — has been touring the world on his solar-powered bicycle since 2018 and has travelled more than 40,000 kilometres to fight climate change. He has a vision of creating a fossil fuel-free future featuring efficient green transportation methods. 

His campaign slogan is “Don’t Bank on the Bomb — Bank on the Climate.” 

Ligouy, 52, originally campaigned years ago to abolish nuclear weapons. After the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for encouraging 65 countries — but not Canada — to sign a treaty eliminating such weapons, the environmentalist turned to fight climate change.

He began travelling by solar-powered bike four years ago and has so far visited 27 countries. Some challenges he has faced include avoiding revolutions in South America and staying warm during a Ukrainian winter.

Ligouy has been cycling east after starting this journey at the Peace Arch in Vancouver earlier in the year. He spent a few days in Moose Jaw in early September before pedalling onto Manitoba. 

“It (the trip) is doing very well. People are being very nice to me. The scenery was beautiful. I had hot weather and I didn’t have too much rain,” Ligouy said by phone during a stop near Brandon, Man. “That really helped me because less rain (means) more sun (for the solar bike).”

His goal is to reach Montreal by early November so he can prepare for the United Nations’ Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in December. 
Once spring arrives, Ligouy will head south on the U.S. East Coast before pedalling into Mexico. 

Mexico country is special to him, he explained, because he wrote his master’s thesis there 30 years ago and developed long-lasting friendships. He eventually graduated with a master’s degree in green energies for developing countries.

Those friends later contacted him and asked for help with their e-bike project. They were concerned about air, water and soil pollution in their communities and wanted to reduce those problems while also addressing poverty.

Ligouy created a GoFundMe page intending to raise US$25,000 to purchase open-source electrical bike kits. This would allow people to convert regular bicycles into electrical ones. 

The Mexicans will also learn to create solar-charging stations during this project. Those who can’t create stations will learn to install a solar panel on either a trailer or their bikes.  

So far, the campaign has raised $700. Ligouy can start purchasing e-bike conversion kits once the fundraiser acquires $1,200.

“So, it’s going to help a lot to reduce greenhouse gas from transportation (which is the biggest problem),” Ligouy said. “And the second biggest problem is electricity production — it’s got to be clean. … We are running out of time for climate change … .”

The bike Ligouy is using is designed for people with disabilities. It uses one 400-watt solar panel that allows him to ride 200 kilometres per day or about 10 hours at 30 kilometres per hour. If it’s cloudy, the battery allows him to ride for two days before requiring a recharge. 

Riding has been easy for Ligouy because the weather has been favourable for most of his trip. With a laugh, he added that the bike is quite comfortable since it doesn’t have the usual seat problems that regular bicycles have.

Ligouy added that he hopes the Montreal conference produces a strong agreement among countries to better address climate change and biodiversity loss.