Remember when you were given your first bike? How all of a sudden you figured out how to pedal fast enough so the two wheels stayed upright and you could make it to the end of your street without a grazed knee or a bashed elbow? It’s an important part of childhood for people on Income Levels 3 and 4. It’s about fun and freedom, an opportunity to play with friends and family.
For people with a low income, though, a bike can be much more. It can mean that fetching water takes 20 minutes instead of an hour, or that a member of the family can travel to a better paying job that can help drag the rest of the family out of extreme poverty.
On Dollar Street, you can see the similarities and differences in people’s bikes across countries and continents according to their income.
Income Level 1
For the poorest billion people in the world, owning a bike is often just a dream. People normally have to walk barefoot. If they do own a bike, they are typically old or broken, as these images from Dollar Street show.
Income Level 2
Now they are earning more than $2 a day, many families on Level 2 are able to save money to buy a bike, which is used for everything: fetching water, transporting food, getting to and from work and helping a sick relative to the clinic. On no other income level are bikes as life changing as they are on this level. Around 3 billion people live on Level 2. Compare the difference in the bikes below to those on Level 1.
Income Level 3
The dream of owning a bike was fulfilled on Income Level 2. On Income Level 3, people no longer have to be passed by faster vehicles. Now earning more than $8 a day, they can afford a motorbike or moped. They are used both for transport and for fun. On this income level, motorbikes are the most common form of transportation, except for buses and trains. People living on Income Level 3 do still have bikes, of course. They are often newer and nicer than those on Level 2, as you can see below.
Income Level 4
For the world’s richest billion people, most bikes are usually used for fun or sports. Families might own one bike per family member, in different colors, styles and brands. They are an option for transportation, but not the only one available. As the pictures below show, more money means nicer bikes.