An article on the BBC news website drew me to look at St. Helena, a tiny Island in the South Atlantic which they refer to as "the world's remotest island." Just 4255 (or 7637 depending on whether you believe wikipedia or the BBC) people live on the island.
In many ways, life on the island sounds idyllic. On other ways it does not. I can see why people leave, but also see why others might want to take their place.
So, why is this on a cycling blog ? Well, there's a video on the BBC site which includes interviews with school children. The boy on the video at 1:28 talks about the some of the issues that people face on the island. He says "...people getting 4000 - 5000 pounds per year as their salary, and that's to pay for food which is 2-3 times the price of the UK, to run a car with petrol one and a half times the price..."
Hang on, I thought. A car surely isn't actually a necessity. It's really a tiny place. In fact, St. Helena has a total area only 50% greater than that of the city of Assen where we live. It's perfectly possible to live here without a car, so surely that's also true of St. Helena. Because the island is just 16 x 8 km in size, the maximum distance anyone can possibly travel to get to anywhere else on the island is shorter than the distance that some school children from villages around here ride daily to get to school.
St. Helena's climate would appear to be very agreeable too. It apparently doesn't drop below about 15 C (59 F) in the winter, so no cycling on ice as we have to do here.
However, the BBC also refer to the island as "where Ford Escorts go to die." Could it really be true that a place so small is so infested with car culture that no-one considers that there is a different way of getting about ?
I took a look around the web to see if I can find any evidence that anyone rides a bike there. Surely a bicycle would also be a practical way of getting around this place. However, neither the government website nor tourism website actually refer to bicycles at all. In fact, I didn't manage to find a single reference to anyone riding a bike on this island, ever. Very strange indeed. I do hope I'm wrong about this - contributions from those who regularly cycle around the island would be very interesting to hear about.
If nothing else, perhaps cycling could be something else to offer on the tourism site. It does sound like a fascinating place to visit.
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