Monday, February 11, 2008

Critical Mass, Yogyakarta






Did you know that Indonesia is the third largest producer of CO2 in the environment? You wouldn't be surprised if you set out on one of Java's many busy streets, full of big monster trucks spurting black clouds of exhaust in your face, seas of motorbikes and continuous problems with overpopulation. Environmental issues here are far behind, and most people don't have the same options that more developed countries have to improve their standards of living. Did I mention burning trash? Trash is another big problem in Indonesia- and the problem is that there's nowhere to put it! People throw their trash in the rivers, in the forests, anywhere they can, simply because they have nowhere to put it and not enough education to think twice about the effects of their actions. Many people, coincidentally, end up burning their trash, plastic and all. This, obviously, is also very bad for the environment.


A couple of weeks ago, here in Yogyakarta, we had a critical mass bike ride through the city. A group of almost 200 people, we rode our bikes through busy streets, stopping traffic and aweing people with our colorful costumes and decorated bikes. The message we had was: Think of the environment! Try riding your bicycle for a change! If more people in Indonesia rode their bicycles, not only would the streets be much more peaceful, but the amount of harmful pollution would also reduce. Riding a bicycle as opposed to riding a motorbike or exhaust-filled bus is healthy not only for the environment, but also for the rider! It feels good to be healthy! In Yogyakarta there is a new excitement in the young generation to ride bicycles, and it's becoming a trend. This is good. Young artists are designing their own styles of bikes- from extra-tall bikes to low-riders to bikes with extra large handles or added wheels. Our recent critical mass was inspiring- the variety of riders young and old who joined encouraged both participants and onlookers alike that the possibility of change in environment, for the better, is still possible. Ayo, naik sepeda!!!!! (Come on, let's ride bicycles!)

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