Friday, December 31, 2010

Bicycle and Sustainable Development Policy of Cuban Government

Cycling is an activity that I recommend to everybody who wants to live in harmony with nature. In my previous post, I said that I ride my mountain bike in the afternoons as my way of maintaining my body in good health condition. The route that I choose is Kampung Ambon, Kwawi, Pasir Putih, Arowi, Bakaro. Actually this route is not suitable for my dirt jump bike - the Polygon Cozmic DX 2.0 whose gears are Shimano Alivio for mountain biking. The street along these places is smooth. After Pasir Putih beach, the number of motorized vehicles is fewer. The road between the Pasir Putih beach and Cape Bakaro is very good for cyclists who want to ride their bicycles, and at the same time enjoy cleaner air produced by trees that grow along the beach and the tropical rainforest of the region. Standing on the Pasir Putih beach, I can see the beautiful blue color of the sea in front of me and also the blue color of the Arfak mountains on the other side of the Dorey bay. Homes to various species of rainforest animals including the paradise birds. When I was still in elementary school, some cruise ships like to visit this small town. The ships brought tourists from Europe and the United States. But I've never seen Oasis of the Seas coming to this bay. It will be nice to see the largest and the most luxurious cruise ship in the world in this Dorey bay.  Oh, I was day dreaming, ha...ha.. ha....
Well, although bicycle is not considered as renewable energy resource, riding it is a way of reducing consumption of fossil fuel and at the same time fighting global warming through the reduction of CO2 gases emission.
Lesson Learned from Cuba
Several years a go I wrote an article about how Cuban government turned to renewable energy and urged people to ride bicycles when their country was suddenly entering economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My article was published by Intisari - a national magazine in Indonesia. Cheap and subsidized fuel imported from Russia could not be enjoyed anymore.
To anticipate the energy crisis, Cuban government imported 1.5 million bicycles and tricycles from China. Domestic production of bicycles was increased to 100,000 units per year. At the same time, solar photovoltaic panels were introduced to provide electricity to homes, schools and health clinics throughout the country. In addition to solar power, Cuba built wind farms and installed hundreds of micro-hydro power and biogas plants that greatly reduced Cuba's dependency on fossil fuel. The policy of the Cuban government to tackle the economic crisis by relying on renewable energy attracted the attention of the UN. In 2001 Cuba received the UN's Global 500 award. Now Cuba is seen as a model for many countries around the world that want to develop their renewable energies. Engineers from Cuba help Bolivia, Honduras, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Venezuela in developing their renewable energy sectors.
Dutch Cycling Culture
Besides learning from Cuba, we - Indonesian people - can look at the Netherlands as a good example for renewable energy application. Dutch people ride bicycles to work. Install photovoltaic panels at the roofs of their homes and build wind farms at sea.  Cycling is not only a hobby but has been part of their lifestyle or culture. Dutch were the ones who introduced cycling to Indonesian people during the colonial period. Therefore, we can learn from them if we are serious in developing our country through sustainable methods.  
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