Friday, January 28, 2011

Is the Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship safe for the marine environment?

The Oasis of the Seas and many other cruise ships have often been accused by environmentalists of polluting the ocean. It is understandable that the sea and the beautiful coral reef is a fragile marine environment. Organic and inorganic wastes can cause harmful impact to fish and animals that live in the coral reef areas.
Passengers traveling on Oasis of the Seas and other cruise ships should be well informed that they must not throw plastic wastes into the sea. Naval architects who designed ships know that they need to add sewage water processing plant inside the shipboard systems so that the sewage water can easily be decomposed by tiny marine animals that do the job.
As a matter of fact, cruise industries and other merchant ship operators are not the only ones that should be accused of polluting the environment. Most of the plastic wastes that are now drifting on the open seas come from coastal cities and towns in all continents of the earth. To stop marine pollution is to teach city and town dwellers to stop throwing their garbage to the sea.

Everyday millions of tons of domestic and industrial wastes are flowing to the sea from coastal cities around the globe. If these wastes can be recycled into other useful products then the marine environment especially the coral reefs will be in better condition.
Naval architects, marine engineers and operators of cruise ships have done their best to preserve the coral reef and marine environment. We earn money from exploiting the sea, so we know we must not destroy it.
It is also the responsibility of authorities of coastal cities and towns to stop wastes from flowing into the sea. They have to build recycling plants to process the wastes so that the burden which tiny marine animals have to do to neutralize the pollutants will be lighter.  by Charles Roring

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mountain bike for girl

I rode a mountain bike this afternoon. It's a Celine 3.0 manufactured by Polygon cycle - a bike manufacturer in Indonesia. The bicycle is made for girls or ladies actually. It has 27 speed quite fast for cycling on a flat road along the Brawijaya street to Abassi beach the usual route that I go through every afternoon. While riding this human powered vehicle, I could feel that the bicycle was very easy to be controlled. It's frame was made of light metal Alx 6061. I didn't see any differences between riding a male and female bikes. Perhaps, the bike maker wants to attract female riders by releasing Celine 3.0 coated with red color. I really enjoyed riding this mountain bike very much.
Compared to my Dirt jump mountain bike Cozmic DX 2, also made by Polygon cycle, this Celine 3.0 has much better cycling performance both for flat road and steep slope. I think it is because of its 27 speed gears. My dirt jump Cozmic DX 2 has only got 18 speed (two for the front gears and 8 for rear gears. Because my bike has been specifically designed for dir jump, its performance will be better in unfavorable terrain such as unpaved route in the mountains.
I hardly ever see girls cycling in the streets every time I ride my bicycle. Fortunately, I saw one this afternoon. She was riding a mid-size BMX bicycle holding a baby in her hands. She was only playing around her house.
Beauty and the Bike
Last week I read a book entitled: Beauty and the Bike. It was written by Beatrix Wupperman and Richard Grassick. The book is about the author's (Beatrix Wupperman) cycling stories from childhood to the adult period. On page 4 she told the readers how she got her first bike at the age of 5. Actually she inherited it from her mother. The bike was very big for her. At the age of 9 she finally got her own bicycle which she used to go to school. She was now at secondary school. It was in 1960s and people saw cars as the future means of transport. Motorways and trunk roads were being built throughout Europe. She witnessed how public transportation systems for trams and local rails; and lanes for bicycles were replaced by wider roads for cars. In 1980s she studied and then worked in a university in Berlin. She complained that there were only few cycling paths. In her book, she said that British girls stop cycling when they become teenagers. She wrote Beauty and the Bike as an inquiry into why British teenage girls stop cycling. Later it became a project to attract girls to cycling again. I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in developing or promoting cycling culture in his or her town/ city. There are a lot of obstacles and challenges that she and her friends face when promoting cycling culture to British girls.
The phenomenon of girls giving up cycling does not only occur in the UK. It is a world wide phenomenon which needs to be tackled by every concerned citizen who sees walking and cycling has to be placed at the top hierarchy of transport mode instead of cars and other motorized vehicles. We still have a long way to go to realize this dream. But the dream of streets and roads fully filled with cyclists again is not her own dream. It's my dream too and perhaps yours. Together with all the cycling lovers around the globe, we can press our governments to change their policies to be more pro-cycling friendly so that our cities will have cleaner air, more quiet. And because our money will not be "burnt for imported fossil fuel", our economy will be better.
Also read: Mountain Bike For Ladies

Are bicycles children toys?

Every time I ride my bicycle around the town of Manokwari, I can see that most of the cyclists or bikers are elementary school children and teenagers. I seldom see adults riding their bicycles. We all know that riding bicycle is good for our health but we don't do it regularly or we never do it. The pro-car or pro motorized vehicles policy from the government is the main causal factor which makes cycling not a popular lifestyle in this country anymore. In one week, I could only see one or two adults riding their bikes. Because cycling around the town center is not favorable due to the traffic condition, I prefer to paddle my bike to Pasir Putih beach area. Cycling was introduced in Manokwari town and the whole West Papua region by the Dutch. This environmentally friendly lifestyle has been replaced by the use of motorized vehicles particularly motorcycles and cars in the last 40 years of the city's development. Yet, I still see a small number of people who ride bicycles in this town.
Back to the discussion of the above question whether bicycles are toys for children and teenagers? I see that most of us who live in Indonesia do not realize how important bicycles are for our health, environment and economy. We all are used to living in a country whose fuel is subsidized (even now!). When Indonesia entered its worst economic crisis in 1998, the subsidy was gradually reduced. People began to protest the government for this unpopular policy. We did not realize that the price of fuel oil is expensive in the international market. We did not invest enough money in renewable energy either. We have enjoyed cheap fuel for years and reluctant to teach our children how to ride their bicycles to school. The government also did not give enough pro-cycling policy in its national development strategy. Now most children in Indonesia do not go to school buy riding bicycles. They depend on ojek (motorcycle taxi), bus, or their parents to pick them up from schools. Only in rural areas children walk to school. When children in Indonesian cities go to school by ojek, children in the Netherlands and Denmark ride bicycles.
People in Indonesia might think that riding bicycles is only a kind of training before somebody rides a motorcycle. They think that bicycles are slow, and only old fashioned means of transport. Because there is no serious pro-cycling policy from the government, the promotion of cycling as a lifestyle or culture in Indonesia had not been aggressive enough until after the fuel crisis some two or three years ago when university students began demanding the democratically president of Indonesia to step down.
In the efforts of living an efficient life, maintaining good health, and fighting global warming, some people in Jakarta begin to revive the cycling lifestyle again. Bike to work community was established and now has branches in several cities and towns in Indonesia. In Manokwari city alone, as the newly established capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia, some people began to ride their bicycles to work. But this spirit is not fully supported by the government especially the department for transport and town planning agency through the creation of facilities and lanes that support bike to work campaign. As a result I can see that cycling or mountain biking in Manokwari is still considered as sport only.
To change people's paradigm of bicycles as children toys, a lot of efforts have to be done. Some of them are through the writing of articles both on the internet and on printed media about the importance of riding bicycles as ways to save money, maintain good health and preserve the environment. National TV stations haven't created special programs for promoting cycling culture.  There are a lot of benefits that we can get from cycling. Bicycle manufacturers in Indonesia have to respond to this new movement by producing bikes that are suitable for working class society. The prices of bicycles have to be reduced to levels where they are more affordable to the whole population of this country.
In the eco-tourism sector, I personally am planning to provide cycling tour in Manokwari as a strategy to raise awareness among the local people that cycling is a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. I also have planned to establish a special web-portal for promoting cycling in two languages, i.e. Indonesian and English. The content will consist of stories from cyclist in the streets, study or discourse materials about cycling, bicycle reviews, technical or manual articles and other contents that are related to cycling, sustainable development and environment. I am sure that this human powered vehicle will one day be seen as an important means of transport in Indonesia again, someday in the future. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Dirt jump mountain bike
Mountain biking in the Table Mountain

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Promote Bike to Work Culture in Indonesia

Two days ago I wrote an article entitled: How to promote cycling culture in your town to create awareness among town dwellers to see cycling as an alternative means of short distance transportation.The percentage of people cycling to work in Indonesia especially in big cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan still is still very small. Yet the number of people who ride bicycles to work is growing steadily following the rise in fuel price several year ago as a result of the central government's reduction on fuel subsidy. In Facebook and blogs, bike to work communities have been formed to attract more people ride bicycles.

In order for this campaign to be effectively materialized, the Indonesian government especially the Department for Transport must allocate significant amount of budget for the construction of cycling park and lanes. The urban planning authorities and consultants must include bicycle lanes in the grand design of city streets and roads.
In addition to pro-cycling policy from the government, and bike to work awareness from the cycling clubs, employers should also be included in the campaign. Some incentives from the companies where the cyclists work should be given to encourage other employees to choose bicycles as their means of transport for instance by giving special bonus for them where they can use the money to buy bicycle parts from specialized bicycle stores. We can learn from the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark whose bike to work programs have been very successful. If bike to work program is seriously promoted and implemented, the problem of traffic congestion can easily be eliminated from Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan.
I should point out here that cycling was a culture in Indonesia before the introduction of mass produced motorcycles and cars. The Dutch were the ones who introduced cycling in this country during the colonial period. So, it is not impossible to revive this culture again. I strongly believe that we can see more bicycles on the streets of towns and cities in Indonesia again. When more people ride their bicycles to work, the atmosphere of our towns and cities will be cleaner again.
In European countries, bike to work has long been seen as the most popular solution to reduce traffic congestion. According to, on its 30 Nov 2010 news, the Netherlands goverment, provincial and local councils would allocate 80 million Euros this year to extend the cycle tracks in Amsterdam, Haarlem The Hague and around Utrecht to another 15 km long.
Central and local governments in Indonesia have to be brave in allocating more money from their annual budgets for implementing pro-cycling policies.   by Charles Roring
Also read:

Benefits of riding bicycles
Riding bicycle is good for our health and environment

Mountain Biking to Cape Bakaro in Manokwari City

Last week I rode my mountain bike to Cape Bakaro of Manokwari city. It was in the afternoon of 4.30 p.m. that I and my friend Peddy Tanguni were cycling. He is a computer teacher at a high vocational school in this city. The beautiful white sandy beach with blue sea water of the Dorey bay was on our side. The road from Kampung Ambon to Pasir Putih beach was not quite, in fact, it was quite busy with beach goers who drove their cars and motorcycles. Sometimes I had to ride my bike along the edge of the road to make way for the cars to pass by us because from the opposite direction there were also vehicles moving back to the city.
The weather was still bright when I and Peddy arrived at the fish calling station near the Bakaro village. city dwellers like to come here to watch a man calling sea fish to the shore using his whistle and termites (as the food to attract the fish). At that time we did not ask the fish caller to do his usual performance. We only sat on the bench facing the raging sea of the tip of Cape Bakaro. Actually it should be a perfect spot for surfers but with all of big rocks scattered around the shallow waters area, surfing will be a dangerous thing to do here.
Peddy brought a can of soft-drink which he bought from a kiosk. It was a can of Sprite. He bought one for me too. Taking a rest and drinking the softdrink, we sat on the bench enjoying the breeze from the tropical sea of New Guinea island (also called West Papua). I and Peddy were talking about the price of a good mountain bike made of carbon fiber shown at Polygon cycle website - an Indonesian bike manufacturer.
Peddy's mountain bike was made by United - also an Indonesian bike manufacturer. Its front and rear gears were Shimano tourney. My bike was a Dirt Jump mountain bike with gears supplied by Shimano Alivio. Its seems that most of the gears for mountain bikes in Indonesia were supplied by Shimano - a Japanese company that specializes its business in producing bicycle parts and sport fishing gears.
Around 30 minutes later, we returned to our bicycle and began riding back to Manokwari city again. I asked him to ride his bicycle a head of me because I did not wear my glasses.
When we were approaching Pasir Putih beach I saw a young Papuan boy who was riding his BMX. I used to have one like what he had when I was in junior high school. I asked him to stop to strike up a conversation with him. I asked him if he was interested in joining a race and how much his bicycle was when he bought the bicycle. Unfortunately, he could not answer my question because it was not his bike. He borrowed it from his friend. I was sad to hear from him that the price of a new bicycle was too expensive for him (around 1.6 to 2.5 million rupiahs for a low quality ones with no gears). It's my main concern when trying to promote cycling among teenagers and young adults in Manokwari city. I hope that one day, a large bike shop will be opened in this city to sell bicycles in more affordable prices. When the price of bicycle in Manokwari is still expensive, it will be very difficult for us to promote cycling culture in West Papua). by Charles Roring