Indonesia Cycling Madness 2020 Explained

Look around any bike shop in Jakarta and you’ll find that the bikes are out of stock or the shop representative is too busy to reply to you, either because they have a lot on their plates answering orders or because they’re too busy repairing bikes. If you’re wondering why that is, it’s because Indonesians are ditching the malls and taking up cycling as their new hobby.

In 2020, data collected by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy indicated that the rate of bicycle use increased by 1000%, as quoted in Star news. Oddly enough, not long ago, in early 2019, journalists expressed disappointment at how little attention was paid to the cycling community and how Jakarta and its municipalities were not a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. Pichayada Promchertchoo of Channel News Asia explicitly expressed his concern in this regard. However, in 2020 the focus on cycling has taken a 180-degree turn, as almost every household in Indonesia now owns a bike and actively uses it. More and more people are slowly turning their hobbies towards cycling, and the root cause might be a bit more abstract.

Cycling has been in Indonesia before it was a country

To understand the cycling craze in Indonesia, it is important to briefly understand the history of cycling in Indonesia and the role it played before independence.

In Tetske T. Van der Wal’s novel, “I thought you should know” he documented his grandparents’ lives in the Dutch East Indies and partly praised the Dutch for their insights. She posited how influential the Dutch were in introducing first world inventions to the East Indies. Clever Dutch engineers, as Van der Wal describes it, introduced roads, bridges, railways, and of course bicycles, and later velodromes.

The bicycle was first used in Indonesia by the Indian Army, but it was quickly used for other activities as a means of getting from point A to point B. However, there was a catch.

One caveat about cycling for Indonesians was that they were limited to wealthy Dutch aristocrats. Bicycles were expensive and prestigious items and were a symbol of wealth and power that could only be enjoyed by a small minority of rulers. Fast forward to the 1950s, the Dutch had already withdrawn from Indonesia, but they left behind their technology. Due to the political climate at the time, Sukarno had banned Western products from entering Indonesia, including European and American-made bicycles. But that, in turn, left a void, and the market for locally made bikes filled with Chinese-Indonesians, as the ‘Bike for Dad’ website from Chungkalong University, Thailand, claims.

Bicycles began to lose popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, with the introduction of motorcycles and automobiles. They began to go out of style and were no longer a convenient mode of transportation. What was once a state-of-the-art invention was no longer so. in fashion. The problem is that Van der Wal’s grandparents didn’t realize just how big the cycling craze would be 80 years later.

In Syaiful Afif’s research article “The Rise of the Middle Class in Indonesia: Opportunity and Challenge”, he predicted in 1998 that there would be 85 million people in the consuming class by 2020. He was right. Indonesia’s middle class has more money to spend than ever before, and this has arguably helped boost at least one industry: bicycles.

despite no more days without a car At the moment, more people are riding bicycles than ever before. The answer to this phenomenon: the coronavirus. With new restrictions on how many people can sit in a car and shopping malls closed, people have started coming up with new ideas about how to tackle boredom and spend their money. In addition, the roads are also quieter. There’s also a consensus that cycling more will keep you fit, and staying fit is a good way to fight the coronavirus, though research shows otherwise. Pollution levels have also been reduced to an all-time low, according to IQAir data. Recent data showed that Jakarta’s air had an Air Quality Index (AQI) of just 74 on average (July 2020). All of these factors combined very well and thus resulted in the new craze for bicycling.

Cycling has now seen a surge and is fast becoming Indonesia’s favorite past time. But the reasons go beyond a simple “hobby” to do when teenagers are bored or when office workers are idle at home.

What is different from then and now? Cycling has changed to become a form of identity: it is a way for people to feel part of a community and have a sense of belonging. The uniforms that some groups wear when riding are comparable to Harley Davidson groups, or even more extreme groups such as American West Coast mobsters and the punk subculture. It symbolizes a form of camaraderie, like any other sports team. It’s an unwritten agreement to travel together and be friends.

Just as cycling was associated with status, wealth and power during the Dutch colonial period, it has re-emerged to have its own brand, not necessarily about wealth, but about health, fitness, camaraderie and solidarity. , which are important values. to the Indonesians. The filter known as social media has helped spread these values ‚Äč‚Äčamong young Indonesians, which in turn spread to other groups and this is where we are today, and just like everyone has a different Harley, everyone has their own unique bike, that can tell a story about the person himself.

That’s why cycling has had a more powerful presence, because we live in a time when we lean on each other to support each other instead of being individualists. Helping each other has mattered a lot more recently and cycling acts as a channel to express these ideas of solidarity. It’s also an activity that appeals to everyone, something that isn’t just for wealthy aristocrats; However, nowadays we take bicycles for granted, but we must remember that bicycles were perceived at one point as first world technology that was being introduced to the new world. What we now consider a primitive form of transportation was once considered a marvelous feat of engineering. At this time, it is unclear whether or not this hype will continue, or if it will once again be a remnant of history, a mere fad that was “fun at the time” but never taken seriously.

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