Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Bike to Work
“I am not sure if you will succeed in gathering many people to join that Bike to Work (B2W) community,” this was Angie’s pessimistic comment when seeing the flyer of ‘bike to work’.
I said nothing to hear that. I am more optimistic than she is, I assume.
However, Angie’s comment reminded me of one nineteenth-century American thinker, Henry David Thoreau with his experience living around a pond, all alone, away from ‘civilized society’, that he wrote in his book entitled WALDEN. He did that to criticize American government that he thought damaged the environment by building trans-continental railway during the decade of 1860s. Despite the fact that the railway would help improve the transportation so that it would also result in good business plus profit, smoke coming out of the train would absolutely damage the environment. Thoreau, the true environmentalist, extremely objected the railway building. But what could a Thoreau do to stop it? Even, his good friend as well as teacher, Emerson, only expressed his objection toward the then government’s so-called crazy idea. Emerson did not do any real action to show it.
Bike-to-work idea itself is great and easy to do. This is also obviously more possible to carry out rather than Thoreau’s idea to leave the city he lived to live in a forest, living like a hermit, away from other people, only consuming anything he found in the forest. I believe that it is an absurd thing to do what Thoreau did in this internet era. Do you agree?
So, why is it difficult to attract people’s attention to join B2W community? (This is the result of seeing some people’s reluctant reaction when getting the flyer of B2W during ‘fun bike’ held in Semarang on June 15, 2008) It is essential that we do care for our environment, isn’t it?
I think the answer is on Indonesian people’s way of life. We are ‘popular’ to have high-class lifestyle. Have you ever heard how Indonesian government officials went to a building where they would get debt from some debtor countries? While the officials from the debtor countries came by a simple car, Indonesian officials came by a luxurious car.
Japan that used to colonize Indonesia from 1942-1945 successfully rose from the crumble due to the bomb to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It has become one giant country in Asia. But look at the people’s way of living. Although many of them have private cars, they would prefer to go by public transportation. In Indonesia, people would prefer to show off their ‘property’ by driving cars or riding motorcycles that probably they haven’t fully paid. They would rather expose their prestige. Likewise, other people would prefer to show their respect to people driving cars rather than people riding motorcycles. (Try going to a mall or supermarket close to your dwelling place by bike and see how the parking person will treat you!)
Last Saturday morning on my way to my workplace located 11 kilometers away from my dwelling place, when passing Gombel ‘hill’, suddenly I daydreamed to see other motorists riding bicycles. No vehicles on the road but bicycles and buses (as public transportation). I daydreamed not to breathe polluted air.
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