Indonesia’s 2020 cycling craze explained

Look in any bike shop in Jakarta and you will find that the bikes are out of stock or the shop rep is too busy to answer you, either because they have a lot on their plates answering orders or because they are too busy repairing bikes. If you are wondering why this is so, it is because Indonesians are abandoning the malls and adopting cycling as their new hobby.

In 2020, data compiled by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy indicated that the rate of bicycle use increased by 1,000%, as cited in Star news. Interestingly, not long ago, in early 2019, the Journalists expressed their disappointment at the little attention paid to the cycling community and how Jakarta and its municipalities were not a friendly city for cyclists and pedestrians. PichayadaPromchertchoo of Channel News Asia explicitly expressed concern. However, in 2020 the attention to cycling has taken a 180 degree turn as almost every household in Indonesia now owns a bicycle and is actively using it. More and more people are slowly shifting their hobbies towards cycling, and the root cause could be a bit more abstract.

Cycling has been in Indonesia before it was a country

To understand the craze of cycling 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 the life of his grandparents in the Dutch East Indies and partly praised the Dutch for their ideas. She posited how influential the Dutch were in introducing first world inventions to the East Indies. Ingenious Dutch engineers, as Van der Wal describes them, introduced roads, bridges, railways, and of course bicycles, and later velodromes.

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

One caveat of cycling for Indonesians was that they were limited to wealthy Dutch aristocrats. Bicycles were expensive and prestigious items and it was 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 Fast forward to the 1950s, the Dutch had already withdrawn from Indonesia, but they left their technology behind. Due to the political climate at the time, Sukarno had banned Western products from entering Indonesia, including bicycles made in Europe and the United States. But that in turn left a void, and the market for locally made bicycles was filled by Chinese-Indonesians, as indicated by the ‘Bike for Dad’ website of Chungkalong University, Thailand.

Bicycles began to lose popularity in the 1960s and 70s, with the introduction of motorcycles and automobiles. They began to go out of style and stopped being a convenient means of transportation. What was once an avant-garde invention was no longer in fashion… The problem is that Van der Wal’s grandparents did not realize 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 consumer class by 2020. He was right. Indonesia’s middle class has more money to spend than ever, and this has arguably helped boost at least one industry: bicycles.

Despite no more days without a car At the moment, there are more people riding bikes than ever. The answer to this phenomenon: Coronavirus. With new restrictions on how many people can sit in a car and shopping malls closed, people have started to have new ideas on how to tackle boredom and spend their money. In addition, the roads are also calmer. There is also a consensus that cycling more will keep you in shape, and being fit is a good way to fight the coronavirus, although research shows otherwise. Pollution levels have also fallen to a record 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 these factors combined very well and thus resulted in the new cycling fashion.

Cycling has now seen a rise and is fast becoming Indonesia’s favorite pastime. But the reasons go beyond a simple “hobby” to do when teens 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 in which people 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 the West Coast gangsters of America and the Punk subculture. It symbolizes a form of camaraderie, like any other sports team. It is 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 resurfaced to have its own brand, not necessarily on wealth, but on health, fitness, companionship and solidarity. , which are important values. to Indonesians … The filter known as social media has helped spread these values ​​among 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 they have their own unique bike, they can tell a story about the person himself.

That is why cycling has had a more powerful presence, because we live in times where we support each other rather than being individualistic. Helping each other has mattered much more recently and cycling acts as a channel for expressing these ideas of solidarity. It is also an activity that attracts everyone, something not only for wealthy aristocrats, however, today we take bicycles for granted, but we must remember that bicycles were perceived at one point as the first world technology that was being introduced in the new World. What we think of today as a primitive form of transportation was once considered a marvelous feat of engineering. At this point, it’s unclear whether or not this hype will continue, or whether it will once again be a holdover from history, a mere fad that was “fun at the time” but never taken seriously.

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