In Indonesia, riding a bike is not a common thing. Because we do not have bike lanes, it is a little hard and dangerous to ride a bike on the big road.
Honestly, there isn’t any necessary rules or laws about riding a bike on the big road either. As long as we are careful and know how to ride, we are good to go. Yet, most Indonesians choose to drive a car or ride a motorbike because it is more convenient and comfortable. As a result, the pollution is quite high and the traffic is unbearable in the big cities.
“People tell me, ‘You cannot live in California without having a car.’ I do not think it is true. I haven’t owned a car since I moved here and I am still alive”
In the capital Jakarta there is an event called Car Free Day, which takes place every Sunday in a certain area from 6-11 a.m. People ride bikes, skateboards or just walk around on the big road just to enjoy the day without any traffic.
Personally, I love riding a bike. However, when I was back in Indonesia, I only rode a bike in the neighborhood or at the park because I felt insecure about peddling onto the big road. Also my brother lost his bike a couple of times on trips to the stores. So if we need to go somewhere, either we drive a car or take a taxi. Riding a bike to work or school was never really an option for me.
When I came to the U.S, some friends suggested I ride a bike to campus. It sounded convenient, however my old insecurity from back home discouraged me. I’d rather take an Uber, public transportation or walk back home than ride a bike. I saw my roommate and friends riding a bike to campus and I still did not want to do it.
Then, the free-bike sharing became a popular thing at SDSU. Every time I walked through campus, I saw people riding these bikes.
I am a curious person, so I started doing research about this “dockless” bike, and I realized that this was a great idea! There are so many advantages. I do not have to worry about losing my bike, I can help to reduce carbon emissions and I can just park it anywhere and lock it. And on campus, I know that there is a bike lane everywhere, so I don’t need to be scared.
Soon, I started riding this bike from my house to campus, which is only 15 minutes away. I felt good but I ran out of breath. I realized that I have not been working out in a long time. It made me realize how unhealthy I am. At that moment, I committed myself to ride a bike more often to help the environment and myself.
This small thing has made me realize how spoiled I am with the comfortable and convenient transportation around me. People tell me, “ You cannot live in California without having a car.” I do not think it is true. I haven’t owned a car since I moved here and I am still alive. In my opinion, that phrase has been convincing people to think they need the most comfortable and easy thing.
It’s good to have a car, but it’s awesome to care more about our environment. We don’t have to make an extreme change right away. Start something small by riding a bike to go to the store instead of driving a car.
When I go back to Indonesia for the summer, I want to do a small thing for my environment and myself. I want to start riding a bike again — at least when I go to a store nearby my house or to my friend’s house.
Monica Kading is a comparative international studies junior. She is an international student from Indonesia.