News and Facts about Cuba

Bicycles and the Future of Cuban Transportation

Bicycles and the Future of Cuban Transportation
September 7, 2014
Jorge Milanes Despaigne

HAVANA TIMES — “I’ve always had a bicycle, but I’m in love with this
particular one because it was tailor-made,” my brother Luis said to me,
polishing the bike he brought from Ecuador.

When he saw I was interested in the subject, he began to tell me about
bicycles, cyclists and the State policy towards these in Quito.

“There are workshops everywhere in Quito where you can get bicycles
built to your specifications. This is one such bike,” he said, pointing
to his “space ship.”

“It’s a shame we Cubans couldn’t continue that project we began during
the Special Period, in the mid-90s!” At the time, people believed that
every Cuban family would have at least one bicycle to mitigate the
collapse of and fuel shortages, among other things.

“Today, transportation continues to be a problem, and saving energy will
always be a concern as well. Perhaps, through the new foreign
and self-employment policies, the bicycle lane infrastructure and
bicycle parts industry can be revitalized. Of course, it would require a
preliminary study.”

“Many students would be able to go to on their bicycles. Others
would be able to ride these to reduce stress, obesity and other
conditions, all the while protecting the environment.”

“Hold on, hold,” I said to him. “That’s all fine and good, but you’re
pedaling too fast. They have to guarantee and security for people
first. You talk this way because you ate well over there.”

He went silent…and went on:

“The government promotes the use of bicycles through the media. They
have a bicycle day every Sunday. They also have bicycles for all tastes
and financial possibilities. They have protected bicycle lanes, like the
ones we had in Cuba, but with surveillance systems,” he concludes, going
back to his polishing. I said to him:

“I haven’t seen bicycles like this one here.”

“No, and you won’t see them in Quito either. This one is ‘Made in Me’,”
he said, trying to make me jealous of his English.

I told him the idea wasn’t bad, but that Cuba lacked a policy that could
adequately study the possibility of securing foreign funding for the
sustainable and safe implementation of something that could become the
country’s future transportation system, as it is in other countries.

“I have this bike, for the time being,” he said to me when I was
finished talking.

“Wanna take it for a ride?” he asked me.

“Of course!” I replied.

Source: Bicycles and the Future of Cuban Transportation – Havana
Times.org – http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106002

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