BIKES & KITES: HOW BALINESE STAY HAPPY AND HEALTHY IN PANDEMIC

Various places around the world began to loosen the lockdown, but the COVID-19 pandemic still a threat. In this difficult time, where public transport is not yet fully restored, bicycles become a new alternative and environmentally friendly transportation and convenient transportation in the midst of the plague. We could see here, in Bali, every morning, or in the afternoon before dinner time, lots of people are pedaling their bikes along the road, together with their friends, or family.

Media has a big contribution to this ‘fever’. Cycling activities was actually started already in the big cities abroad, like Paris, Barcelona, New York, and even our neighbor, Manila. It is said that there has been a surge in bicycle sales since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. How did it start?

During lockdown, residents of large cities around the world are realize that they enjoy the clear blue sky, pollution-free air and starts hearing birds chirping when urban noise decreases. The pollution level in Barcelona is decreased around 62 percent, for example. This phenomenon was also happened in other major European cities such as Milan, London, and Paris. European member states at the United Nations recently created a task force to investigate this question and discuss ways to make post-outbreak mobility more environmentally sound, healthy and sustainable.

As many countries in Europe and various other parts of the world begin to revoke lockdown in pandemic-related regions, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) sees opportunities and obligations for the transportation sector to restart conductively to a more efficient and greener system.

The use of public transportation has decreased significantly as more and more people choose to walk or ride bicycles to avoid crowded mass transportation and follow the health authorities’ advice to keep their distance. Responding to this trend, European governments in Berlin, Milan, Paris, Geneva, Brussels and London have become major cities that have decided to invest in flexible bicycle lanes and launch permanent “corona cycleway” infrastructure or pop-ups in the middle a wave of investment that includes free bicycle repair and even cycling lessons.

The World Economic Forum noted, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged his people to switch to a culture of cycling when they began to return to work and carry out public activities gradually. The poll revealed 57 percent of the British people planned to reduce the use of public transportation for fear of contracting the COVID-19 pandemic. When a number of studies emerged linking air pollution to higher corona mortality, many authorities seized the opportunity to change civilian lives healthier.

France is reported to have allocated € 20 million or US $ 21.7 million as an incentive that encourages its people to become more aggressive in cycling. French Ecological Transitional Minister Élisabeth Borne said that she wanted to see “a step forward in the culture of cycling” in her country. The incentive package makes all citizens eligible for free bicycle repairs up to € 50 in designated workshops as well as free training and more temporary bicycle parking places.

The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend biking and walking as an ideal way to meet physical exercise requirements during locking in a pandemic-related area. Some cities with a strong cycling culture such as Amsterdam have tried to accommodate increased physical activity that obeys the rules of maintaining distance.

Therefore, this activity is still continuing and growing, like a mushroom in a rainy season. Apart from bikes, there is also popular activity in Bali during this pandemic time, one of which is playing kites. Kites in Bali is very unique which has many kinds of forms and sizes. There are ones who resembles a big bird, snakes, dragon, butterfly, and even a human. For decades, playing kites has been favourite games for not only children in Bali, but also adults. Proven by the existence of Bali Kite Festival by Pelangi (Persatuan Pelayang Indonesia, or The Association of Indonesia Kite Players) has been routinely held over the years. June and July is actually the perfect time, but since the pandemic is still going on, the cancellation is inevitable.

Because of this a Balinese kite’s fan, Made Suprapta Meranggi or familiarly called Dek Soto, initiated a virtual kite competition to accommodate kite fans in Bali. The effort was carried out in collaboration with institutions and various private parties, one of which is providing support for the implementation of the virtual kite competition which will be held July 12 in the Sanur area, Denpasar.

The virtual kite contest was participated by as many as 350 kites that came from Bali, North Sulawesi and also Lombok. The upcoming virtual kite competition is actually the second session after it was first held at the end of June. Because it was considered a success, the competition is held again as a new form of promotion to awaken the world confidence for Bali in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which up until now has not subsided.

Specifically, the competition now has a theme; “Owls vs Butterflies” and what to be judged is the concept of making kites, in terms of colour alloys, how to raise/pull the kites in the air. Assessment will be done virtually using Zoom application, so the participants don’t need to go far to the “live centre” zone.

Participants in the Bali region will also enliven this competition with the accompanying cadence of baleganjur or Balinese Gamelan. It is also emphasized that participants of virtual kite are required to use middle-traditional clothing as a way of demonstrating traditional culture in Bali. Related to the number of kite nylon-thread that caused some accidents and victims, it is stated that leaving the kites through the night is forbidden. It is also done in order to monitor the strength of the kite thread properly.

Meanwhile, Vice Governor of Bali, Cok Ace hopes that this activity could increase the creativity of young people. He explained, in accordance with the plan of a new normal order, it would begin by continuing the implementation of health protocols on the 9th of July. Whereas the efforts to restore the tourism began with domestic tourists on 30 July and 11 September for international tourists. While we are all hoping that the plan will run smoothly, why don’t we enjoy the blue sky filled with beautiful kites now?

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