Members of cycling team cycled toward Amarak Farm. Photo: Banung Ou

A morning Ride: Physically Active and Intellectually Fulfilling

The Ride4RenewableEnergy event was born out of a team discussion within Oxfam’s Mekong Water Governance Program while we discussed the activities around the Cambodia Clean Energy Week 2021. Oxfam has been joining hand with the Energy Lab Cambodia for the last few years organizing this event where the policies and practices around promoting greater move toward renewable energy forms the core agenda every year. This year, Cambodia Clean Energy Week theme, “Build Forward Better: Our Best Choice for a Stronger Economy” which happened between 21-28 October 2021. Oxfam and WWF co-convened the sessions: “Alternative Energy and Mekong Future;” The other two events convened by Oxfam were session on “Call for Innovative Project and Panel Feedback” and Ride4RenewableEnergy event.

The Ride4RenewableEnergy centered around promoting individual contributing to change in behaviour by opting for biking as the mode for commuting; The total 20 registered Riders departed from three different places with approximated distance of 10-20Km to AmarakFarm in Koh Krabey in Khan Chbar Ampov; The three departure points were: Oxfam in Cambodia office; Caltex Bokor Petrol Station; Chip Mong Land St 271. Once assembled and refreshment were served; the discussion and reflection started to heat along with the heat generated from the ray of sunlight of a fine Sunday on 24th October. Such a fine Sunday will be very enabling for power generated from solar panel on any farm set up to draw energy through solar-farm system.

However, our bikers’ reflection started with the people’s motivation to ride bike. For a few, it was their strong personal interest to bike as a physical exercise and to contribute to environment; for others, it was the alternative physical exercise in time of COVID-19; other friend’s bike for the first time by joining this Ride4RenewableEnergy; we also heard from biker who spent time making sure he has enough equipment to protect himself when deciding to register to join. Whatever the motivations were, they are making their personal contribution toward greener environment through this activity. In respond to the question posted, what are the challenges Bikers face in current context in Phnom Penh, a few notable point includes: 1) feeling unsafe and expose to greater risk of accidence on the road when biking along with other vehicles as there is not bicycle lane; for some bikers who are most susceptible to heat strokes, the most favorable times to bike is limited (early morning ride and/or late afternoon ride) and they also expose too poor road condition in some section of the city; dusk and heat could reach the unbearable level.

"I always talk about Green Friday instead of Black Friday. The Green Friday refers to the freedom and joy of using green transportation. Bicycling is one of the most eco-friendly examples of green transportation. It uses your body power instead of other fuel sources while it keeps you fit, gives you fun, and saves your money. At least, once per week, say on Friday, you cycle to work you are already making a big change in sustainable renewable energy in your country,”said Eng Muyngim who submitted her photos and view on how to she contributes to Renewable Energy efforts.

For me, the most interesting part of the reflection and sharing of the team was when individual biker started to share their personal reflections of why they do a few things consciously or unconsciously. Shop with eco-friendlybags to reduce the consumption of plastic bags as much as possible; using bottle water or Tumblr for drink to reduce the consumption of plastic bottle as plastic takes a great cost of harmful impact to the environment; turn off light at your home when you leave that room/bathroom/kitchen; use the home appliance such as Led light bulb which consume less electricity; waste management and composing. A team member who is an Agriculture Expert shared the simple step where household waste management and compose making could be generated for home garden or flowerpots that is home-grown.

A few observations from the discussion among bikers most notable includes:

  • Simple step individual takes make the positive step to change. This step sets good example for the younger generation to adopt good habit that care for the environment and the earth.
  • The conscious action could start unconsciously; there is no order of how positive action could start.
  • There is a greater need for Cambodia to work toward creating more enabling environment both in policies and practices to promote greater uptake of sustainable renewable energy option at household, enterprise or mixed energy sources in the national grid.
  • Collaboration between civil society organization, private sector actors, government and individual/Community all contribute to bringing about positive change for faster #JustEnergyTransition in Cambodia.
  • Alternative energy options that are renewable, and sustainable and less harmful options often requires greater capital investment, enabling policy environment and support; and promoting the inclusive approach to governance.

“It has been exciting and educational event. The cycling was fun, indeed. What’s more, I have got to learn more from the discussion we had on energy and options as shared by people from different working experiences. I also met my former colleagues and made new friends,” said Lykhun, a staff member of Ministry of Economics and Finance.

The reflection and sharing session among bikers enable for a simple and friendly avenue for exchange of knowledge, information and learning. The discussion ended with the positive vibe of encouragement: continue to embrace the environmentally friendly options that individual can make at personal level; reduce the consumption of plastic and promote better waste management at household level; and that individual positive step contribute to better cambodia today and tomorrow. A Sunday morning has been rich and fulfilling both with the physical exercise generated from biking, the mentally satisfied that individual action contribute in a small way to the environment and an intellectually learning and sharing of good practices.

“Riding a bicycle is not just good for our physical health but also our society’s health by deducting pollution and saving energy. The event inspired me to make more contributions to save our environment, starting from individual contribution such as reducing the use of plastic, electricity, air consideration, gasoline, and being conscious about the restaurant/places that promote the ecosystem etc. It might be small but if each individual in our society is committed to be part of it, it will make a big difference,” said Kunthea Chan, JASS-SEA Co-director.

Group discussion and sharing among cyclists about good practices that contribute to energy saving and environmental sustainability.

All photos by Banung Ou