“Used to be that everyone bicycled to work, even the governor,” said one avid old school biker, Suprapti. Despite her fifty-some years, Suprapti still delivers donuts downtown by bicycle. “Don’t know why people like motorbikes. They are so boring [to ride].”
Suprapti has her delivery system down—a simple bicycle with five square plastic tubs stacked one on top of the other on her bike rack. Chocolate glazed donuts make up the base. Three layers of vanilla and sprinkles donuts above that. A tray of taro muffins tops off the rig. Her set up seems precarious amid the congested traffic that has now taken over Yogyakarta’s streets but she remains undaunted. The hot sun is a bigger issue on her ten kilometer commute from the suburbs downtown now that she has lost her wide, woven bamboo farmer’s hat.
In downtown Yogyakarta, at a busy intersection close to the end of Suprapti’s commute, on the white washed wall is a life-sized stencil of a becak, or Indonesian pedicab. Its driver has on a gas mask that sucks in black clouds of smoke from above his head instead of keeping the smog out.
“Machines, the smoking killers” is the name of this piece explains its creator, a 24 year-old local graphic design student who pens graffiti under the name Anti-Tank.
Part of a growing movement of Indonesians concerned by the pollution and traffic jams frequently experienced in the island nation’s cities, Anti-Tank says he wonders if there is a place for becaks anymore.
“Becaks (and bicycles) are iconic to this city,” Anti-Tank says. “You used to find them from Sumatra to Papua. Today, most people use vehicles though—buses, motorbikes.”
The graffiti artist himself rides a fixed gear bicycle, like many others in the local artist community. Anti-Tank says that they supplanted BMX bikes as