Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 06/21/2008 12:21 PM
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono rode a bicycle around the Merdeka Palace and the neighboring National Monument (Monas) on Friday in a bid to draw attention to a healthier lifestyle and less air pollution.
Riding a blue tandem bicycle with First Lady Kristiani Herawati (left), the President arrived at Monas at 7 a.m and awaited the arrival of cyclists from the Bike to Work community.
Yudhoyono was accompanied by several cabinet ministers, including State Minister for Youth and Sports Adhyaksa Dault, State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar, State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman and Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal.
Also joining the presidential entourage were Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, State Secretary Hatta Radjasa and Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi.
After hundreds of cyclists had arrived at Monas, Yudhoyono led them back to the State Palace for an informal gathering, where food carts and a buffet had been set up.
"I invite everyone to try riding a bicycle to work. We can benefit much from this activity, apart from keeping healthy and having fun," Yudhoyono told the cyclists.
"We can save more fuel, especially now, what with skyrocketing fuel prices. And we can also preserve the environment by reducing pollution."
Toto Sugito, head of the Bike to Work community, presented Yudhoyono with a picture of a gas station in which the petrol pumps had been replaced by water dispensers.
He expressed his appreciation of the President's support for the group's cause and called on the government to seriously consider building bicycle lanes.