By Bernadine Rodrigo
“Spinner” is a brand which has not only kept commuters in Sri Lanka healthy through the authentic local dishes served at their café, but has also provided people with exercise through their dealing in the selling of bicycles. It has always been Spinner’s goal to get Sri Lanka to travel on wheels…of course, powered by their legs. During this time, when everybody is staying at home and industries around the world are collapsing, Spinner too was not spared.
However, they did not simply give up and go home, but instead thought of new ways to push their cause of eco-friendly mobilisation. As Yasas Hewage, one of the owners of Spinners, stated that just like a God-given, they were introduced to a very new kind of bicycle which might actually be very appealing to people. One thing which can be tedious when it comes to taking care of a bicycle is that its tyres can get easily punctured which is very difficult to fix again, especially since winkles are not nearly as common as they used to be.
What is so special about Spinner’s new bike is that it is a special hybrid which cannot be punctured. Although this may sound very simple, it is a magnificent technological invention. What else is that while even bicycles can be very expensive in the terribly inflated and competitive markets in Sri Lanka, this bike only costs Rs. 15,900, which Hewage is happy to announce. He believes it is very unfair that bicycles can sometimes cost hundreds of thousands and disappointedly declared that it shouldn’t be that difficult to see an iron bike for about Rs. 10,000 here.
Hewage believes that now is the best time than ever to push forward the idea of using bikes in Sri Lanka. He said people have finally come to the understanding that the environment is something which we must protect and have finally understood the value of money and how we should not be spending it unnecessarily. Hence, Spinner has taken this time to spread the value of using bikes around the country.
They have already begun their operations towards this cause. They have opened up a facility where bicycles can be repaired, which according to Hewage is very important because so many of us have bicycles at home that just lay there rusting because of some minor damage that can easily be fixed. Spinner also provides the option of picking up and dropping off bikes from people’s homes.
For the same reason of bikes being left rusting in houses, Spinner has also begun an initiative where bikes can be sold to them and then anyone willing can purchase it from them. “Children grow up so fast, you buy them a bicycle and the two years later they’ve grown up,” says Hewage, “so then you can just come and sell it to us without leaving it to rust.”
While they have been conducting these services slowly during the past week and have also held auctions to sell some of their special “patch-less” bikes, they also have greater plans to make the use of bikes more common in Sri Lanka after this phase of social distancing and self-isolation is over. However, the values learned during this time are going to be pivotal in order to enable this.
One fact which Hewage puts forward is that people have now realised that staying too close to strangers the way Lankans are forced to on public transport, for instance, may actually have severe medical consequences. Hence, a significant reason to use bikes and keep away from anyone – or just about anything as public property can also be home to a great amount of germs – carrying any illness. As if the benefit of exercise is not enough for a health benefit, bikes have the advantage of actually preventing illness.
People are worried about working up too much of a sweat during mornings, as Sri Lanka is a hot and humid country and going into work sweating does sound unpleasant. However, we are all to remember that once again, it is not as though public transport cannot have the same effect. Speaking further, Hewage reminds us that many in Sri Lanka’s workforce do not necessarily work in air-conditioned rooms. The thing with bikes is that it is actually much more hygienic and it gives you great exercise. However, Spinner is working on ways that can diminish this problem such as finding methods in which people can freshen up fast after arriving at work.
Another issue with this which people have usually put forward is that bicycles can sometimes be unsafe. However, Hewage would like to point out that this fact is not quite true and it would only be so if bikes were ridden irresponsibly.
Along with encouraging people to use bikes for their daily commute, Hewage and Spinner would also like to encourage people to use bikes for the courier service. He said that there is a global framework for this option and while it is very possible in Sri Lanka, it can also be a much faster option as opposed to cabs and motorbikes, especially during traffic hours. He said that Spinner will also begin their own delivery service which they will completely employ for their bike repairs and can also be used by anyone else who needs a sustainable delivery method.
However, he wants to emphasise that they don’t have to go through them but it would be wonderful if they would at least consider doing something such as that on their own. As they are currently engaged in conducting their services through the use of cabs, Hewage has realised that this is an extremely and unnecessarily expensive method of transport and that bikes would serve our pockets much more instead. Nevertheless, he also said that this can only be done within a small cycle-able parameter, reminding us that even the slightest bit of help to the planet by reduction of any amount of carbon emission is effective help.
“We have to create some change; we cannot simply watch our world being destroyed,” he concluded.