Turkmenistan president decrees month of cycling +video

“Security Of Traffic Movement On The Road And The Well-Being Of Our Life" initiative kicks off

by John Stevenson   August 7, 2013  

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (CC licensed United Nations:Flickr

When it comes to getting a nation on their bikes it helps if you’re a totalitarian ruler backed up by all the apparatus of a one party state and the support of 97 per cent of the electorate at the last election. That should ensure that the central Asian nation of Turkmenistan gets behind its president’s recent call for the country to get on its collective bike.

Turkmenistan's President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has decreed that September will be cycling. In the early hours of August 3, President Berdymukhammedov marked the initiative with a dawn ride on what appears to be a Cannondale mountain bike complete with, appropriately for the dictator of a former Soviet republic, a Lefty fork.

Accompanied by dozens of government officials, his ride was covered on state TV and kicked off a campaign called “Security Of Traffic Movement On The Road And The Well-Being Of Our Life.” (According to Radio Free Europe, it sounds better in the original Turkmen.)

 

Berdymukhammedov has apparently decreed that “cycling should be part of the regular activity of people. Sport schools in the capital and provinces should prepare a road map for improving cycling activities.”

For a month from September 1, the people of Turkmenistan will be expected to ride bikes en masse, and in the meantime people should practice as much as possible. Berdymukhammedov’s initiative details a plan to increase the participants of all citizens in sports, and especially cycling.

And it sounds like Turkmen citizens won’t have a great deal of choice. Under the rule of Berdymukhammedov, a former dentist (so you can bet he's got the best bike) who was the nation’s health minister before becoming deputy prime minister in 2001, Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, according to human rights groups. (Although to be fair not as repressive as his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who amongst other things renamed the days of the week and the months of the year after himself and his mother).

One slight fly in the presidential ointment is that there is some doubt about the actual level of bike ownership in Turkmenistan according to Radio Free Europe most of those seen riding bikes in the video clip were given them beforehand.

Still, we bet Boris Johnson wishes he had that sort of power.

6 user comments

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Well nothing embodies the freedom of cycling like being forced to do it.

posted by Jakal79 [50 posts]
7th August 2013 - 19:09

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start registering your bikes right now!

no doubt there will be a compulsory death penalty for every Turkmen driver who inconveniences a cyclist or anyone who ridicules the president by doing a wheelie on his Cannondale with his hair dyed green.

My house will be on the market later today, I'm off to Turkmenistan.

posted by Metjas [268 posts]
7th August 2013 - 19:53

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Lol! It's so funny that people are suffering!

posted by thelimopit [118 posts]
7th August 2013 - 19:55

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Perhaps this is where Pat should go to live out his retirement.

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [137 posts]
7th August 2013 - 21:17

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Seems he had a bike change before the end of the ride

SteveW

posted by Steve Worland [95 posts]
8th August 2013 - 8:50

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I've been there and it's every bit as nuts as it looks.

posted by markyboy007 [20 posts]
9th August 2013 - 12:45

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