Due to a long standing US embargo, Cuba has been unable to import an assortment of products since the 60s. The result is that a culture of DIY repairs has emerged, so that many items which would have ended up in a land fill years ago here in the states are still in use. The most famous example would be the legendary classic cars and trucks which populate the city streets, but another less widely known is the vast cycling network.
In this short film, Diego Vivanco interviews cyclists in Cuba to learn more about how they keep their bikes running.
Read what the film maker has to say about the project after the break:
Cuba underwent a bicycle revolution in the 1990s during its five year ‘Special Period’. Oil was scarce as a result of tough economic constraints, and throughout those years of austerity, bicycles where introduced as an alternative mode of transport. Thousands of Cubans used bicycles on a regular basis, as pedalling became the norm on the island.
Years later, the transportation crisis subsided and motorised vehicles returned, and the country’s bicycle culture took a hit. Now, new bikes are difficult to come by and parts are not readily available, yet many Cubans still use bicycles daily and, despite the limited resources, a handful of mechanics provide a service to those who rely on their bikes in their everyday lives.
Plenty of cyclists roam the streets of Havana and the rest of Cuba. Ángel, a typical bike riding Habanero, provides a brief insight into Cuban bicycle culture and the importance of bike mechanics in the capital as we come across both riders and repairmen.