[sustran] Round-the-World peaceride

International Bicycle Fund ibike at ibike.org
Thu Aug 20 08:21:17 JST 1998

The Great Millenium Peaceride is now circling the globe
promoting sustainable transport and peace.  They may be
coming your way.  If you are in a position to, please feel
free to participate and/or support them:

Great Millennium Peaceride

Contact: Sigitas Kucas , sigitas at gmpr.lt

SEATTLE -- Bicycle riders from many nations assembled
Thursday, 6 August, at Westlake Park in Seattle to begin a
17-month, 20,000-mile journey for peace. The colorful
kickoff ceremony was assisted by the International Bicycle
Fund (www.ibike.org).

The challenging four-continent Great Millennium Peaceride
(www.peaceride.org ) is endorsed by UNESCO (United Nations
Educational, Social and Cultural Organization) and by
numerous national governments. It is intended to call
attention to the hope of ordinary people, all over the
globe, for an end to political conflict and a true
commitment to world peace in the new millennium.

A Lithuanian physicist, Sigitas Kucas [Si-GEE-tas KOO-chas],
47, is the trip leader.  Also part of the Lithuanian team
are Goda Ciplyte, 31, a young woman who works as an English
translator in the Lithuanian Prime Minister’s office;
Edvardas Zizys, 62, an economics professor; and Gediminas
Vasiliauskas, 35, a history student. Among the many
countries represented on the ride will be Russia, Poland,
Germany, Turkey, Ghana, Senegal, Croatia, Japan, and Mexico.

Kucas said: “In every city that we visit, from Seattle to
Buenos Aires and from Amsterdam to Shanghai, we plan to hold
a ceremony to spread our message.

“We want to draw attention to the growing threat to all of
us due to wars and environmental pollution.  We want to
foster common human values – and, of course, we plan to
promote the bicycle as the most healthy and environmentally
friendly means of transport.”

Backers of the Great Millennium Peaceride include REI, Tully
’s Coffee, and Trinity Parish. SAS and other airlines are
providing tickets and free shipping of the cyclists’ gear.
Private assistance is being sought along the way to
supplement these donations. Checks may be made out to
Peaceride and mailed to Seattle headquarters, 914 W. Galer
#4, Seattle, WA 98119.

The People

The Lithuanian group,  who organized the trip from their
headquarters in their nation’s capital, Vilnius, have
extensive experience cycling as well as hiking, canoeing,
and climbing in many parts of the former Soviet Union and in
Western Europe.

The cyclists spent most of their lives in a country that had
been unwillingly annexed to the Soviet Union,  so they know
political violence firsthand.  The fall of the Berlin Wall
in 1989 gave hope to the Baltic nations (Lithuania, Latvia,
and Estonia) that freedom was not far off, but a tremendous
price was paid before independence was gained.

On a bitter February day in 1991, all of the Lithuanian team
members were among the huge unarmed crowd that was trying to
keep Soviet tanks away from the Lithuanian Parliament
building and the TV broadcasting tower in the capital,
Vilnius. The Soviets fired into the defenseless crowd,
killing 13.  This attack only galvanized the country’s
determination. By fall, the Lithuanian rebellion had led the
way in restoring the independence of not only their nation
but the other Baltic states. Soon afterward, the other
Soviet republics followed suit.

Life in the post-Soviet nations has been difficult since
then, with massive job loss, high inflation, a shortage of
heating fuel, a decline in once-flourishing sciences, arts,
and sports, and escalating crime. Nevertheless, the
Lithuanians have worked hard together to re-establish their
country as a European-style democracy. The worst appears to
be over as they look forward to eventually  joining the
European Union.

Remembering the traumas of the past decade, Kucas and the
other Lithuanians will join with Russians, Poles, Croatians,
Germans, and others  in a living demonstration of their
commitment to peace. Best represented in this group are the
smaller countries that have so often been the victims of

“This trip is really from the heart,” Goda Ciplyte  said.
“Each of us can personally appreciate what peace in the
world means to the ordinary person.”

The world will be able to follow this trip as it winds its
way across 47 nations. The cyclists  will carry a 125-foot
banner on which they’ll collect the signatures of sponsors
and dignitaries at public ceremonies along the route.  They
will send regular satellite feeds to a European TV station,
will broadcast their coordinates daily via a global
positioning device, and are anticipating widespread
publicity along their journey.

The Trip

The hardy riders have been preparing for two years to make
this pilgrimage. From Seattle, the riders will bicycle down
the coast to California, then to Mexico, Central, and South
America, crossing from Chile to Argentina. From Buenos
Aires, they will take a ship to Benin and begin a trip
northward through West Africa. They will cross over from
Morocco to Spain and bicycle northward through Western and
Central Europe before turning south again to Greece, Israel
and the Middle East. Crossing Pakistan and India, they will
cycle across Southeast Asia.

Finally, as the second millennium comes to a close, the
Peace riders will take a ship from Shanghai to Nagasaki and
Hiroshima. As the second millennium ends, they will point to
the sites of the only two atomic holocausts the world has
ever known – or ever will know, if the Peace riders’ message
is heard.

If you are anywhere along the route and want to meet them,
assist them or join them for a day, a week or a month,
please contact the Sigitas at sigitas at gmpr.lt

More information about the Sustran-discuss mailing list