Cuba has the most diverse traffic of any place that I have travelled.  There are cars, of course, more than there were 20 years ago, but still far fewer than in most countries.  The ‘50s classic cars, a stereotype of the country, still do in fact constitute a large percentage of the cars on the road.  These cars look better than they did when we were here 20 years ago, though a peek inside most of them will reveal all sorts of modifications not contemplated by Detroit.  There are also still a lot of Ladas on the road, some in good condition, but many quite bombed out.  One also sees many buses and heavy trucks from a variety of periods and countries of manufacture.  The logos on many of the older, heavy trucks is written in Cyrillic, so they must be from Russia or Eastern Europe.  Without the money or parts to maintain vehicles, many of the older ones spew great clouds of smoke.

The cars and trucks, however, constitute only a portion of the traffic on the road; in the cities a minority of it.  The remainder of the traffic is a diverse mix of bicycles, motorcycles, horse drawn vehicles, and electric carts and motorcycles.  The human and horse propelled vehicles come in many sizes and shapes.  In the towns the majority of the taxis, including some that are transporting six passengers, are powered by muscle.

There are a surprising number of shiny new electric vehicles on the road.  Cuba has a carbon emission reduction plan, and electric vehicles are part of it.  Electricity is subsidized in Cuba and very cheap, though there are definitely supply issues.  We have experienced a number of blackouts, some for many hours.  Most of the electrical vehicles are little motorcycles that pass us noiselessly, unless the stereo system is on.  (Our current host, Tania, has said she would love to have one of these.  We have seen them in the dollar stores, where they cost US$1980.)  There are also many larger vehicles for several people or some cargo.  Their motors are quite small, usually just a kilowatt (about 1 1/2 hp) but they often function as taxis in town.  They cost US$4000 to 5000 in the dollar stores.

The traffic contributes to the positive experience that cyclists have in Cuba.  To begin with, many of the other vehicles are also bicycles, and your expensive foreign bike is faster and more agile that their Flying Pigeons (old Chinese bikes) or heavy bike taxis.  And because there are so many other types of slow moving vehicles, cars and trucks are surprisingly courteous to bikes.  There are of course exceptions, mostly in the sprinkling of late-model cars and tourist buses, but Cuba remains an excellent country to tour by bicycle.

Speaking of bicycle touring, our tripometer rolled through 1000 kms today.

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