The Philippines’ First National Bicycle Day

I-National-Bicycle-Day-Philippines

From National Bicycle Organization’s WordPress site:

November 23, 2014  is the 1st National Bicycle Day in the Philippines!

This year, with the daily, time-consuming, stress-filled traffic gridlock that has been the general scene all over the metropolis, bicycling  makes more sense than driving a car, squeezing into a toxic-fume-spewing jeep/bus or even lining up to take the crowded and dreaded MRT/LRT  to get to one’s destination.

(read more…)

For fifteen years, Manila had the Tour of the Fireflies bike tour / parade organized by the Firefly Brigade to spread awareness about the benefits of riding your bike. Now, it’s spreading across the country with the very FIRST National Bicycle Day! The aim hasn’t changed, and it’s a day of parading through the streets of Manila and other major cities of the Philippines using only these non-motorized transport units along with a horde of other fellow bicyclists on the road.

I will be biking and joining this event this coming Sunday in Tiendesitas, Pasig City. If you’ve got a bike, there’s enough time to prep it! The event is FREE, so get your gear and get going! This is a particularly good event to start, especially for my fellow Grundfos IS bike colleagues, to get a good feel of a Sunday morning with your bike, your friends, and countless other Filipinos pushing for change.

See you on the road!!

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Bike Commuting Road Hazards

Since my new office moved its location from Makati City to Pasig City this October, I’ve gotten back to my bike2work scheme, thanks to the office’s generous support for bike commuters like me by providing shower facilities and ample parking space courtesy of the building admin. From two bike warriors, by this week I’m counting at least four of us who have started to bike-commute from our homes! That’s not to mention several more who by now are considering and saving up for their own bikes to bring to the office. For someone who pushes and advocates bike commuting in Manila, this is surely good news, and is something that I definitely, wholeheartedly appreciate.

The thing is, unlike other countries which have waaaaay better cycling infrastructure, Manila’s metropolis has a lot of shortcomings especially in terms of support for bike commuting. For one, the roads are mostly car-centric, and that there are several hazards on the road that the usual cyclist needs to be aware of.

Case in point: The stretch of Ortigas Avenue along the town of Cainta, Rizal and Pasig City.

The extinction of multi-purpose sidewalks

Ortigas Avenue near Ever Gotesco mall

Ortigas Avenue near Ever Gotesco mall

 

Road widenings have become the easy solution for clogged-up thoroughfares such as Ortigas Avenue. Years ago, at this particular area near Ever Gotesco mall, there was a tree-lined sidewalk that was about two meters wide, enough for pedestrians and bikers to go through to escape the heavy traffic that has always been present. Eventually, a road widening project was made to remove this sidewalk completely to provide another lane to the vehicles plying Ortigas! The road may have been widened, but there is no more sidewalk that pedestrians can safely use. The heavy traffic never really went away, though.

For the bike commuter going through here, this project that was never completed [properly!] introduced a lot of problems. I can attest to this because I encounter them each and every time I bike-commute. Aside from the disappearance of the sidewalk with trees, several more issues remained.

The asphalting job that was never completed

Talk about several different layers of asphalt and concrete that pose a threat to bikers

Talk about several different layers of asphalt and concrete that pose a threat to bikers

A fresh layer of asphalt was poured on top of the old concrete road when this project was started. Fine. The thing is, years after all that widening effort and drainage improvements, the extended part of the road still remained unasphalted! It really reminds me of Banaue’s rice terraces, but I’m certain that the terraces look and feel much more relaxing.

Banaue rice terraces, Ifugao, Philippines. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

For bike commuters, it’s dangerous to have these kinds of uneven surfaces, especially those who are on folding bikes, because they can easily get knocked over if they happen to switch from one layer to another.

 

THOSE drainage covers from hell

The infamous rectangular drainage covers of Ortigas Avenue

The infamous rectangular drainage covers of Ortigas Avenue

So there’s value added to that road widening project — by widening the underlying drainage as well. Just look at that. Hideous. Every three to five meters there’s a group of rectangular drainage covers that isn’t level with the rest of the road. Definitely makes biking along this stretch hellish, especially when the bus and jeepneys force you to veer to the right side of the road. I’ve gotten several annoying instances of flat tires due to small screws, stapler wires, and others that happen to be just beside these covers. Voila! Instant hassle because of an instant flat tire.

 

Bike commuting in Manila is quite manageable, in my opinion. There are risks, of course, but definitely calculated ones whose dangers we can minimize. However, we, advocates of biking and a better environment in general, would quite appreciate seeing improved conditions on roads we cycle through. I hope to bring this to the attention of the concerned local government units of Cainta and Pasig, as well as the Public Works department, so that these hazards can be lessened, and everyone else can benefit.

Video

Sunday Biking in Emerald Avenue

Pasig City has its carless Sundays along Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Central Business District’s main avenue. Bringing along my Strida a couple of weeks ago, I took a video to show how it feels and looks like going through it end to end, slowly, on two wheels.

This CBD’s Carless Sundays make up for its lack of a decent, large open park. Hope we get to have more of these for Manila CBDs soon. :-)

 

Bike on the road

Bike to Work: The Essentials

It’s been a couple of months since I last rode my bike to work, and it’s been even longer since I last posted on this blog of mine!

I’m back on the saddle now, kicking off Season 4 of my bike2work adventures in a brand new location in Pasig City. It’s great to be back flying! ;-)

When word got around in the office of decent bike parking and shower facilities in our new location, a lot of guys got interested in doing bike commuting as well. Who wouldn’t, given the sorry state of transport systems in Manila?

I thought of coming up with a “recipe” of important things to bring when bike commuting. This is a list of what works for me, and it would depend on each person to customize stuff as necessary. I sure hope this helps anyone considering bike commuting.

To bring along for the Ride

Dahon Vitesse D7

  1. Your bike – obviously! I use my trusty three-year old Dahon Vitesse D7 for my bike commute. It’s still debatable which kind of bike is best for bike commuting, but portability-wise, it’s a folding bike, hands down.
  2. Bike standard toolkit – it’s essential that any bike commuter knows his/her way with the bike!Bike First Aid Kit
    1. bike pump – always, always, always make sure that your bike’s tires have the right pressure, every day. If you’re doing it for your car, you should do the same for your bike.
    2. patch kit – usually costing only ₱30-60 from your favorite bike shop.
    3. tire levers – optional, but quite helpful to ease with removing / replacing the tire on the rim
    4. repair tools, i.e., hex key (“allen”) wrench, multi-tool
  3. Protective gear
    1. helmet – always keep in mind: No helmet, No ride!
    2. mask – balaclava, totobobo masks, or even the typical 3M masks sold in drugstores. You wouldn’t want to inhale too much of that smog enveloping Manila, no?
    3. headlights, rear lights – by the time you log-out of the office, it’s already pretty dark. Aside from avoiding city ordinances’ penalties on not using lights, it’s mostly an issue of visibility and safety.

      bike accessories

      Bike rear light, headlight, a bell, and the bike chain (MasterLock brand).

  4. Bike chain lock – quite the necessity to secure your bike. Unless you’re a folding bike user like me who has the option to bring the bike wherever I go.
  5. hydration – Bring a water bottle. Manila’s climate is unforgiving to those who fail to drink up!

To leave at the office

  1. Complete set of clothing – it would be good if you can bring a week’s worth of clothing so you don’t have to bring one set with you every day
  2. Toiletries – shower facilities babeh!! So you might as well bring soap, shampoo, comb and other personal effects you can think of. Don’t forget the towel hahaha!
  3. Shoes – I just leave my black leather shoes at the office. Just be aware that there might be days that you are not going to bike commute, so plan accordingly, lest you go to office with a shoes unmatched with your get-up!
  4. Extra plastic bags – for soiled clothing to bring at the end of the day

And before I end this article, always keep in mind — SAFETY FIRST! As is the same with being a pedestrian and a motorist, always have presence of mind on the road. Ride safe, and enjoy!