Social distancing and traffic? Bike
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Social distancing and visitors? Bike

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Bike commuter wears private protecting tools, together with a face defend, in public market in Laguna. —EARVIN PERIAS

Using a bicycle for mobility within the Philippines isn’t only a way of life selection, it’s an act of resistance.

The whole lot, it typically appears, has been designed to work towards the bicycle owner. Our highway system was designed round automobiles and different motorized automobiles, with no provision for bicycles and hardly any for pedestrians. Bicycle lanes, after they exist in any respect, are sometimes a poorly designed afterthought—higher than nothing, however not a lot else.

Bike parking consists of some token racks in some malls. As for lockers and bathe services in locations of labor, dream on.

The bicycle retail trade itself favors costly highway racing and off-road bikes designed for leisure. Cyclists on the lookout for sensible, reasonably priced machines for on a regular basis commuting must roll their very own, or look to the grey marketplace for surplus Japanese “mama-chari” (mother’s bikes).

Regardless of these obstacles, the native bicycle tradition has managed to thrive.

Biking tribes embrace roadies and mountain bike weekend riders, mounted gear and folding bike fanatics, and hardcore bicycle commuters.

Passionate, tenacious

Filipino bicycle advocates are a passionate and tenacious lot. They’ve seen the sunshine: Biking brings health, is sweet for the surroundings, and affords an alternative choice to visitors woes.

The sight of important employees using bicycles to work throughout the quarantine has opened up an area within the public discourse for biking teams to push their agenda. For the previous few weeks, bicycle advocacy teams have flooded mainstream and social media with requires together with the bicycle in any planning for the post-pandemic “new regular.”

Final Might 15, a coalition of bicycle advocates introduced authorities with a “Petition for Inclusion of Bicycling in Submit-Quarantine Transportation Measures”:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made one factor abundantly clear: We can not resolve this disaster by appearing as if it had been enterprise as normal. Social distancing will turn out to be a part of on a regular basis life, and it’ll put a pressure on current social companies, particularly the general public transit sector…”

“We want a fast-acting answer that may uphold social distancing and get our work drive to their locations. Bicycling is a straightforward and straightforward reply, as might be seen in lots of progressive cities on this planet. Bicycling generally is a most popular mode of transportation that permits Filipinos to train, cowl an excellent distance, carry some load, and reduce the time uncovered to potential carriers of the virus whereas making the environment more healthy and our cities extra humane.”

Amongst different issues, the petition referred to as for the creation of linked bicycle lanes inside cities, offering security measures for cyclists by way of “bodily highway provisions, visitors calming measures, in addition to by educating motorists on sharing the highway and giving technique to cyclists,” and enacting legal guidelines and ordinances to advertise and shield bicycling.

“There’s quite a lot of curiosity in biking now as a way of transportation, as a result of there’s nothing else that folks can do,” former Comelec commissioner and biking advocate Gregorio Larrazabal stated in a radio discuss present. “Pero pustahan tayo, as quickly because the ECQ is lifted, folks will overlook about bicycles as a way of transportation as a result of they are going to transfer on. So how do you maintain this?”

Alarming visitors surge

The alarming surge in automobile visitors after the ECQ was “modified” may properly show Larrazabal proper. However there have been a number of encouraging indicators.

A couple of forward-thinking native governments equivalent to Marikina Metropolis and Iloilo Metropolis have created bicycle pathways which were cited as potential fashions for different cities and cities.

Taguig Metropolis constructed a 3-meter-wide separate bicycle lane alongside the C-6 freeway—solely 6 km lengthy, however nonetheless…

Extra not too long ago, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto directed the growth of the town’s bicycle pathways to offer mobility for residents throughout the quarantine.

Maybe most importantly, the Metro Manila Growth Authority introduced that authorities plans for the brand new regular may embrace a separate bicycle lane alongside Edsa, an thought that will have been unthinkable earlier than the pandemic.

Employee carries his bike to cross Marcos Freeway on Might 18, the primary day of labor underneath MECQ. —NINO JESUS ORBETA

“Within the Philippines and in lots of locations on this planet the place there had been no current tradition of biking as transport, insurance policies and applications for biking had been put in place as a result of there have been champions in authorities positions—within the particular person of often the mayor (e.g. Bogota, Colombia),” stated Katti Sta. Ana, convenor of the Firefly Brigade, the nation’s longest-running bicycle advocacy group.

An artist and artwork educator with a background in city planning, Sta. Ana was instrumental in planning and developing Marikina’s system of bicycle paths when she served as a marketing consultant throughout the time period of former Mayor Bayani Fernando.

Marikina is usually cited for instance of a bicycling-friendly metropolis, however Sta. Ana believes it takes extra than simply infrastructure to maintain biking as a type of every day transportation.

Schooling

“What are the teachings from the Marikina expertise? That schooling is essential: growing a tradition of biking begins within the residence—the household, continued at school, protected and espoused by society by way of insurance policies.

“As seen in Marikina, like all insurance policies, it might simply be put aside, with the change in decision-makers (elected and appointed officers) who could not have an appreciation for them.

“But when biking is a lifestyle for kids, and its significance is taught within the residence and at school, there’s a larger likelihood that it’ll additionally turn out to be part of the lifetime of the town. If everybody appreciates biking as transport, and everybody rides the bicycle to go to market, college and different errands, even only for brief distances, biking and cyclists will likely be protected. Bike lanes could be a contented bonus, and never a necessity.”

A newer instance outdoors Metro Manila is Iloilo Metropolis, one other bike-friendly metropolis the place biking has additionally confirmed a sensible mobility answer within the pandemic.

“We’ve got two separate organized efforts initiated in Iloilo in assist of the front-liners’ mobility throughout the quarantine interval,” stated Iloilo artist and bicycle advocate Rock Drilon.

“One is by the native authorities by way of its Bike Council, which partnered with the tour group FitStop to lend bamboo bikes to front-liners, and one other by a university-based bike group, C4f, whose members volunteered to lend their bikes to medical doctors and nurses throughout the lockdown. The streets had been empty so many individuals opted to make use of the bicycle as a way of transport. The bike infrastructure offered added confidence to newbie bikers.”

Drilon added that the native authorities is planning to additional broaden the town’s bicycle infrastructure to attach main locations equivalent to plazas, malls, markets and colleges.

“When realized, a extra complete bike lane community for Iloilo Metropolis will likely be in place throughout the pandemic so Ilonggos on bicycles might be safer when biking to work, college, doing errands and ultimately, when biking only for leisure and doing bike excursions, which was gaining floor earlier than COVID,” Drilon stated.

Extra than simply infrastructure, nonetheless, a wider acceptance of biking by Filipinos requires a major shift in mindset.

Much less materialism

“We actually must have a larger appreciation for the easy issues in life that construct neighborhood,” stated Firefly Brigade’s Sta. Ana.

“Sadly, folks in our society are more and more turning into materialistic and consumerist. We’ve constructed a tradition round automobiles, malls and condos. Have a look at us now. Regardless of how a lot we widen our roads, they nonetheless get crammed up by automobiles. And we’re all so pressured by the gridlock. We’re spending much less high quality time with our households due to it. We get right into a highway rage; we’re killing each other due to visitors!”

“Hopefully, this pandemic will reorient us to the fundamentals: that folks want meals, good well being, household, buddies and a straightforward method of getting round for our primary requirements—a job to pay for the fundamentals, and meals to feed ourselves. We’ve seen how automobiles, condos, malls have contributed to congestion and unhealthy existence.

“As has been stated, and which till now rings true: The bicycle is the best human invention. It has confirmed itself by way of time—It doesn’t trigger hurt if pedaled at an inexpensive pace; it doesn’t pollute the surroundings; it’s powered by human vitality; it might take folks locations, it might construct neighborhood, it brings folks pleasure.”

As the author H.G. Wells as soon as stated: “Each time I see an grownup on a bicycle, I now not despair for the way forward for the human race.”