(As an environmental organization, Haribon Foundation encourages a green lifestyle such as using alternative modes of transportation that reduce one’s ecological footprint. The organization prides itself of having staff and members who are ardent bike riders. Today, a Haribon staff member shares his enthusiasm in using the bicycle as his mode of transportation to and from work.)
Eyes on the road, steady breathing and legs pumping. I can go as fast or as slow as I can. As I go faster, faces blur around me. Slowing down, I can see impatient and even worried faces of people in their motorized vehicles and passengers waiting by the pavement for buses or jeepneys. It feels good to be free of these commuters’ woes, being able to dodge the daily traffic with a bicycle. Like a ‘runners high’, the metro takes on a different flavor with a bicycle.
I ride my bike 7.5 kilometers everyday from the house to the office. Weaving along the quiet streets and short cuts, it takes me 30 minutes to reach the office. Plus there’s little or no maintenance cost for my pedal-powered ride. When I take the jeepney to work it takes me between 45 minutes to an hour to get there, without traffic. On bad days, when it’s raining and or during the school season, it can take up to two hours to get home from the office using the jeepney. Of course, I can also opt to take the “fast” mass transit options but it has become a nightmare ride for many.
With my bike, I can dodge strangers’ elbows digging into my ribs. I don’t have to use main roads with long car cues waiting for the slow-to-turn green light. I can even stop and take time to eat at my favorite barbecue stand, or talk to an acquaintance I pass by on the road whenever I feel like it.
As a biker, I begin to be more observant of road access and safety conditions. Yes, it’s frustrating to have limited access and interconnecting lanes due to poor and haphazard road planning. But I see some progress over the years that encourages me to continue my endeavor.
Our country urgently needs to invest in safe bike lanes to address the need of the growing biker population as well as encourage more people to join. We need to call on our local government and national agencies to address our basic right for wide, safe and exclusive bike roads, with bike ramps and elevated gutter, zero potholes and obstructing lamp posts, and bike parking too. This will also help significantly reduce traffic and lessen air pollution.
Biking brings other benefits to our general well-being as well—not only do we get to exercise and enjoy the scenery, we also get to our destinations on time. I hope that regular commuters get to experience what it’s like to bike around the metro and not be at the mercy of the daily traffic. Once you get on the biking groove, you will find it difficult to go back to the conventional commuting routine ever again. I look forward to that day when biking will be the normal commute of the larger population.
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