Bikes Change Lives

I’ve always like bikes. I used to be a bmx kid – assembled a very good bike from my lunch money when I was in grade school. We rode in groups and everyone was just great. Then I got into basketball in high school and forgot about bikes. After college I forgot about sports.

Now, I’m trying to get interested again in riding.

I’ve been riding since last 2010 but not really enough. The bike that I bought is not an expensive one. I’m not into the show, top of the line types. But I know of sSome people that spend a lot of money in bikes – makes them feel good so Its cool. But people can get pretty good bikes and not pay worth a month (or more) of their salary. I wanted to see more people riding bicycles. Its good for the environment and for someone like me who really needs to get in shape.

The pleasure of biking is seeing what you normally wouldn’t see in other modes of transport. The bike doesn’t take you to places, it doesn’t have a motor, your body does – you are the engine. This makes riding bikes a unique experience. When people see cyclist braving the elements, they think of them as some crazy nuts – but for me they’re great guys who probably fell in love with bikes when they were young and never got out of the fascination of riding.

Usually my rides are just around my town. Its not a lot of riding. So, I came up with some itinerary (I’m crossing my fingers) that would take me further. Now, there’s no way you can ride for hundreds of km’s if you’re not conditioned physically, and I’m not (and this is an understatement) but I figured that I can still visit a few places, 10 to 20 kms to start, with my bike and hopefully be back in good form to more extensive riding.

Unfortunately, bikes are not allowed inside commuter trains but in some parts of Europe, what people do is they take their bikes with them inside the trains. From the stations, they’ll just pedal their way to their destinations. In Singapore (Pasir Ris) there’s this big lot for parking bikes. It encourage people in that neighborhood to ride their bicycles.

Another problem here in our country is that we don;t have bike lanes. This lanes ensures the riders safety. Bike riders have to contend with motorized vehicles when they’re on the road. Since we have a lot of motorist with discipline issues – cyclist are at a very dangerous disadvantage.

A friend also said that Filipinos don’t bike as much because of the weather and pollution. True. But I think if the government can only give us the infrastructure more and more Filipinos would ride bikes like what is happening in the US now.



One response to “Bikes Change Lives

  • Elizabeth Medina

    I LOVE my bike. I’m 57 and I got my first bike here in Santiago 5 years ago. I live in a very central address with everything close by but there’s a lot of cars, so I ride my bike to the bank, to the supermarket when I need just a few things, to the fruit and veggie store, to pay my bills, to rent videos, to go to gym class. I have a ladies’ touring bike like the one in the video, but more streamlined, and I have the saddle high up cause I have long legs, to use all the muscle power and not just pedal with my knees bent, which is bad for the knees. I also translated into Spanish a book on bikes, Effective Cycling by John Forrester, so it was great for learning how to bike properly and what to watch out for when you bike on the sidewalk — pedestrians!!!

    About two months ago my beloved first bike was stolen. I’d ridden it to the shopping mall near here to take the subway downtown. I chained it to a lamp post. I’d already heard there were people stealing bikes with shears that could cut even through heavy chains like they were butter. So it was my turn. I was so sad. So I asked — is there a bike chain that can’t be cut? There is — KRYPTONITE LOCKS. A U-Lock, and there’s a model with a combination too. They are steel and to cut them open the thief would need an electric industrial-type chainsaw…and it would take them 20 minutes.

    I bought a new bike, this time with an aluminum frame. I’m so happy with it. The U-Lock is more of a hassle — you have to find a thin-enough metallic structure, and it takes more time cause you need to use a key. But I feel much safer now. And an aluminum frame makes a huge difference! I also found a brand of lights that you can just clip on or take off — Knog. Yep, they’re not cheap, but hey, you’ll use them for years. When motorists can see you at night, they are more polite, they yield more readily. I also always use a helmet, and bought one of those arms with a side mirror so you can see the cars or buses coming up behind you.

    When I see other cyclists on the road I feel like, hey, we’re from the same tribe. 😉 When there’ve been big demonstrations in Santiago (like against giant hydro projects in the south, or for non-profit quality education), lots of cyclists go on their bikes.

    I tell them: get yourself a U-Lock. It’s more expensive, but it’s even more expensive when your bike gets stolen.

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