When I was in year 6, my mum bought me a mountain bike to use around the compound we lived in called Islander Village in Port Moresby. It was owned by the hotel right next to it called the Islander Hotel (now Holiday Inn) and we lived in the newer portion of the village with newer houses but you had to drive up a small hill to get there. I used to spend my days after school playing cricket or rugby with the rest of the kids in the village and before going home, I would try to get up that hill. I had no concept of changing gears then even though they were readily available. My sister and I were sent away to boarding school the following year and with that, my bike was put into storage, never to be seen again.
I picked up cycling again two years ago when one of my good friends Jones moved to the UK to work and I ended up looking after her bike. It was an old school type of bike, red in color and unlike the mountain bikes you see nowadays, it didn’t have suspension. I was also highly influenced by local folk singer and fellow cyclist and climate activist Nityalila who would ride her folding bike to and from work. I was frightened of biking around the city so I bought a very cheap bike rack for the car and would drive to Nuvali on occasion and ride around for hours. Eventually that got boring so I stopped going, work got busier and I was losing sleep and eventually, I stopped biking altogether and the bike ended up gathering dust in the carpark.
It wasn’t until this year that I took up cycling again and instead of limiting myself to just Nuvali, I braved the streets of Manila and would end up cycling from one end of the city to the other. As my cycling days rolled on, cycling in the city ended up getting easier and easier. Since I was really only cycling around the city for exercise and for leisure, I didn’t really have the need to chain my bike anywhere for hours on end and when I did have to, there would always be a place for me to temporarily park it. I did notice though that areas where bikes are vastly seen roaming around the streets didn’t have secured bike parking spots.
I made a vow to myself that once I get a job, I’d make it a thing to cycle to work. One of the general issues I have with myself when working out is that I build up a truckload of sweat. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be just from working out but even when walking from one place to another, sweat would build up like anything. So cycling was no different. When I was unemployed, I would frequently cycle to the pool and back and the sweat wouldn’t be a problem because I’d be swimming and heading home and I didn’t have to see anyone or be anywhere in particular where I had to look clean. I experienced all of that when I tried cycling to work. All I needed to do was bring a towel and of course a change of clothes for work and clothes that I would wear to cycle back home.
I came across this link from one of the bike groups I belonged to on Facebook and I thought it was worthy enough for me to create a post about it and hopefully it’ll be pushed to other groups as well. The survey consists of questions about the purpose of cycling and what a cyclist would like to see when it comes to bike parking. To me, it is essential to always have a place to clean yourself up (and be able to take a shower is a plus plus!), to have a water station nearby and of course, a nice, secured place to chain up your bike. There have been a lot of movements and calls to take action to promote cycling as the better mode of transportation – all of which I support. But I think we need to remember that there are also the small things we need to consider if we want to cycle to work.
I will be moving to Quezon City soon which is further from where I am currently living. The usual 40 min bike ride from my place to work will then turn into an hour’s ride and I plan on doing more cycling to work once things settle down for me. Although this survey is just a study, I hope this reaches the right people in higher positions and to more people who cycle so that our LGU’s would take action, and more over, private establishments such as buildings would consider cyclists and their hygiene.