Biking can be a fun and easy way to burn calories but if you’re in Manila, biking can be a LOT more complicated than you think.
As much as I’d like to use my bike as often as possible to get around Manila, the struggle to do so is definitely real. Here are six reasons why.
1. Being forced to bike in the pedestrian lane.
Believe me, cyclists hate biking in the pedestrian lane. But we’re often forced to do it since there aren’t a lot of bike lanes in the metro just yet.
While we appreciate the bike lanes that we have right now, motorists seem to appreciate them also.
They use them as parking spaces!
Most cyclists are torn between choosing biking on the main road and getting hit by a car (or bus!) OR hopping on the pedestrian lane and trying to avoid pedestrians playing Clash of Clans.
2. Colliding with an open car door.
One of the biggest fears of urban cycling is getting doored. The metro is a very busy place and it’s really hard to see cyclists coming.
Most of the time, drivers/passengers are at fault since they’re supposed to look out for oncoming traffic before opening the door.
Quick tip: Be very cautious when biking on the road. Stay on the right side of the road whenever possible. If a car stops ahead of you, it’s very likely that someone will get out of the car. Slow down and prepare to brake if someone does open the car door.
3. Every commute is like preparing for battle.
Believe it or not, it’s just like Aragorn preparing for the war of Helm’s Deep. You wear your helmet and you prepare your bike before going outside.
As you ride in the streets, you constantly have to watch out for oncoming traffic, crossing pedestrians, people walking towards you (yes, it happens), cars trying to cut you, buses, and jeepneys trying to cut you off, and other cyclists passing on your left and right.
4. Jaywalking pedestrians are like walking piñatas waiting to get hit.
And speaking of pedestrians who illegally cross the street, how about those who see oncoming traffic and walk even slower?
It’s understandable if pedestrians are elderly or people w/ disabilities. But it’s just nerve-racking to see fully capable pedestrians who won’t even bother walking faster to avoid oncoming vehicles.
Slow down in known jaywalking areas.
5. Using bike lights brighter than a Christmas tree is sometimes still not enough.
Based on my personal experience both as a cyclist and a motorist, having lots of blinking lights on your bike while riding at night is sometimes just not enough.
I was once driving along McKinley Road. From a far, the road seemed empty. But all of a sudden, two bicycles covered in blinking lights appeared. Unfortunately, most of the lights were placed on the side of the bike and attached to their arms. Good thing I saw them early enough! If not, I might not be here to write this article since I’d be in prison.
As a cyclist, before going to UP Diliman for my weekly early morning rides, I always make sure I have all the necessary lights to ensure that motorists see me.
While cruising along Congressional Ave., a jeepney cut me off! I confronted the driver and he said that he didn’t really notice me. He apologized for the incident but I’m not sure whether he was telling the truth or my lights really weren’t effective enough.
As much as possible, try not to bike at night or super early in the morning.
6. Riding beside a bus or jeep right when it deploys its smog screen.
And the worse of it all? Smog. Just like Smaug in The Hobbit, smog is bad news for you since it can cause a LOT of problems. It affects your lungs, eyes, and skin. Worse, jeeps and buses pumping out thick black smoke in your face can cause you to lose balance and crash.
Given the sheer number of smoke belching vehicles, sometimes you wonder whether it’s even possible to even safely bike in Metro Manila!