- Published: Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:03
- Written by Administrator
- Hits: 3203
We can always mention the lack of cycling infrastructure, bad weather, aggravating pollution and many other factors as reasons for not wanting to use the bicycle for our daily commute. And no one would contradict them for these are facts. Even veteran cyclists are sometimes reluctant to ride their bikes to their destinations because of them. However, while these could eventually be overcome if only our government could find the political will to develop solutions for and our present generation of drivers will learn to accept, there is another factor that could be more insurmountable for certain individuals – the fear of cycling.
|No psychology here, just practical solutions anyone can apply to themselves ...You need to understand what options you have.|
We will not delve into the psychology of fear and why some people do develop this fear. (Read this article for more information about the complexities of fear of cycling.) Rather, let us look at ways that ordinary people can do to overcome their fear of cycling and just go and bike. No psychology here, just practical solutions anyone can apply to themselves.
It is natural to avoid danger. As children, we were taught by the adults around us to avoid instances wherein we are liable to inadvertently put ourselves into physical danger. And then later, as adults we tend to look at things we don’t understand as dangerous. Bicycling unfortunately falls into this category of danger. Some people look at the sorry state of our roads, the hot, polluted environment, the reckless drivers who seem to rule the streets, and immediately conclude that based on what they saw, it is dangerous to bike and consequently, they avoid even thinking of cycling. Well, if you think this way, there is still hope for you. But how do you overcome this fear of cycling that resulted from what you see happening around you? You need to understand what options you have.
1. If it’s traffic and reckless drivers that are stopping you from biking, understand that you can plan your route to avoid main streets.
There will be parallel streets alongside the main street you have been used to passing, whether you were driving your car or riding a jeepney or taxi. You can look into Google Maps to find out alternative routes and plot your course to your work or any destination in the city.
What it does for you: Planning your route can help overcome your fear of traffic and drivers.
One of the things that make cycling so enjoyable is that it gives you a sense of freedom and power. You can pedal till you drop and at the end of the last kilometer...
2. Pollution is everywhere in Metro Manila but understand that not all have the same high levels of pollutants.
This means that again, you can plot your route to avoid highly polluted main streets and you can depend on Google Maps to identify which streets are less travelled by motorized transport.
What it does for you: This will help you reduce your exposure to pollutants.
3. Bike lanes may be a hot idea for some because they see them working in other countries such as the Netherlands. However, we must not kid ourselves that creating bike lanes in our crowded city streets is the answer to our cycling problem.
Bike lanes work in those countries because both bikers and motorists know the meaning of discipline and submit themselves to the law. Lack of cycling infrastructure, specifically bike lanes, will be a non-issue for those who understand that there are other options they can choose that will negate the need for bike lanes. Personal safety of course will always be a top priority and it should be yours. Therefore, when you bike, you should always wear personal safety gear, including helmet, gloves, knee and shin guards, and if you ride at night, lights that will make you visible to other road users.
The key to what we have been saying is understanding your options and acting upon them. Understanding what else you can do instead of letting existing conditions stop you is your key to overcoming your fear of cycling. In practical terms this means obeying traffic and pedestrian laws, googling your route to find out the best route to follow, wearing a helmet, knowing how to fix your bike and having common sense to avoid unnecessary risks. No psychology there, just practical solutions.