- Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January 2015 14:15
- Published: Wednesday, 22 October 2014 12:47
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Myth 1: Bicyclists don’t pay road tax so they don’t have the right to use the road.
Argument to debunk this myth: With exceptions related to actual income received, we all pay our taxes to the government. In fact, the average wage earners are already being taxed in the form withholding tax which is automatically deducted even before they receive their total monthly pay. We can therefore say that the average worker who uses his bike to work can without doubt claim the right to use the road. We don’t need to discuss in what particular way our taxes are used but suffice it to say that all those who pay their taxes can use the road because the government spent taxpayers' money in building those roads. But it doesn’t mean that bigger vehicles have more rights than the smaller bicycles. Bigger vehicles can use more space of course because they need it but it should not be at the expense of bicycles being waylaid along the road. We need to respect each other and give each other their rightful space on the road.
Myth 2: Roads are for motorized vehicles only.
Argument to debunk this myth: Before we continue, it is fitting to ask at this point which came first, the bicycle or motorized car. An easy Internet research revealed that it is the bicycle that came first and if we believe this, then the bicycle should have the primacy in road use. However, no motorists will readily assume that this is true and will thus argue and claim the opposite. So let’s assume that modern roads are built with motorized vehicles as their target users. We can do nothing else but accept this narrow-minded conclusion. But the truth is, this is where our road builders and our government enter into a great error - modern roads should not be built exclusively for motorized vehicles. We must accept the fact too, that bicycles will become more widespread in the near future and if we look further beyond, when fossil fuel will be exhausted, bicycles might be the only viable means of efficient transportation. There is space available for the bicycle on our roads; we all own the roads but we need to share so that we can look forward to a future that is both safe and secure for all road users, bicyclists and motorists alike.
Myth 3: Bicyclists think they own the road.
Argument to debunk this myth: The proper way to debunk this myth is to ask: Why do motorists think that bicyclists think they own the road? We ask this because we believe that the only ones who are likely to believe this myth are motorists who themselves think that they own the road. You may say that with this argument, we could be starting a turf war. No we are not but in a certain way and for safety’s sake, bicyclists need to own the road because otherwise, a bicyclist is more likely to be sideswiped or pushed out of the road by a car or worse, by a truck. Owning the road for a bicyclist means being on the right lane or occupying the proper space that will give him enough leeway to avoid obstructions on either sides – a car on his left or a pothole on his right. The perverted meaning of this myth is that bicyclists are perceived to be law breakers when it comes to road use. But given the proportion of bicyclists to motorists, you can easily see that there are more motorists who violate the laws of the road.
|There is space available for the bicycle on our roads; we all own the roads but we need to share so that we can look forward to a future that is both safe and secure for all road users, bicyclists and motorists alike.|
Myth 4: Bicycles are just toys for kids.
Argument to debunk this myth: We might just have to agree to this myth but we do so with a caution and an addition: a bicycle is a toy for kids and for "kids at heart." Yeah baby, give me a bike! Of course kids like bikes and many adults who have current love affairs with bikes started when they were kids and it continued up to their adult life. And they are mighty proud of it! But then, bikes do need to be taken seriously and you should not treat it like it is just a toy, especially when you use your beloved two-wheeler on the road as your regular means of transportation. Cheap toys break easily and could cause injuries. Good quality toys cost more but are better in the long run. It’s your choice but the important thing is to enjoy and continue bicycling happily. And it’s really good for the heart!
Myth 5: Bicycling is not safe, especially on our roads.
Argument to debunk this myth: Let’s put it this way: no physical activity involving mechanical parts can be totally safe and since bicycling involves using a mechanical thing, then it may be considered not totally safe. However, as with other sports activities, protecting yourself with appropriate safety gear will go a long way to mitigate or eliminate certain risks. The second part of this myth on the other hand, needs more than just protective gears. We need to call on our public officials to do more than just carve bike lanes out of existing roads. (See related article link below.) We need to create bicycling legislations that make sense and are truly meant to protect bicyclists.
Myth 6: Bicycling to work takes longer than using your car.
Argument to debunk this myth: At first glance, this myth can be really hard to debunk since a motorized vehicle can certainly go faster and further than a mere bicycle. However, this is where bicyclists can prove that they can be smarter than car drivers when it comes to choosing where to pass and choose which way to go where there is less traffic and less pollution. A bicycle can cut through traffic or go where cars couldn’t. A bicyclist can discover shorter routes by going through side streets or just about anywhere where the bicycle can squeeze through. Imagine being stuck in traffic and going nowhere for even up to one hour! A bicyclist would have arrived at his destination anywhere within 15 to 20 kilometers in one hour or less. And the bicyclist would have done it without spending a single centavo for gasoline (well, maybe a few pesos for snacks and water) and best of all, he didn't have to contribute to global warming.
The MMDA seems to think that constructing (read: carving) bike lanes out of existing streets will encourage more people to bike and leave their cars at their garages...
Myth 7: It’s too hot or it rains too much to ride a bike.
Argument to debunk this myth: The truth of course is we cannot control the weather; we can only rely on DOST weather forecasting and take actions based on what they tell us would be the weather during the next few hours or within the day. But this is where bicyclists can take advantage of what is available to them. It wouldn't be easy to carry an umbrella to protect yourself against either the sun or rain. A better solution is to have the appropriate gear to protect you from overexposure to the sun or becoming dangerously wet in the rain. Just like wearing safety gear to protect your head and limbs from being injured in an accident, so should you have rain gear and protective clothing. It will always be either hot or wet in this country anytime of the year but it should not be enough to prevent us from riding our bike.
Myth 8: You shouldn’t bike to work because you'll arrive all sweaty and stinky
Argument to debunk this myth: Let’s make science our ally here: sweat in itself doesn’t stink; it is when we allow sweat to stay in our body where germs that cause bad odor take hold and multiply. If you change from your bicycling clothes to your regular clean working clothes then this myth is certainly busted. A quick shower, if your company has shower facilities will certainly help you clean up and smell good. You can also use a face towel or a larger one to wipe off the sweat before changing clothes if there isn’t any shower room.
Myth 9: Bicycling causes men to become impotent.
Argument to debunk this myth: A quick question here: what country has the highest population in the world? Answer: China. You would be wondering what China’s population has to do with this myth. Well, everything! China is a nation of bicyclists and thus you can just draw your own conclusion. They even have imposed population control and still they come out on top of the population game. If bicycling indeed causes impotence, then China wouldn’t have more than one billion people (1,355,692,576) many of whom are bicyclists (this website says its 430 million in 2010 or 32.5% of the population while another website says that it has gone down as it talks about the de-bikification of China - bicycle use in Beijing has dropped from about 60% in 1986 to 17% in 2010) There have been several studies that tried to discover the facts behind this myth but our research did not uncover certainties but rather more questions than answers. But suffice it to say for now that if you enjoy sex, there is no reason for you not to enjoy bicycling as well. You can put much fun between your legs in the bed as well as on the road.
Myth 10: Bicycling is not popular among women.
Argument to debunk this myth: A survey among bicyclists will give us the numbers and either prove or debunk this myth. However, we don’t have any information at the moment but a quick observation of participants in our monthly CMR will tell us that indeed, bicycling is popular among women. (For information about women in cycling in the US, click here.) The Firefly Brigade itself was founded by a woman, Katti Sta. Ana, whose initiatives, together with other equally motivated men and women, more than fifteen years ago paved the way for a more vigorous participation of bicyclists in nation-building today. Even the incumbent President of the Firefly Brigade is a woman, Karen Crisostomo. Here is an interestingly titled article written by Mon Fernan, one of our writers and also one of the founding fathers of the Firefly Brigade, regarding women and cycling: Cycling is Awfully Similar to Being a Woman. Also, as a result of our collective bicycling efforts, we are now on our way to having a true National Bicycle Day – a dream that the Firefly Brigade started working for in 2012 in cooperation with the Climage Change Commission. It is a proof that we all can contribute something to start solving problems that affect us all – conserving the environment and taking steps to stop global warming. We can celebrate this very special day because of women and men who ride bikes and are on the forefront of debunking these myths in order to encourage more people to ride bicycles.
Do you know of other cycling myths that you believe are not true and want to present arguments on how to debunk them? Please share them with us in the comment section.