- Published: Tuesday, 09 December 2014 14:37
- Written by Administrator
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New ideas are the lifeblood of groups of people working together towards a common goal. While old and tried ones will always work given the right circumstances, it is the new ones that provide excitement and motivation to discover new ways to achieve the group's goal. Bicycling is getting renewed interests from all walks of life in the Philippines and we are hoping the trend will continue to prosper in the coming years. To help bicycling advocates, here we present ideas taken from other countries that we hope can help uplift sagging bicycling spirits.
1. Business owners in Vancouver, Canada are finding out that bicycling is good for business.
This is happening not only in Canada but in many countries as well. There is a growing trend for businesses around the world to include bicycle infrastructure in their facilities. Whereas before, some business owners frowned upon admitting bicycles into their premises and avoided putting up bicycle parking spaces, they are now actively promoting their establishment using their bicycle facilities as their selling point. It should not be hard to see that bicycling in the Philippines is gaining popularity and that bicyclists here are a mix of different members of our own social strata. However, we cannot discount the fact that we can still observe discrimination against bicyclists among many of the country’s establishments such as malls, fastfood restaurants and other similar businesses. Many of them still have no secure, adequate and proper bicycle parking areas. Thus, bicyclists who want to visit these places are forced to leave their bicycles where there are no security guards nor designated parking areas where they can securely lock their bicycles.
We see the need to change this situation and therefore, we urge business establishments to provide such needed facilities. The Firefly Brigade can help businesses to help them prove that indeed bycicling is good for business.
2. Australians have seen the wisdom of combining infrastructure for walking and bicycling
We know that the time will come when our worldwide oil reserves will be exhausted and thus, we should be initiating conservation projects to address this eventual worldwide crisis. Towards this end, wise Australians now have started to plan for combining walking and bicycling infrastructure. They have found out that it is possible to improve the livability of urban communities through the reduction of air and noise pollution, especially those that are caused by motorized traffic. This reduction can be achieved in turn by improving the community’s walking and cycling environment. Our own communities here in the Philippines can greatly benefit from this project although as with anything else here, it will take a humongous amount of political will and lots of headache for environmentalists and bicycling advocates.
Given the choice between adopting a healthy lifestyle and continuing to live in a polluted environment, many if not all will choose the former over the latter. The choice is easy but actually living healthier lives can be a challenge even to the most avid advocate of healthy living. Many legislators around the world have already come up with their own versions of international, national, state and local policy that support walking and cycling. We are very much left behind in this regard but we hope to see them in the near future.
3. Singaporeans have provisions for a nationwide bicycling parking facilities and crossings
For our Asian neighbors, “Cycling infrastructure is defined as ‘dedicated cycle tracks, demarcated cycle tracks, widened footpaths for pedestrian/bicycle sharing and separate signalised bicycle crossings’. This is a major part of their “National Cycling Plan”, which also includes strategic steps to develop what they call a “cycling town” and connect major cycling routes in them to major transport nodes. The basic idea is to create a network of links to all of their major destinations that can be reached by bicycles.
If this will come true in the Philippines, then we will be in cycling Nirvana. The problem is that this country will need a miracle to come up with a similar plan, and thus instead, we certainly will be in cycling Gehenna. Of course we are not saying all is lost for us here but as ideal as this nationwide interconnected bicycling facilities can be, we cannot hope for anything more than just one, real, working bike lane that is not being used by business owners as their own private parking lot. Why can’t these car owners not be conscientious and allow bicyclists to use them?
Image from Tripadvisor
4. A Japanese bicyclist conceived of “village welcomes cyclists” which aims to provide accommodations to weary bicyclists travelling all over Japan
We are talking about Japan here but let us recall this one African saying: it takes a village to raise a child. The Japanese took this to heart and applied it to bicyclists touring their country. This is actually modeled after the one started in the USA (see number 5 below) but they went a step further. Instead of one bicyclist welcoming another one to his house, providing board and lodgings to the itinerant bicyclist, it has now grown into a whole village. Bicyclists who took the chance to be part of this effort came to know the country more intimately as they were able to go deeply into little villages not usually covered by organized tours. The founder of “village welcome cyclists” Osamu Naganuma dreams of inspiring “children to travel and see the world with their own ability”… so they can “bring back what they have seen and learnt about the world to the place where they were born and bred.”
Our country is made up of several hundred islands (depending on the tides) and for some, this fact has been the source of our divisiveness as we fail to come to terms with each other culturally, linguistically and even religiously. It would be quite difficult to involve many of our countryfolks to participate in this endeavor but yes, we can dream on.
5. In the USA, you can tour the entire country and not worry about accommodations if you are part of “Warm Showers” a community for Touring Cyclists and Hosts
Many Filipinos dream of making it in the good ‘ol US of A and indeed many have made it beyond their wildest dreams. However, let us bravely say that none (well, maybe one or two) would have thought of touring the entire country on a bicycle. And it wouldn’t be an impossible dream; wild yes, but it can be done and if “Warm Showers” exists it can only be to prove that it is indeed possible. Their website proudly proclaims “the Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink.” Cyclo-Camping International is a similar group based in France. It is a “non-profit association that brings together and informs those traveling by bike without motorized aid. It is run by volunteers and meets all lovers of cycling ... It allows them to learn, meet and share their experiences.”
We are known the world over for being hospitable so this idea shouldn’t be too far off the mark for us to try. The only difficulty would be to set it up and have somebody manage it unselfishly and for the right reasons.
There are plenty of brilliant bicycling ideas elsewhere although not every one of them can be adopted and expected to work here in our country. However, knowing that we could try to reproduce the results they had where they were orginally conceived and implemented can give us the impetus to really accomplish something. We don't need to have unique ideas; only those that can be practiced without need for much money for it to work.
Bicycling is certainly fun and if you want proof, please read Bike, Share the Road, Have Fun, Repeat. You may be wondering What Your Bike Says About You, so wonder no more and go ahead, click the link to read it.