People tend to have very different ideas about commuting by bike and in almost all cases, the most polarized views are the most erroneous. Many people have the silly notion that bike commuting is not feasible in Metro Manila; because of bad motorist behavior, the lack of supporting infrastructure, and the climate. But there are also those who do not take the decision to become a bike commuter seriously enough and end up frustrated or worse.
The more reasonable and pragmatic perspective is to consider bike commuting as a choice that requires some investment and proper preparation. Here are some ideas to think about if you’re considering becoming a bike commuter.
- Bike commuting is a responsibility. Just like other road users, cyclists are expected to behave with public safety in mind. This means riding a roadworthy bike and following traffic rules, as well as acting as ambassadors for the bicycle.
- The initial costs will be considerable. One of the more common mistakes made by new cyclists is skimping to the point of buying bad products. Budget bikes, kit, and gear can be had for reasonable prices but a fair amount of research has to be done before purchasing anything. A sturdy, appropriate, and serviceable bike is non-negotiable; as well as protective and safety equipment, roadside repair and maintenance items, and a few other things that should make commutes sustainable
- Everyone is required to train. Another common mistake is thinking that endurance training and bike handling skills can be learned along the way because a tired cyclist is a dangerous cyclist, and an unskilled one is ever more so. It is advisable to set a training program for developing endurance and getting comfortable on the bike first before riding out on busy streets.
- Preparation is key. While riding a bike may seem relatively easy, walking a bike with a punctured tire or getting lost on the way to work are the unexpected issues that can make a simple bike commute turn into a nightmare. Crashes can also occur during five-minute rides within 300 meters from your home and it is here when helmets make the difference between life and death. It is, therefore, crucial to learn how to make simple fixes to the bike, plan routes ahead of time (and maybe even practice them on a Sunday when traffic is light), and wear a helmet because you never know what could happen.
- Our cities are bikeable. With serious consideration, proper preparation and training, bike commuting should be simple, easy, and fun. Bike commuters are out there everyday and have been riding on our streets for decades.
If you have considered all of the above-mentioned items and still feel up to the challenge of commuting by bike then you are off to good start. It is important to remember that shortcuts can only lead to unsafe and unsustainable bike commuting; but with proper preparation and thought, bike commuting can be one of the most rewarding decisions one can make.
This is the first article in our five-part series on Becoming a Bike Commuter. Watch out for the succeeding articles coming soon:
Watch out for the succeeding articles coming soon:
Part 5: Basic knowledge and best practices