Human power

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Sunday, June 22, 2014


A HEARING on the Tindak Sugbo Lanes Ordinance will be held on June 25 for a discussion of the proposal for the city government to put up bike lanes and bike-friendly zones in the city. This is about the appeal for a shared priority bike route as a simple but meaningful contribution to help check climate change, the bike being an earth-friendly, human-power transport.

Sen. Pia Cayetano has also filed a bill in the Senate for government to build bicycle lanes and put up bike racks and parking areas, as being done in Marikina and Davao cities. The Sustainable Transportation Act of 2011 will be pushed by more people convinced of the bike’s use in a community.

Years ago, cyclists weren’t exactly told how biking could lead to healthy living, neither was there full knowledge in the communities on how carbon dioxide emission from the use of gas in vehicles could mess up the world in a creepy climate change.

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No, I didn’t go into biking for health and preservation of climate back then but to have fun and be with friends and cousins in summer—especially the guys, when they’d try anything from flying kites to climbing trees.

The bike was part of the fun because there was a relative who had a store selling the vehicle. But what kept me from learning how to bike was the fear of its two wheels. I knew that for the two wheels, I’d need balancing to hit the ground safely.

When I would drive in an uncle’s backyard, I’d shout, “Stop na ko!” Then the boy cousins would run after me to help keep my balance quickly after I stepped on the brake!

It has been easier for me to drive a car later in life than balance a bike. In today’s lingo, I would be seen like I preferred to fill the air with carbon using a firm 4-wheeled machine than move about balancing badly in a clean two-wheeled vehicle called a bike.

A bike is a vehicle which is “propelled solely by human power.” And it gives man a chance to keep physically fit through the years of biking, so says Roger Vallena, one of the founding members of a biking group in Cebu, the Tindak Bisdak Cebu Folding Bike Society led by Jay Garganera in 2010, together with Dindo Sugatan and Alan Defensor.

Vallena, a passionate Tindak member, had turned into a biker when he looked for a way to steer clear of depression after he lost a son. It has been like having been healed of the pain.

Traveling on a bike every day, Vallena covers 10 kilometers from Sun.Star Cebu to home in Bacayan, Talamban. On a PUJ transpo, it would take about an hour's drive due to slumbering, heavy traffic. A ride in a bike would take not more than 30 minutes. If the traffic is clear and fast, the ride is only from 15 to 20 minutes.

As for his health, Vallena is experiencing a certain fullness as a human being, having low cholesterol, normal blood sugar, getting the correct number of pounds. This is, perhaps, besides Vallena and his co-bikers slimming down.

There are five bike clubs with Tindak Sugbo, which was formed in 2013, going around the city every Friday. The group consists of volunteers from the University of the Philippines, psychology students and faculty, among others.

Much of the world today is biking for a change in lifestyle to save the earth from devastation. It’s good to know that among the top 10 countries biking for good reasons are mostly those in the past emitting much of greenhouse gases in the Western economies. Take Germany where there are 75 percent cyclists of more than 81 million people.

The biggest user is the Netherlands, 99 percent of the people being cyclists, 25 percent of trips are to work places.

In my age right now, I don’t think I can safely ride a bike. But I wish I had today’s knowledge of what humans can do to improve life in the globe using my cousins’ early sports style. (ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 22, 2014.

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