While many of our cities have begun to show interest in creating bikeways for cyclists, the implementation remains lacking. Bikeways are disjointed, unconnected, inconsistent, and often serve as motorcycle express lanes or car parking when enforcement falls short.
In some areas, bike lanes seem like an afterthought more than an actual attempt to encourage cycling as safe and sustainable transport. The most common symptom are narrow bike lanes that barely fit cyclists or don’t fit at all. Even worse, some bike lanes are drawn on existing car lanes without adjusting road markings to provide enough space for both car and bikes—making it dangerous for both cyclists and motorists as they try to fit in a space that cannot accommodate both.
Here, we present two suggestions that could provide a practical remedy for such cases:
1. Use the remaining space to buffer bike lanes
Buffered bike lanes provide more distance between cars and bicycles by demarcating an area of separation. Buffer areas are usually marked by two solid white lines, preferably with diagonal hatching in between.
In the case of wider roads, the rightmost lane can just be completely given to bicycles by marking a bike lane and using the remaining space to create a buffer zone. Ideally, there could also be a buffer zone between the sidewalk and the bike lane in case pedestrians have to step onto the bike lane (like when sidewalks are used for parking by inconsiderate drivers). The buffer can also be used by faster cyclists to safely pass others on the road.
Buffered bike lanes are a good way to show commitment to improving bike infrastructure, but have also been shown to encourage more cyclists to use the lanes.
2. Use Shared Lane Markings
Shared lane markings (SLMs) or Sharrows are road markings that indicate lanes for use by both motorized vehicles and bicycles. Rather than forcing a bike lane in an area where car and bike can’t possibly fit together, shared lane markings simply indicate the reality that both have to share the use of the lane.
While they are not as ideal as dedicated bike lanes in terms of safety, SLMs reinforce the idea that bikes have equal rights to the road and serves to remind motorists to watch out for cyclists.
SLMs also serve to give cyclists more confidence in taking the lane rather than awkwardly positioning themselves too far to the right and too close to the gutter.
While we all dream of safe, integrated, and protected bikeways, our current circumstances make them seem so far off in the horizon. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t practical solutions that can easily be implemented without considerable effort.
Buffers can be painted on existing lanes that are too small for a car to fit with the bike lane anyway, and where space is more limited, sharrows are a good way to encourage cyclists to take the lane and ride away from the gutter while reminding motorists that bikes have equal rights to the road.
When we talk about making bike commuting more accessible and feasible to Filipinos we usually fixate on building bike lanes. But truly integrated, useful, protected, and safe bikeways are still quite a long way off given the pace at which we are currently accommodating bicycles.
Instead, we thought of simple, discrete, but very doable improvements that would improve the lives of current bike commuters, and maybe even entice others to join our bike revolution. Here are three such improvements:
Bi-modal transport systems
A very real obstacle for people deciding on whether or not bike commuting might be feasible to them is the distance that they have to travel between home and work. It is not uncommon to hear people say that they would love to bike commute if only the distances weren’t as big. Bi-modal bike commuting can be a very real solution to this problem and some are already doing it. Folding bikes are welcome on our train systems, and even regular bikes are allowed onboard some P2P buses.
But accessibility to these systems is largely limited and it would make a huge difference if more buses, or even jeeps had built-in racks to accommodate bikes. As an example, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) proudly advertises that all of its buses (over 2,000 units) have bike racks located on the front of the bus. Taking your bike on a CTA incurs no extra cost too.
In Japan, you can take a bicycle aboard any train (including their bullet trains) at no extra cost for as long as you take the front wheel off and put the bike in a proper bag.
Secure and sensible bike parking
A favorite Filipino cycling expression is: ‘walang pangit na bike.’ But in its most cynical interpretation it also means that no bike is safe from being stolen. Sadly, many of our commercial establishments remain aloof if not overtly against bicycles.
And the ones that do welcome bikes usually do so without proper facilities for safe parking; or when they do have parking, the racks are obviously designed by people who have no bike knowledge.
The fact is that it is sensible for businesses to accommodate bikes, and it isn’t that hard to produce sensible bike racks. For starters, bike racks should allow the use of different types of locks including the standard U-lock (or D-lock). Bike racks should also accommodate different wheel sizes and tire widths.
And none of these are not very hard features to include, nor do they add to the cost of production. Bike parking should also be in well-lit, protected areas instead of dark and remote corners that encourage theft.
Bike lockers, which allow an entire bike to fit inside and only requires a proper padlock to secure are also a great option as they prevent bikes from being damaged, and it allows cyclists to do away with heavier U-locks or chains.
Finally, there is the issue of bike commuting being too stinky for the workplace which is arguably silly because going through Manila traffic by public transport is enough to make anyone marginally sweaty and dusty.
A practical solution is to shower at work and more workplaces should consider providing such facilities to employees who bike to work. Showering at work will mean less travel time, less traffic, and bike commuters will be fresher than anyone who showered at home.
While we all dream of integrated, continuous, and protected bikeways; there are plenty of improvements that are readily implementable and would vastly improve the lives of those who are already bike commuting, and might even encourage more of those who have practical concerns regarding distance, safety, and smell.
Did we miss anything? What are simple improvements to our city that you think could make bike commuting easier? What practical changes can we implement to convince you to ride your bike more?
Sometimes a fresh interpretation of an old idea catches your attention and makes you feel like it’s novel and unique. The Compact Utility Bicycle (CUB) made this immediate impression on me once I got my hands on it.
This Filipinized version of the cargo bike is a breath of fresh air in many ways. First of all, unlike its western counterparts, it is much more narrow and easy to handle for people with Asian body frames. This is one of the main reasons why its creator, Alex Silva, decided to make his own version of a cargo bike.
The CUB was initially designed to carry bakery supplies but eventually transformed to meet the needs of daily errands. Instead of creating the usual tricycle, he got used parts from old bikes to create a cargo bike that would fit existing facilities in Asian environments, specifically in Tokyo, Japan where Silva is based.
Handling the CUB
As someone who primarily rides a road bike, I couldn’t help but wonder how the CUB’s weight would fare on short climbs along my usual commute routes. I was lucky enough to receive the bike at Julia Vargas St. in Ortigas Center, which meant riding through EDSA, White Plains, Bonny Serrano Ave., 20th Ave, and Anonas St. all the way to Katipunan Ave.
My route had a total elevation change of 173 meters and while it wasn’t necessarily the kind that would be difficult for weekend riders, it could definitely be challenging for bike commuters let alone those who actually need to bring heavy cargo around. Nevertheless, the 1×7 Tourney groupset installed on the CUB made the experience enjoyable and I can imagine myself going to the grocery and running errands with the CUB on a regular basis. It will certainly change the way I deal with errands that I have to do within a radius of around 5–10 kilometers. Imagine actually wanting to get up from bed early in the morning to rake in some kilometers and check a few errands off your to-do list!
While there is a bit of adjustment required to get used to it, the CUB is surprisingly nimble and easy to handle. Its cargo box, which could also be used as a passenger seat for toddlers, makes for a stable base that maintains the bike’s center of gravity. The distance of the handlebars from the fork makes handling quite unusual at first but the weight of the cargo box helps keep the bike from wobbling around, especially when resuming from a red traffic light. Silva also added hydraulic suspension to the steerer tube to dampen the force of small movements and improve stability.
Braking wasn’t a problem either as the CUB was conveniently built with mechanical disc brakes. It helped to know that the brakes could handle the weight of the cargo I was carrying. My initial worry was that the added weight would prevent me from breaking momentum whenever I had to slow down at corners and intersections. The disc brakes also serve a more crucial purpose during the rainy season when having reliable braking power could mean the difference between losing and keeping your precious cargo.
Empowering the local community
While Silva hopes to introduce the idea of household cargo bikes in the Philippines, fabricating and selling them at scale to make a living isn’t necessarily his goal. His vision for the CUB is to empower small workshops and fabricators to use it as a basic template for customization and personalization.
“The idea is for all interested builders to see how to build it. What’s exciting about it is the innovation that will happen when people start to build from the plan. What will happen is they’ll see the plan, they’ll have their own needs and there’ll be these materials that are only available to them,” says Silva.
He added that small workshops could foster long-term relationships with cyclists by building and maintaining their CUBs, therefore adding to local economic activity.
Riding around on the CUB was a different experience not only because of its unique size and shape, but also because a lot of folks took notice. I lost count of the people along the way—pedestrians and drivers—who reacted in amusement as I rode past them. It was nice to hear positive reactions from them: “Uy ayos ah,” and “Saan nakakabili niyan?” were some of the best I heard. It only shows that there’s potential interest from Filipinos who are tired of spending time and money getting stuck in traffic.
Silva has also spent time joining cargo bike festivals abroad to exhibit his work and see how others would react to the changes he’s made. He takes pride in showing people that a cargo bike inspired by Western counterparts has evolved to meet the needs of the Asian community. He continues to attend events to take inspiration from other builders and see how the cargo bike is continuously evolving around the world.
For Silva, he is only getting started and he hopes more people will join him in his adventure. I, for one, now consider myself a supporter, and I hope my next bike will be a version of the CUB.
Here is the long answer: In 1968, the United Nations Economic and Social Council held a conference in Vienna to update international standards for road traffic rules. The resulting treaty was the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic which requires all signatory countries to comply with the set standards.
The Philippines was among the nations that signed the treaty in 1968, its provisions were made part of the laws of the land by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 207 in 1973, and it came into force in 1977.
Under Article 3 of the Vienna road traffic treaty, contracting parties are required to accommodate bicycles on the road:
“5. Contracting Parties shall be bound to admit to their territories in international traffic cycles and mopeds which fulfil the technical conditions laid down in Chapter V of this Convention and whose drivers have their normal residence in the territory of another Contracting Party. No Contracting Party shall require the drivers of cycles or mopeds in international traffic to hold a driving permit;”
Interestingly, bicycles are required to have brakes, a bell, a red reflector, white or yellow lights to the front, and red to the back (this explains why many built bikes, race bikes included, come with reflectors!).
As a contracting party, the Philippines is obligated to give bicycles equal and safe access to the road. Which means when cyclists say ‘Share the road,’ we are not asking; but rather reminding other road users of our right to the road.
If you search #batanes on Instagram, your feed will be filled with photos of rolling hills, cliffs, lighthouses, stone houses, views of the ocean, rocky beaches, and people posing with these scenic landscapes. Last weekend, I had the opportunity of visiting Batanes with my family, particularly the Batan and Sabtang Islands, and I can attest to its picturesque beauty that no photo will ever do complete justice. However, more than just the breathtaking views that any Instagram influencer would die for, what caught my attention wereits bicycles and more notably, how much cycling is a part ofthe everyday lives of the Ivatans.
We stayed in Batanes for four days and of those four days, I was able to rent and ride a bike for three days. There is no shortage of bike rental shops in Basco, the city center of Batan Island. I was able to rent a bike from a different place every day I rode, although one place I rented from didn’t have helmets available for rent. I got to ride a utility bike, a Japanese bike, and a mountain bike and I paid 25.00 – 30.00 pesos per hour I rented each bike.
Rentals aside, I saw that there were bicycles everywhere: parked outside residences, sari-sari stores, restaurants, churches, and by the pier. While looking for a bike rental shop on my first day, I passed by the police station to ask for directions and noticed that just outside the station, there was a rack full of Giant mountain bikes in good condition.
Starting them young
What I found particularly remarkable about bicycle culture in Batanes was how it seemed to be instilled from such a young age. It was a pleasant surprise for me to see children below five feet in height riding bicycles, many of them without training wheels. I also ran into some kids on their bikes buying iced pops as an afternoon snack from a sari-sari store.
Beyond the home and their immediate social circles, I saw how cycling was supported by schools. At least twice, I passed by schools that had dedicated bicycle parking for their students. Once, I biked around Basco in the mid-afternoon and I passed by a school during dismissal time. I saw students chatting with their friends, getting on their bikes, and riding home.
More than the abundance of bicycles and Ivatans riding bikes, it was apparent to me that external factors such as geography, culture, and policy also contributed to making Batanes friendly to those on two wheels. Since each inhabited island is relatively small, both in geographic area and in population, distances between home, school, and other establishments are not that far apart within municipalities, making biking between these places relatively easy.
Ivatan culture itself fosters an environment friendly to cycling: the Ivatans greatly value honesty and respect. Locals simply park their bikes at the designated parking lots or outside establishments with no locks, and with no fear of them being stolen. Batanes also has the lowest crime rate in the country, making the streets safe to walk and bike around, even for children.
In Batanes, cycling isn’t the dangerous, risky activity that it’s made to be in other parts of the country, particularly Metro Manila. To the Ivatans, cycling is simply a part of everyday life: an affordable, sustainable, and healthy way of getting around.
Climbing or riding uphill is a very important cycling skill whether you’re in a race, commuting, or just casually enjoying a weekend ride. You can also think of climbing as a talent that some of us were born with. These riders are naturally lightweight and have the right body type that allows them to climb almost effortlessly. But what about some of us who are not as gifted as Alberto Contador, Egan Bernal, or any of your cycling buddies who can climb exceptionally? Well, here are some tips that could help you reach new heights when climbing on a bike, especially if you are not a climber like me.
1. Be Efficient
The first and most vital component of climbing is efficiency – it is all about striking the right balance between power, speed, endurance, and perhaps grit. To do this, you need to find your perfect pace which depends on your cycling skill or fitness level. You don’t want to expend too much energy and prematurely run out of steam while still on the way to the peak of a hill. Here’s a useful tip to avoid running out of fuel on a climb: rest and allow yourself to recover on the easier sections, flats, and downhill segments of a climb by pedaling with less effort, regulating your breathing, and rehydrating.
Perfect pacing can also be achieved by choosing the right gearing, being familiar your sweet spot in terms of rpm or cadence, and knowing when to ride in or out of the saddle. Usually, it’s best to choose lighter gears when climbing especially if your goal is just to survive the climb. As much as possible, you would want to preserve your climbing muscles (mostly slow-twitch muscle fibers) so that you can climb longer. Although at times, you also need to rest these muscles by riding out of the saddle to stretch a bit or when you’re about to climb a steep section on a climb. Generally, avoid sprinting uphill unless you’re in a race or attempting a Strava KOM.
Pacing could also mean not giving in to peer pressure, especially if you’re riding uphill with a natural climber. There is (usually) no shame in getting dropped on a climb especially when the overall goal is just to get to the top safe and sound, alive and still spinning. Just remember, go at your pace, and as long as you’re moving, you’ll eventually get there.
2. Know Your Route
Being efficient is also anchored on how well you know your route. Being familiar with your bike route means knowing the distance, elevation gain, gradient, and road quality. This could help you plan your pace, comfort breaks, and perhaps the whole duration of the ride (i.e., moving time) especially if it’s your first time riding the route. One way to familiarize yourself with the route that you haven’t ridden before is plotting it on services like Google Maps, bikemap, or Strava.
A more effective way to better know your route is to ride it often. By doing this, you passively memorize the roads, landmarks, the overall profile of the route (i.e., which parts are steep or flat), and even the smallest details such as potholes and signs that you possibly never noticed before. Being extra familiar with the route helps you pace more effectively and lets you feel more comfortable when it comes to safety and security as well. If you’re a bit competitive, practicing on your routes allows you to identify when and where you should “attack,” ride in or out of the saddle, or when you should just spin-to-win.
More than practicing your routes, you should also practice riding uphill in general. This is where your training comes into play. Your main goal should be to make your weakness your strength. To become a better climber, you need to put in the effort to improve two fundamental things – climbing muscles and self-efficacy or your confidence in your cycling skills.
Conditioning your climbing muscles can be quite difficult. You don’t develop strong quads, hamstrings, and calves overnight. However, developing your leg muscles is also straightforward. All you have to do is keep using them by climbing more or engage in leg workouts such as lunges and squats. You can also enroll in indoor cycling or spinning classes in studios and gyms to keep your legs active. By engaging in active workouts, you also get to train and improve the other parts of your body that you need for climbing such as your back, core, heart, and lungs (i.e., aerobic capacity).
Building your confidence can also be done through practice. Pro tip: use a heart rate monitor, Strava, or other GPS ride trackers and fitness apps such as Fitbit to monitor the amount of effort you put in to climb particular distances and elevation gain. By doing this, you become more aware of your fitness level, climbing abilities, and your growth as a cyclist.
4. Lose Excess Weight
Climbing is largely about the power to weight ratio. Simply put: you are basically riding against gravity on climbs and the heavier you are, the more effort is required to carry the weight. This is basically why lighter bike components are considered climbing-specific and also why weight weenies exist. But even if you don’t have the financial capacity to purchase ultralight carbon fiber or titanium components, there are still ways to reduce your overall weight on the bike. Some of the things you can get rid of are: extra bike bags,, mudguards, or maybe that second water bottle and bottle cage.
You might also want to get rid of excess body weight. Unlike replacing bike components with lighter alternatives, reducing body weight through exercise and proper diet is free! By doing this, you do not only become faster and more efficient on the climbs, but you would also enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Safety reminder: this doesn’t mean starving yourself, or completely laying off carbs. In fact, you should be more careful with your eating habits and the way you choose your nutrition (i.e., good carbs vs bad carbs, varied protein sources, etc.). If you engage in active workouts without sufficient fuel from healthy foods, you could end up damaging your muscles which could have grave long-term consequences.
Having fun on the climbs can sound like pure nonsense especially for some of us non-climbers. However, there are still ways to enjoy and appreciate climbing mountains on your trusty bike. For example, make sure you are comfortable on the saddle by checking your bike fit. Another way to enjoy climbing is by keeping yourself fueled by consuming energy gels, bars, or snacks. You could also explore food stores or tindahan along the way to help maintain energy until your reach your destination.
Your destination and route choices could also help you enjoy the climb. For starters, choose the routes that lead you to destinations with beautiful sceneries at the top and let that serve as your reward for putting in the effort on the climb. If you have no idea where to go, you can start with our favorite cycling destinations in Rizal.
Inviting friends to ride with you on the climb could also make your ride more enjoyable, especially if these friends ride at your pace. Having somebody to talk to and suffer with can distract you from the actual suffering especially if you’re deeply engaged in kwentuhan with your buddies. However, you need to be more cautious with your breathing since talking could affect the way you breathe. Remember that your breathing pattern plays a crucial role in pacing, especially on a climb. At times, it could be better to just stay quiet, regulate breathing, and focus on your cadence.
Finally, appreciate your effort by tracking your cycling stats (i.e., elevation gain, moving time) and celebrating your achievements by taking a selfie with your bike, doing a celebratory dance, eating your snacks while cherishing the view, or simply, by just giving yourself a pat on the back. Nothing is more enjoyable than knowing that you’ve achieved something awesome through pure effort and determination. You might not feel it, but appreciating and celebrating yourself empowers and encourages you to strive to become a better cyclist whether you’re on a climb, in a race, a weekend ride, or commuting.
It’s never been more obvious—cars are the most affordable, accessible, and sustainable mode of transport that can solve our traffic congestion problem within the next 25 to 75 years. Here at Motoring Matters More, we hope to bring you the latest updates on the most important matters: from the latest new All-New Vios to the flying car of the future. Help us move for progress in transport and celebrate the most important invention that humanity has ever produced.
We decided to spend the long weekend on our bikes, traveling from Quezon City to Tagaytay and back. Watch and see what Metro Manila looks like without traffic, and find out if you can try this out with your friends during one of the long weekends in 2019.
Nagpasya kaming pumadyak mula Quezon City hanggang Tagaytay noong long weekend. Panoorin para makita ang itsura ng Metro Manila kapag walang traffic, at alamin kung kaya niyo rin itong gawin kasama ang inyong mga katropa sa isa sa mga long weekend ngayong 2019.
It’s common knowledge among cyclists that the correct number of bikes to own is approximately n+1. We found an artist who has decided to do exactly that without spending huge sums of money.
Jaewoo You, a 28 year old graphic designer and illustrator based in South Korea, has posted dozens of his own bicycle illustrations on Instagram in the past two days. He draws them in a comic style that has left his followers waiting for his next posts. “I just wanted to buy an expensive bicycle but, when I was a student, I didn’t have money,” You told us about what inspired him to start the archive.
You has been an illustrator since 2014, but previously worked in bicycle shops in Seoul such as Giant and Rapha. He currently works as a graphic designer for a local cycling magazine. He added that the Bicycle Illustration Archive only started as a hobby but some people have already contacted him to have their own bikes turned into illustrations.
When asked about his favorite bikes in the collection, he shared that the Cannondale Supersix Evo road bike in the green and orange colorway was closest to his heart because it’s one of his current bicycles. Aside from this, he also has a fixed gear bicycle that he has had since he started cycling six years ago.
Currently, he is working on the UCI World Tour team bikes and plans to illustrate all of the bikes every year. “I just want people to enjoy this project. I make UCI World Tour team bike posters every year in Korea. This year, I will try to sell them overseas,” You said.
You can follow the Bicycle Illustration Archive on Instagram (@bicycle_illustration_archive) as well as Jaewoo You’s personal account (@ahot_jay) to see more of his works. If you’re lucky enough, you might just see your own bike in the collection!