Celebrating the world car free day

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    Workers ride their bikes to work in Makati City. (Rhoy Cobilla)

    THE question is this.

    Why would a motoring section like this one, write about the World Car Free Day (#WCFD) when it depends on cars on the road and cars in the production line for its content.

    The answer is this.

    The world could use less cars and more transportation. The long term effects of fewer cars on the road has been proved by scientific studies to be more positive, with the economic impact and social displacement replacable with job re-engineering and a systemic change of lifestyle.

    Bikers in Nuvali in Sta. Rosa.

    Fewer cars mean less air pollution equals better air quality and respiratory health for all.

    Cycling and walking are recognized as equally important means of transportation and mobility especially at a time when physical distancing is required and scarce public transport options exist. That is what the #SabaySaBike and the World Car Free Day is celebrated every September 22.

    The call of the #SabaySaBike organizers, along with different cycling groups and transport advocacy groups in the Philippines, including Bisikleta Pilipinas Coalition, Move As One Coalition, and the Firefly Brigade was for the public to get on their bicycles to support the working class, who use their bikes to get to work. The COVID-19 pandemic has shined the spotlight on the bicycle as an important means of transportation and the number of bicycle commuters has grown exponentially.

    #SabaySaBike was not a mass gathering. It encouraged participants to leave their vehicles behind and bring a bike or a smaller footprint personal transported like an e-kick scooter. There were simultaneous events all over the Philippines, the biggest was in Iloilo, which by the looks of it has taken over from where Marikina left off as the most friendly city to bikers.

    In Laguna, bike runs in Los Baños, Calamba, Sta. Rosa were planned. The one in San Pablo City commenced early in the morning with nearly 30 socially distanced bikers headed for a meet up in the town of Bay, just 23 kilometers downhill. Another 20 bikers would join them to the city of hot springs another 12 kilometers northeast. The riding pace is a leisurely 10–15 kph ride alongside with daily bike commuters—the farmers, factory workers, construction men, fisherfolk, in an effort to be in unison with them and “help make their trips feel safer by cycling alongside them.”

    Different towns and cities had designated routes to encourage others who are new to cycling to ride along with the route, where they can enter and exit any time like a “bike train.” In Metro Manila, a 190-km route going through all cities was successfully pedaled through. The bike train started near the Bonifacio Shrine in Monumento at 6:00 a.m. and concluding back at the start point at 9:00 p.m.

    “Biking is good for the mental and physical wellbeing of the people, good for work and business, and good for the environment. More Filipinos would love to ride to their bicycles, but many fear for their safety on the roads. They call for protected bike lanes that will keep people on bicycles safe and alive,” says the event organizers said in a press statement.

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