by Chang Casal, a freelance writer who cycles to work in an attempt to save money and help reduce traffic.
On one of the worst days of Metro Manila traffic, a friend of mine Tweeted something that really stuck with me. She said, “Don’t forget: You aren’t just stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic.” For days, I couldn’t rest easy knowing that every time I drove my car to work I was contributing to the traffic. I realized that all the complaining and ranting I was doing about the horrible traffic wasn’t going to make any significant changes. And if I wanted to see change, it was up to me to be the change.
But as a regular, working class citizen, what could I do to help improve the traffic? The answer ended up being really simple – I bought a bike. I figured, if I could bike to work every day, I was at least taking one more car off the road. Now, imagine what EDSA and C5 would look like if more people rode their bikes to work.
Today, I bike almost every day to work and it’s made me realize that beyond reducing traffic, I was actually getting a lot more benefits than I anticipated.
Admittedly, my bike ride to work is pretty simple. I live in Paranaque and work in Las Pinas, so I don’t have to pass through major roads like EDSA and C5. But this doesn’t mean that my ride is easy. On the contrary, I cover a good 26 kilometers each day, with each trip clocking in at around a little over an hour. As someone who didn’t really exercise, I never thought I’d be strong enough to cycle 26 kilometers every day, and the first time I took on the full journey I was dead tired. But today, getting to the office on my bike actually makes me feel a lot more energized than when I opt to take my car. That’s because…
There’s a scientific reason why people get addicted to working out. Whenever you exercise, your body releases endorphins or feel-good chemicals to reduce your perception of pain. That’s why runners talk about a certain “runner’s high” they get after they work out. Every time I cycle to work, I find myself less anxious about my deadlines and responsibilities and more pumped to start working.
In fact, studies show that exercising everyday can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Truth be told, my favorite thing about cycling to work is how much money I’m able to save. I used to spend 200 pesos every day just for fuel. Today, I spend at most 200 pesos every week.
I love cycling because bicycles are unbelievably low maintenance, and require very little equipment. If you buy a single speed or fixed gear bike like I did, maintenance cost gets even lower, as fixies have less parts to be maintained.
Rush hour traffic is the bane of every Manileño’s existence. Being stuck in a car for 3-4 hours is enough to drive you crazy, which is why cycling to work is such a treat. When all the cars are gridlocked, you can just weave through the traffic and bypass all the angry passengers. You can also choose to ride through alleys and alternate routes, and even pass through villages that don’t usually allow cars without stickers to enter. Sometimes, you almost feel like you’re cheating.
Like I mentioned earlier, the biggest reason I decided to buy a bike was because I wanted to help reduce traffic, especially during rush hour. Each and every one of us contributes to the traffic situation when we choose what mode of transportation to use, and it seemed like such a waste of space to drive to work alone when I’m fully capable of cycling.
Though our roads aren’t the most pedestrian and cyclist-friendly roads, having more people interested in cycling and walking could prompt our government to do better at planning our cities, making roads more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.
Despite the pollution and a few reckless drivers here and there, I love cycling to work. But of course, I know that cycling isn’t for everyone, especially those who live 2-3 hours away from their workplace. However, I think if at least the people who lived closer to their offices could bike instead of drive to work, we’d still see a significant change in the way our roads flow.
If you’re ready to ride and pick out a bike that’s just right for you, check out OLX.ph for brand new and second-hand bicycles.