Biking is a wonderful hobby that is hailed by many as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and keep your body fit at the same time. I love biking, even though here in the Philippines, I never bike along national roads because of the unfortunate hazards and struggles that accompany the activity.
However, many biking events that aim to promote this delightful hobby make the huge mistake of holding it within highly urbanized and heavy traffic-prone areas. Take for example the recently-concluded CalamBikeFest 2016, a segment of which was witnessed by my mom and I last Saturday on our way to the Makiling Botanic Gardens in UPLB. We were going to attend a tree walk with the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, and we decided to take public transportation instead of driving there.
We live in General Trias City, Cavite, and during one leg of the trip, the jeepney ride from Calamba to UP College, we were stuck for several minutes in one spot, longer than what we hoped (we anticipated traffic, but not that heavy!). We later discovered that it was due to all the bicycles passing through the intersection, which the traffic police blocked for the safety of the bikers.
One of the passengers in the jeep audibly complained, “Pahamak itong mga bikers na ‘to” (These bikers are such a nuisance). Which made me feel sad, because biking is such an awesome hobby that everyone should take up if they have even a little time and resource for it.
The event caused a massive buildup of vehicles in the area around SM City Calamba, which has always been prone to heavy traffic in the first place. If you calculate the amount of man-hours wasted and carbon emissions produced due to the traffic jam, whatever benefit the event gave had been outweighed by the damages it caused.
I advocate biking 100%, but large bike events, or any other big occasions for that matter, need to be planned carefully and organized in such a way that other people not involved will not suffer from its consequences. Maybe they should study the traffic flow, and identify the day of the week and time of day when their event would have the least impact. Or hold it in a less busy part of the city.
Otherwise, not only are its objectives of being eco-friendly or promoting heroism (in the case of CalamBikeFest) defeated, they also provoke the ire of the people in the community.