BY KAREN V. BERMEJO
Prior to its construction, some Ilonggos used to call the Efraim Treñas Boulevard, now Iloilo River Esplanade as the “bike road.”
Iloilo River Esplanade at night. Photo from Iloilo River Esplanade official Facebook page.
I used to rent a bike at the entrance of the boulevard at Benigno Aquino Avenue area for only P25 for two hours.
Two hours may be short to learn the skill, yet the 1.2- kilometer stretch boulevard taught me one major rule in this sport – just bike.
Being able to bike for at least half a kilometer without falling was a simple achievement for a neophyte like me. For each day, I tried to improve. But, my chance of learning to bike vanished when the “bike road” was closed to the public.
But after the place’s major facelift amounting to more than P70 million, no single bike is allowed to enter the place.
I used to enjoy the scenic view of the River Esplanade, especially at night. I even enjoyed walking there aside from attending the Zumba lessons (if my schedule permits).
But only if they have retained the spot for bikers, it would have been better.
Perhaps, it could be best if we could share not only the Esplanade for bikers, but the roads.
Lawyer and Environmentalist Tony Oposa once said that “roads are made for people, not cars.”
Oposa, the proponent of the Road Revolution movement, believes that the ideal road should apportion 30 percent for the mass transit system, 30 percent for sidewalks and another 30 percent for bike lanes. And the remaining space for urban edible garden.
BENEFITS OF BIKING
More bicycle lanes would mean a healthier populace and a cleaner environment.
Nowadays, with the advent of technology, less people do physical work. This is the reason why more people suffer from heart diseases and obesity.
In fact, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) due to unhealthy lifestyle like stroke, diabetes and heart attack remain as top cause of deaths in the country, according to the Department of Health.
But if we could have a safer road for bikers, more people will be encouraged to “burn inexhaustible kinetic energy” (bike).
Cycling actually is a good workout for the heart and lungs, thus, it minimizes the risk of coronary heart diseases.
Biking for a few kilometres also trims and tones muscles, and a better option for those who want to get rid of their extra baggage in their tummy.
And the list goes on.
“More than biking as a form of exercise, it is an environmentally sustainable form of transport,” according to Jerilee Pacho-Cameña, a member of the Iloilo Folding Bike Riders, a group of Ilonggo foldable bike owners and bikers.
While the city continues to develop, Jerilee said non-motorized transport should be adapted in these developments.
So instead of cars congesting the roads, there should be wider walkways and bicycle lanes.
Less cars means less pollution.
FUN IN BIKING
Jerilee also started biking at age of 10.
She recalled how biking made their summer vacation cooler.
Living in a coastal municipality in Antique, “we would bike all over the town center, all the way to the beach and race home when we’re hungry or just before the 6 p.m. curfew,” Jerilee said.
Apart from a dose of endorphin, Jerilee attests to the fulfilment every biker feels upon being outdoors or from surviving the crowded city streets.
But the fun does not stop there. Once you get the confidence riding in the city, you start experimenting routes, alleys, backstreets and discovering neighbourhoods and spots not usually known to many.
“Biking could in fact, make you learn about and appreciate your city more,” she said adding that this exponentially translates to promoting Iloilo as a livable city.
Iloilo Folding Bikers in front of Jaro Belfry during their Bike Hour night ride around Iloilo City on March 20, 2013.
Photo by JAY PASAPORTE
Currently, iFold has two weekly night rides: Tuesday All Folding (TAF) and the Friday Night Ride (FNR) which is open to all types of bikers.
For her part, Jerilee bikes to work as much as she can.
“ I see very few women take on biking as part of their daily routine and most women see it as a hybrid, albeit more expensive, form of weight-loss programs,” she said.
For those who want to learn biking and other cycling skills this summer, a bike clinic will be conducted by the cycling group Firefly Brigade in partnership with the group Dakila-Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism and iFold on April 19 at the Central Philippine University.
The bike clinic is one of the sidelights for the launch of the Project Freedom Campaign of Dakila to end Human Trafficking in the Philippines on April 20 at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Grounds.
Freedom Ride, expected to gather more than 200 bikers from Iloilo, Capiz and other parts of the country will start at 6 a.m. Ride out is 7 a.m.
The event’s registration is free so all bikers are encouraged to join.*