Cycling to work:  Prologue



Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

It seems the traffic congestion in Metro Manila is getting worse.  And with the Christmas season about to start (albeit many malls and stores have already started playing Christmas songs), I think it’s safe to say that it will only get worse in the coming days.

People are at their wit’s end trying to find viable alternatives to getting to work faster, especially for those who use public transportation to commute.

The usual distance from one’s house to the office for those who live in Metro Manila and use public transportation is about 10 – 15 kms.  Some live closer to their place of work if they live in the same city where they work in.  The “new normal” time it takes to get to work using public transportation is 2-3 hours, each way.

A viable alternative for some to consider is to use the trusty bicycle.  Yes, the same bicycle that some consider a toy; some look at it as a cheap means of transportation; or just a method of getting to the nearby sari-sari store to buy some snacks.  The bicycle, previously looked upon as a poor man’s means of transportation, is now used as a viable mode of transportation by a growing number of Filipinos, myself included (I’m trying to ride a bicycle to work once a week).

But before we get into the nuances of riding a bicycle to work, we must start with the basic things we need to consider if riding a bicycle to work is a viable option.

“Infra support” – What does this mean?  It simply means if there’s a viable way to ride or use your bicycle to work.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Distance to work – Is the distance to the workplace feasible? Like I mentioned above, most of the commutes are usually 10-15 kms long.  Shorter if you live in the same city.  With a 15 km route, riding at an average speed of 15 kms, you’ll get to your office within an hour, or even less.  However, if you live in Bulacan and work in Makati (or live in Laguna and have to take the SLEX to get to work in Pasay), then it’s pretty safe to say that cycling to work is not for you.
  2. Route to work – You have to be able to plot a route to take for your bike ride. As a general rule, I don’t take the main roads. I suggest secondary roads.  It’s much safer and the vehicular traffic is slower.  NEVER ride your bicycle along a highway or main artery like EDSA. It’s extremely unsafe.  Plot at least two bike routes you can take to and from work.
  3. Bike paths – Use bike paths as much as possible. Marikina is a very good example of a city with usable bike paths.
  4. Using the trains – If you use a folding bike, you can bring it on the LRT/MRT. Makes it easier.  But if you do this, factor in the fact that you’ll be sweating inside the train (if the aircon of the trains isn’t functioning properly when you’re riding it).

Office facilities

  1. Work hours – Know if it’s feasible and SAFE to ride your bicycle to work. If office hours are from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., then go ahead, ride a bicycle to work.  But if you work in a call center, or similar industry which requires going to and from the office in the dark, then stay away from riding a bicycle to work.
  2. Shower & changing rooms – A definite! Unless you want to be sweaty and smelly the whole day.  You can keep your toiletries in your locker (No. 4 below) and will be even better off than those who use public transportation to work, because you will have literally walked into your office immediately after taking a shower.
  3. Bike parking – This is very important. If you ride your bicycle to work, then you need a safe place to keep your bike.  You can’t keep it outside.  It has to be in a secure place, preferably with a guard.  Usually bicycle parking is in the same parking place as vehicles but situated close to the guard’s station. The best bicycle parking I’ve even seen was in a basement parking of a hotel in Tokyo.  Each bicycle has its own dedicated parking slot with a lock and meter.  It was December when I saw the parking area, but almost all the parking slots were full, which means to say people were still riding their bicycle to work in winter.
  4. Lockers – You need lockers to store your clothes and other belongings. You need to keep at least one set of clothes in your locker, including your toiletries.
  5. Office incentives – In some companies in the US, employees are given incentives to ride their bicycle to work. Some get lunch coupons which they can use in their office cafeteria.  Others get to avail of programs to buy a bicycle (like a car plan, but much cheaper).

Next week we’ll discuss the following topics:

  1. What you need to know before you ride your bicycle to work.
  2. Managing your expectations
  3. Setting goals

If you have any questions, suggestions or tips which I can include in next week’s discussion, please feel free to email me at [email protected], or contact me on Twitter at: .