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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Tips on Biking to Work

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A few months ago, I received an email from one of the readers of this blog asking about biking to work. She works in Makati and lives in Taguig. She's thinking of bike commuting and would like to know if it's safe and if I could give her some tips.

Below is (more or less) my reply to her that I'd like to share with you:

To be honest with you, I rarely bike to work now, but I wish I can do it more often. :)

To answer your question on whether it's safe, I would say yes if you're used to biking on Metro Manila streets and know how to "read" the behavior of the vehicles on the road. If you haven't tried it, maybe you can do a dry run and ride to work on Sunday with the stuff that you're planning to bring.

Here are some tips based from my learnings:

1. Bring a beater bike, if you have one. As much as possible, you want to avoid your bike being noticed by thieves. Less flashy. Try to blend in.

2. Use proper hand gestures when you're on the road. Let the other vehicles know where you're going.

3. Smile and say thank you to the drivers when they allow you pass. I know we have the right of way, but that's not how they see it.

4. Bring a good bike lock and make sure you lock your bike properly. If you can park it near the guard and make friends with him. If you have a quick release seat collar, bring the seat with you.

5. Be visible. Aside from blinkers and headlights, buy reflectorized stickers and stick them on your bike, shoes and helmet. I bought about two meters of white reflectorized stickers from an auto shop and cut these to the correct sizes.

6. Bring tools, pump, patch kit, extra money, cellphone. For the tools, know how to use them. YouTube is a wealth of knowledge for how-to stuff.

7. Wear a helmet, gloves and protective eyewear. Always.

8. Have a bag cover or a trash bag that you can use to wrap your bag in case it rains.

9. Hope your office has a shower area. If not, bring lots of baby wipes.

10. Bring an ID so that people would know who you are in case of an accident. I wear a Road ID now, thanks to my aunt from the States. You can get a Life Band here in the Philippines from these guys.

11. When biking on the streets, don't be all over the road. In short, huwag kang malikot! Also, look and be aware of your surroundings before you change lanes, make turns or even stop.

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Do you have other bike commuting tips that you'd like to share? Post them in the comments section! :)

8 comments:

  1. Greet other bikers on the road and as much as possible ride with them and don't over take them or create a peloton together with them so that it would be more safer and enjoyable bike to work experience. I bike to work everyday from Rizal to Ortigas and I am happy to ride with manong construction workers on their standard bikes. They have a good cadence and strong legs by the way.

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    1. Yes, they are strong! Iwan ako sa pace nila! Hehehehehehe!

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  2. Hey guys I'm an archery coach working in green hills but I live in taguig. I pretty much have everything covered and I know I can make the distance. My question is. Can anyone recommend a good route to take from McKinley hill to green hills? I mean a bike friendly route. Thanks in advance and hit me up if your interested in archery.

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    1. Hi Guilio. So sorry for the late reply. My tip is to try to avoid the main highways and look for smaller roads. If that were me, I'd go to Fort > JP Rizal > Right to the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in Rockwell > Barangka Drive > Nueve de Pebrero around the Mental Hospital > right at Torres > right at Araullo > left at Mabini. Ayun! Greenhills na!

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  3. Hello! I'm planning to try bike commute from paranaque to makati area. Traffic is a bitch so I'm giving biking a shot. Any recommended routes? Bike friendly and less car traffic stress

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    1. Anonymous11:21 PM

      Yeah so am I. Planning to bike from Better Living to Gil Puyat. I dunno if it's possible and if there's any bike friendly routes.

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    2. Hi guys! I'm not familiar with the secondary roads in that area so I cannot give a specific route that you can take. :(

      I'd go a research Google Maps to see if there are relatively safer routes and then try riding it on a Sunday.

      Good luck!

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  4. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Hi, Very nice blog by the way.

    Im currently working in Ortigas somewhere in Meralco Avenue area.. and I've been biking to work everyday of the week except weekends so I think I can share some few tips so here it is:

    1. First off, always have a good night sleep the night before the day you bike to work. You wouldn't like to have shaking knees while pedaling in the morning just because you slept late last night.

    2.Bring lots of water to re-hydrate while on the road specially during the summer heat.

    3.Don't forget to wear some protective and breathable gears like dry fit shirts with long sleeves to protect your skin from the sun and wear comfortable pants (riding while wearing your office jeans is not advisable)

    4.Always wear a HELMET.. no helmet no ride.

    5.Wear biking gloves if possible.. biking long distance sometimes results to sweaty hands and sweaty hands results to sweaty bike handle grips.

    6. Eat a good breakfast before starting your bike to work day.

    7. Always bring bike tools and patching kit. You'll never know when you will need them BUT YOU WILL DEFINITELY some point in time. And another thing, Bring MULTIPLE GOOD BIKE LOCKS for bike parking time at the office.

    8.Be aware of your surrounding traffic when biking. In my case I always avoid going side by side any large trucks, be it delivery or large 14 wheeler or 18 wheeler. Trust me, you will encounter many OPTIMUS PRIME trucks along the way as you ride. Just let them past first or avoid being near them as much as possible.

    9. Greet other bikers along the way. Alot of other bikers you will encounter and have a chance to go knee to knee with are "mga kuyang construction workers" and trust me you can't win against them when it comes to racing. They are what we say in tagalog as "Batak na batak" (This one is my favorite.)

    10. Lastly is always PRAY before you ride. Gawin mong GPS si Lord sa pag babike mo at siguradong makakrating ka ng ligtas sa paroroonan mo.

    I hope his can help some of our fellow bikers. Ride safe!

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Feel free to write a comment or a message. You can also send me an email at jovan [at] bisikleta [dot] ph.

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