Bikes > Cycle

’Tis the season to try bike-commuting

Want to avoid getting stuck in Christmas traffic?

Enjoying Christmas season is difficult when traffic sucks the life out of you. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Christmas is said to be the most wonderful time of the year. While the season is supposed to be joyous and festive, the reality is often far from that.

Rather than assembling around the Christmas tree with family and friends, we seem to spend more time staring at vehicular light shows on the road—only to arrive late at year-end gatherings (or choose not to attend them at all).

Traffic has been horrible, and it’s only going to get worse as Christmas day approaches. The good news is that there is a way to avoid it. However, you will need to leave the car at home and explore other forms of mobility.

If you only need to move yourself and your personal belongings within a reasonable distance, there is a strong case for bike-commuting. Here are some reasons why now is the best time to try it.

Even without proper parking, the author was still able to secure his bicycle. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Bicycles do not eat up much space on the road, and this is what makes them more immune to gridlocks. As a result, travel times are consistent. More often than not, biking is just as fast as—if not quicker than—driving within the city.

Not only will cycling allow you to arrive early at Christmas parties, but you also get to go home on time (even when traffic is still horrible late into the night).

Speaking of space, parking isn’t as much of a problem. All you need is a spot where you can securely leave your bike. Thankfully, more malls now have bike racks, and some especially bicycle-friendly establishments would even watch over your bike or let you bring it indoors.

Bike-commuting allows you to get some exercise on a regular basis. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

It’s easy to think that the tropical climate makes biking in the Philippines impossible, but it doesn’t if you prepare properly with hydration and extra clothes. The good news is that now’s the best season to be outdoors with the cooler weather and the minimal rain.

While we enjoy the festive food served at Christmas parties, no one appreciates the weight gained from all the eating and drinking. Biking on its own won’t let you achieve your fitness goals, but it will help you burn some calories while traveling to your destination.

Electric bicycles make cycling more accessible. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
An electric kick scooter is an efficient way to get around the city. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Finally, if you’re able-bodied but not physically fit enough to ride a bike, there are pedal-assist bicycles and electric kick scooters. These light electric vehicles let you enjoy most of the benefits of active transportation, without leaving you exhausted at the end of the trip.

There's no need to get rid of the car. Just use it less. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

I’m not saying you shouldn’t drive at all. If you’re carpooling, hauling lots of gifts, or traveling long distances on an expressway, then taking a car could be your most practical choice (if you’re privileged to own one).

However, if we’re serious about solving our traffic problem, the only real way to do that is by reducing our dependence on cars—personally and systemically.

With an ideal transit system, no one should be forced to drive. Maximizing our diverse mobility options—such as walking, biking, and riding public transit—gets us closer to that.

You won't know what you're missing out on until you try it. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Despite the challenges and the imperfections, active transportation is worthwhile because it grants ordinary folks like you and me the freedom to travel, unbound by the restrictions of motoring. And it will save you a lot of time—time you can spend enjoying the holiday season with your loved ones.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.