Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fair Play: A worthy biking advocacy

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on April 30)
WHILE I was inconvenienced, too, by the first Road Revolution, having to walk a kilometer while carrying a heavy box (while looking for an ATM, too), I don’t think that the Road Rev is a bad thing.

Sure, there were many hiccups in the first road rev, but if folks give up after the first road bump—or 10th—we wouldn’t have new oval at the Cebu City Sports Center and if they wave the white flag now, perhaps they are really not that serious in their goals.

The demand for a bicycle lane in the city is genuine and I happen to agree with it. Just because it seems difficult and impossible doesn’t mean it is difficult and impossible.

It doesn’t even necessarily involve building new roads or lanes.

I know a few folks behind the Road Revolution movement, including Vince Cinches, who’s been fighting for causes like this while Bobby Nalzaro was banging away drums to highlight a point.  Like Bobby, I think Vince’s 350.org, is using the Road Rev movement to forward their cause.

But unlike Bobby, I don’t think that’s necessarily bad and I don’t think Vince is using the biking community to get funds abroad.   I’ve known Vince since our student activism days at the University of San Carlos and that’s what activism is all about, to align yourselves with groups that share your cause.

While posting a question about which lane bikers should use—inner or outer—in this bike-lane city, I got into a brief, but interesting, discussion with Eric Nacorda, a footballer who is also an architect and knows a thing or two about urban planning.

Eric, who is old enough to remember that blue-collared workers in the Mepz used to bike their way to work in the 80s, said that perhaps the opposition to the bike-advocacy group is the lack of detailed plan on how they would go about the bike lanes.

Eric said, “If people say something is wrong, they should do so because they have a detailed idea that there is something better, an option that is better than the one being currently implemented....that’s the thing lacking in the bike advocacy right now...some groups insist that key traffic corridors should have bike-lanes 24/7, yet they don’t proposed how to remove two lanes from the six-lane South Expressway without disrupting the flow of traffic.”

Though I’m not sure if the bike advocacy doesn’t have a better option in mind, I don’t think I’ve heard one.  And a simple suggestion by Eric that’s doable and doesn’t need any new lanes is to identify certain areas in Cebu as bike lanes, but, the difference is, these won’t be bike lanes 24/7 but will be for certain times of a particular day, when most vehicular traffic are out.

Say, for starters, two lanes in Osmena Boulevard at 6 to 8 a.m. on Sundays? Surely, that won’t disrupt everybody’s Sunday morning coffee with their BFFs?  Another thing, aside from bike lanes, how about insisting malls, offices put up shower rooms (tax-deductible) so biking to get to your appointments could be now an option since you can freshen up. One of these days, when I finally afford one, I’m planning to bike my way around the city, too.

I think we can compare the bike lane advocacy to the group that pushed for the renovation of the track oval.  They were but a handful when they had their first meeting in 2008, but they never gave up. Now, four years later, we have a new track oval.

The bike lane advocacy is a commendable one, and we shouldn’t readily dismiss them because we hate one guy behind the movement. And this is one movement where the blue-collar workers, those who drive their rickety bikes to work or to deliver bills and newspapers, can benefit.

Sure, some would be inconvenienced, but if we want a life with no inconveniences….

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