There’s a feeling of freedom that comes with cycling in a big city which is very important, as one can feel trapped by the routine of touring, work, or even travel.... Even if freedom is an illusion the physical sensation of riding does a pretty good job of making it seem attainable for a moment.
-- David Byrne
David Byrne writes about how things are looking up for commuters on bicycles in New York, having cycled in the city for over 30 years. Oh how I wish the same could be said for Baguio! I vaguely remember some years ago that the city of Baguio was given funds by something like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank to create bicycle lanes thanks to some visionary council member! Needless to say, the lanes never materialized. And who knows what the visionary council member did with the funds.
Lucky David Byrne has cycled "for transport, not sport" in some of the world's greatest and worst cities, including Manila! Risking life and limb on a bicycle is sheer adrenalin, the stuff of life, the play between the work, and he knows it. He mentions Paris and Bogota as cycling friendly cities and is particularly happy about city streets that are given over to bicycles and pedestrians. I'd say Oxford and the Midlands are great examples too. When are the old hawks on Session Road and in City Hall ever going to see the light about the pleasures and benefits of walking and cycling streets? As it is, cycling on Session Road is illegal! But we do it anyway, because we believe we have a right to do so. You'll never see us double parking or clogging the damn street anyway, the way some SUVs and taxis do on a regular basis.
We like the Netherlands because the whole country moves on bicycles. (And they have a policy of tolerance towards marijuana. Don't you think Amsterdam or Leiden would make a great model for Baguio?) Whatever the weather, and whatever the destination -- market, grocery, school, office, picnic, party, museum, lunch or dinner date -- the Dutch go on their bicycles, and so do their babies! The whole country is traversed by bike lanes, so that it's possible to cycle through cities, villages, farms, and polders without ever leaving a bike lane. Because of this, I can almost forgive the landscape for being so unrelentingly flat!
The number of cyclists you'll see in Baguio on any given dry day is on the rise. I wish I could confirm this observation of mine by spending a few days on the streets with one of those clickers that you click to count things. (I'll also need a clicker in the other hand to count the number of smoke-belching vehicles that go by.) I believe that soon there'll be enough of us to form a constituency with a voice, and then the streets will be ours!!! Mwahahahahahaaaaa!