Asia Featured | The unlikely resurgence of bicycles in Philippines

TAIPEI (The China Post) — As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, an old mode of transportation — the bicycle — is making a comeback in the Philippines.

This resurgence in bike-riders is propelled by the Filipino government’s limit on the number of passengers on the bus and the train. Flocks of citizens, especially commuters, have resorted to pedaling in order to continue their daily journeys.

There is a caveat; however, the biking culture in the Philippines is stifled at best. The majority regards the two-wheeled vehicle as a toy, a mere entertainment for children, instead of a normal means of transportation.

As a result of the Philipines’ hasty industrialization in the twentieth century, city infrastructures are primarily designed for cars, which in turn have overwhelmed the transportation system across the country.

Crucially, the lack of development and funding for bicycle lanes and favorable cycling paths have rendered cycling as an inaccessible transport medium in normal times. Whereas during a natural disaster such as a typhoon or flood, the bike becomes a form of emergency management.

Advocates of bicycles such as “Bike for the Philipines,” an organization donating second-handed bicycles to school-children, are busy promoting this underestimated vehicle as a source of relief in the midst of the pandemic. They hope to pedal the country forward through the acceptance of bicycles, one revolution at a time.

As Mia Buno, biking and road safety advocate encapsulates, “when all systems fail, the bicycle is basically your lifeline,” the bike is keeping the country’s economy alive even in this formidable crisis.