Marikina revives bike program, offers lessons
The Marikina City government has relaunched its drive “to make biking more fun in the city” by offering free workshops to the public.
On Saturday, a group of 11 kids between the ages of five and 13 received lessons on how to ride a bicycle during a two-hour workshop conducted at the Marikina Riverbanks Amphitheater.
“We also encourage women and adults to sign up. It’s never too late to learn to ride a bike,” Carlota Contreras, head of the Marikina Bikeways office, told the Inquirer.
At the bike clinic, which will be held on weekends from January 14 to February 4 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., volunteers will teach every Saturday the basics of biking—from balancing to traffic rules and road safety.
On Sundays, the office will also offer basic troubleshooting and tuning for bike maintenance.
“We want to promote cycling, the joys of the hobby and its convenience as a mode of transportation,” Contreras said.
According to her, their office’s primary task is to “remove the barriers for cyclists.”
“We are hoping bicycles will be accessible to the residents. And if they want to learn how to ride a bike, we will teach them,” she said.
The operations of the Marikina Bikeways Office and the 52-kilometer bikeways network around the city have recently been revived four years after the biking program was mothballed.
When the project, which was launched through a $1.3-million grant from the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility in 2001, ended seven years later, the bikeways office was abolished and the bike lanes abandoned.
It took an executive order from Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman to jumpstart the revival of the bikeways office and the reopening of the bike lanes.
Contreras said that it was quite difficult to revive biking after the majority of their 500 bikes were washed away during the flooding spawned by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009.
“We only have a dozen now. That was why we appeal to the private sectors for a little help,” she added.
This year, the Marikina Bikeways Office has scheduled several events and activities for bikers. Among these are a fun ride around the city on January 22 at 7 a.m. and speed dating for bikers on Valentine’s Day.
She said the officials of the local government, being bikers themselves, have been supportive of the office’s advocacy.
According to her, the number of bikers on the road has always been one of their indications of the city’s wellness.
The bikeways office’s goal this year is to double the percentage of bikers in the city’s share of total traffic, which fell to only 10 percent last year.
“We want the residents to ride their bikes going to work, to the schools and to the public markets. By that, we reduce the traffic count of motorized vehicles and thus, help the environment,” Contreras said.