The dream: to live in a city with lots of trees and less dependence on cars

First Bike Ride saw writer Lou Albano’s IG story of a bicycle with the text “And finally, I ran errands on a bike and it’s like a step closer to my dream.” We got so curious about this dream (we’re kinda nosy, hehe) so we asked her a few questions.

Lou’s answers and dreams are not just something for herself, they are also for her city. In our conversation, she asked valid questions too. Her thoughts and realizations are something that resonate to many people who have been riding a bike in Metro Manila, and that includes us.

𝐅𝐁𝐑: Why do you prefer to ride a bike?

𝐋𝐨𝐮: It’s really for the environment. I gave up my car after college when I landed a job in an office that was walkable from my house. When the office moved farther away, I decided to commute because that was the greener option than bringing a car. 

Then traffic became crazier, I started experiencing not-too-nice commutes, and I was often reminded that I was in Manila and not in Europe or Singapore where it was safer to commute and walk, so I reverted back to driving a car. 

The pandemic allowed me to try and live greener by way of a bike without looking too ambisyosa.

𝐅𝐁𝐑: We saw in your Instagram story that you used a bike for errands and you said that it was a step closer to your dream? Can you tell us more about this?

𝐋𝐨𝐮: The dream, really, is to live in a beautiful European city with lots of trees and less dependence on cars, so that running errands or going to work using bikes or by walking becomes pleasant and enjoyable. Ambisyosa talaga, ‘di ba?

While running errands on a bike, I thought it was a step closer to that dream. I may not be in Europe and there might not be enough trees in Manila but I was pedalling to the bank, to the grocery, and then to the coffee shop to get my monthly stash. There were less cars on the road and the ones there were considerate to me. Security of establishments I visited happily guarded my bike while I ran my business. Greenhills now has a very matinong bike lane. So, yeah!     

Riding bikes gives you a nice sense of freedom, and there’s a better sense of “pagiging makatao” and “maka-environment” because you are literally out there on the street, in the highway, wherever you’re biking. But it also teaches you to be responsible for yourself. You can’t go any faster than the speed your legs and your lungs allow. You need to follow rules because if not, mapapahamak ka. 

I wonder: if more of us rode bikes, will we become better people? If more of our leaders rode bikes as their main form of transportation, will they become more responsible, more maka-tao, and even more environmentally conscious? Ewan.   

𝐅𝐁𝐑: Who/what influenced you to finally go and ride a bike?

𝐋𝐨𝐮: I’ve been actively trying to learn how to ride a bike for eight years already. I remember my best friend took me to QC Circle but I fell sa may basurahan early in our session that we ended up laughing about it, hindi na ako natuto.

Then my niece taught me how to ride using her bike four years ago. And it took me forever that as soon as I was able to pedal two complete revolutions, she said, okay that was enough. So I never really learned.

In April, I remember thinking out loud on Facebook about how bikes should be included in our COVID response since it will give social distancing a chance, make commutes safer for workers and ergo, help companies and industries continue with their business.

I felt like such a hypocrite to advocate that when I didn’t know how. Lakas maka-others ba. So when I found out that my niece’s bike was parked in our garage, I said I’ll teach myself to ride a bike. 

It took me a week in total: first feeling what balance was like inside our living room, and then adding the element of pedalling in our backyard and finally, adding turns, learning how to brake, and co-existing with other bikers, pedestrians and cars around village. 

It’s been three months since I’ve learned and now biking hasn’t just become a form of exercise, it’s also become a mode of transport for errands. A step closer to my dream!

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