Here’s a reminder that deaf bikers exist in the Philippines and they are more vulnerable than the average cyclists.
We were on a parking lot when a mountain biker wearing a flashy vest approached us. He did some hand signals, it seemed like he’s asking if the nearby sports park was open. His name is Giosue.
And then we saw signs at the back of his bike and vest that say that he is deaf.
Aside from not being able to hear us properly, he can’t also utter words. We tried communicating so we can help him with his problem. Our phone’s notepad came in handy.
Giosue was looking for a job. Apparently, he was given an address of a possible employer but the workplace was closed during his visit. We had a few attempts of calling the person who gave this biker the employment details but he did not pick up.
There’s a universal language that we both understood: bicycles. He was proud to show his gear and even agreed for us to take pictures of it. He even rode his MTB and signaled us to take pictures of him while he’s on it. We saw that he’s happy during our shoot even though he was struggling to put up a good angle for the photos.
We learned from other deaf bikers that there’s no proper road guidelines and protection for them. Being safe on the road is a personal initiative. For example, they just wear protective gears and try to be alert as much as possible.
Many have probably experienced motorists impatiently honking at cyclists on the road. Aside from it being rude, it’s not really effective especially to deaf bikers. We wouldn’t say it’s totally useless but it’s unnecessary noise. Instead of the angry horns, everyone should be conscious about sharing the road and for motorized vehicles to always yield to bikers.
Some people would say that deaf bikers shouldn’t be on the road because it’s not safe for them. We disagree. Roads should be inclusive for PWD cyclists and bike infrastructure should be properly implemented. And many of them need to travel and riding a bicycle is their most efficient option.
We said goodbye to Giosue. He waved at us, got on his bike and zoomed away. We were left in the parking lot hoping for his safety as he rode back home.