Notes: Helping newbie bikers in Metro Manila

If you’re just beginning to ride a bicycle in the city, it’s really good to have an experienced biker guide you during your first bike rides. You’ll easily gain confidence when there is someone giving you practical lessons in navigating through the crazy roads of Metro Manila.

I still consider myself as a newbie biker here in the metro. But I’m confident to say that I’m very familiar with the city’s crazy traffic because I’ve been driving here for almost seven years. I love cycling but I usually do this in the province or abroad, in places where traffic is more manageable.

My first bike ride in Manila was with Jilson Tiu. I used his Bambike and he guided me from Binondo to Pasay. As my teacher, he told me some basic tips and warnings: motorcycles can be difficult on the road, Manila has so many potholes, keep right and enjoy the ride, among others.

“There’s a sense of freedom when you ride a bike,” he told me. That kept me motivated to get out of Binondo because that place is quite wild for first-timers. I have navigated a motorbike in busy Vietnam and Chang Mai but Binondo on a bike is still quite an experience.

When it’s my turn to guide newbie bikers, I didn’t expect that I’d be learning too. Here are some of the things that I have noted:

1. They will be discouraged. It’s hot, it’s tiring and it’s way comfortable inside an air-conditioned car. A vehicle swiftly passing beside them will add to the discouragement, even more if the driver honks his angry horn. I just let newbie bikers experience all of these things until they get comfortable with the inconveniences. The fulfilment of riding a bike will follow. They’ll initially complain but will ride again the next day.

2. Be slow. Your students are still getting at ease with the road and they will never go fast. Being close to them will make them feel assured that they are safe and you’re with them.

3. Let them walk and rest. Your students will easily get tired because they’re not used to this activity so let them walk their bicycles or give them some time to rest.

4. Put them back to the parking lot to practice again, if needed. Some students will back out once they start riding on busy streets because they’ll get afraid. It can be really hard, that’s totally understandable. Making them confident is the key so going back to the start and slowly taking it to the streets from their safe space is highly recommended, just so they can get the hang of it.

5. Don’t give up. It can be frustrating teaching someone to bike in Metro Manila because there are a lot of things that you can’t control: busy traffic, irresponsible drivers and ugly roads. But one of the things that you can control is your willpower to motivate newbie bikers. They’ll not give up if you will not give up on them.

Written by Lester Babiera

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