#ShareTheCity reminds us that the city is for everyone

Cities are made for people and it’s such a waste to see big spaces taken up by no one but empty cars.

If there’s one positive thing that has recently emerged in the Philippines, it’s probably the value of sharing—we share food in community pantries, we share the road this quarantine and lately, there’s an online call that we should #ShareTheCity.

It became a habit of ours to visit Esteban Street in Makati whenever we are in Ayala, maybe to relax, get coffee or grab a donut. Perhaps because bicycles are very much welcomed there, all thanks to the warm cycling community that Esteban Cycling Club (ECC) built.

So last April 24, a Saturday, it was very disappointing when Makati enforcers told cyclists that they were not allowed to be on the curbside with their bicycles. They were drinking their coffee.

The enforcersa said that the cyclists should park their bikes on the designated bike rack found on the other side of the street. It was located 120 meters away from where they were.

When the news was brought over to the internet, it was not only cyclists who became upset. Everyone who thought that Makati was a bike-friendly city was disappointed. There were even those who expressed that the rule was pretty ridiculous because bikes are somewhat small items to be considered as “obstructions.”

Apparently, there’s a sign around the city that mentions a Makati traffic ordinance that doesn’t allow bikes, cars, e-scooters and motorcycles to illegally park and wait, with 500 to 3,000-peso fines. That’s pretty unfortunate especially for food delivery riders who help us this pandemic.

Then the hashtag #ShareTheCity was born.

“Unang thought in my mind is on Sundays, the city is ours kasi walang parking restrictions. Tapos one night, after mangyari nung Saturday na mainit ‘yung sita sa mga cyclists, naisip ko na bakit parang free lang tayo ng Sunday? Why not hindi pwede everyday? Doon na nag-revolve yung idea,” Jay of ECC, who started the campaign #ShareTheCity, told First Bike Ride.

Cities are made for people and it’s such a waste to see big spaces taken up by no one but empty cars. What’s worse is that most of the time, many areas are just for vehicles, unoccupied and we’re not allowed to be there.

Different cyclists and cycling groups participated in the #ShareTheCity campaign. They were collective in airing their concerns and demands to let bikers and everyone in general enjoy the open space of the city, as long as they don’t inconvenience anyone.

Makati heard the collective voice and after a few days, a bike rack was installed near V.A. Rufino Street just in front of Yardstick Coffee. The designated parking can accommodate around 12 bicycles.

It was a welcomed move by the cycling community —a “small win,” others would say. However, on its first day, the enforcers unfairly called out one biker who locked his bike beside the bike rack because it can’t fit inside.

You see, the public bike racks found around Ayala are poorly designed and can’t accommodate many types of bicycles. But that’s better than nothing, we guess.

“’Yung rack, for me, is there to secure your bike. Let’s say, aakyat ka ng building or you’re going far,” Jay said. “But if you’re in a café, or you’re literally beside it and it’s not in the middle of the road, then I don’t see any problem (if you don’t lock your bicycle in the bike rack).”

Are bicycles obstructions? We don’t think so, or only if it’s left unattended in the middle of the street. Bicycles don’t really consume much space unlike cars and it can be easily relocated in case it needs to be moved.

Bicycles bring good business, there are bikers who deliver food and customers who ride their bike to stores. And cycling is perhaps one of the most ideal means of transport during this pandemic so there are a lot of people moving with their two-wheeled rides.

“#ShareTheCity doesn’t just end from just having a bike rack,” Jay told us.

We agree. The city is ours, the people, and it shouldn’t just be on a Sunday.

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