Thursday, February 08, 2007


I should join these two guys and go back to bicycling on a regular basis as I used to, though it isn't that safe a sport to do in the streets of Manila, which are oftentimes too narrow to be safely shared by both motorists and bicyclists. There are also those motorcycle and scooter operators who disregard even the most basic regulations; weaving through traffic at perilous speeds; hence, posing added risks to unwitting bicyclists.

New York has its share of hazards that threaten bicyclists also; foremost are those Manhattan cab drivers who get a thrill out of speeding by with his side mirror barely missing you by only an inch. Whereas, out in Long Island (where we often went for week-long biking/camping trips), the dangers came not from undisciplined motorists but from huge dogs who would get enraged by passing bicyclists. We had on a couple of occasions encountered such incorrigible canines that chased us for more than a mile.

In the many years of riding a bike, I had experienced two accidents, though minor but nonetheless startling. One occurred while riding back to Manhattan from a day trip to Jones Beach. I was still a skinny kid then weighing no more than 130 pounds riding an incredibly light 10-speed bike. I got caught in the afterwind of this huge trailer truck that zoomed by us. I was literally lifted off the ground along with my bike and got hurled to the sidewalk. I suffered some bruises and now bear a couple of scars from it.

The second time was when I was scared frozen by the sight of a huge python in the middle of the road out in Montauk Point, Long Island. At the speed I was going when turning the bend and then suddenly saw it, I skidded a few feet when I fell off my bike, and ironically landed near this humongous snake, which paid me no mind as it continued to crawl its way to the other side of the road.

Besides the long distance bike trips to Long Island, there was also the annual bike marathon around Central Park sponsored by Pepsi that I looked forward to during the summer. We were given all these goodies for signing up, but we'd only do a couple of laps; spending the rest of the day playing frisbee and tennis instead.

There was also a time when bicycling was being encouraged as the main mode of transportation in Manhattan to ease vehicular traffic and pollution. It was an all out effort which included the designation of bike lanes on almost all main roads and avenues in the city. But the enthusiasm would wane during the winter months. Originally, its proponents envisioned Manhattan to become like Beijing whose commuters greatly favored bicycles. Unfortunately, this project to promote the use of bicycle in Manhattan did not generate enough momentum. It eventually fizzled.

Ironically, at present, due to the continued surge in automobile ownership in China, the sight of mass bicyclists is being replaced by horrendous vehicular traffic. Thus, Beijing became more like Manhattan instead of the other way around. Oh, well; the pains of progress, I guess.



posted by Señor Enrique at 4:22 PM


Blogger Kyels said...

Your post reminds me of how I used to bike when I was still in high school. The endless hours of biking through the streets ... And without the handlebars!


February 08, 2007 8:27 PM  

Anonymous bugsybee said...

I love biking too and even after a major operation on my knee, I used to bike around the city. But I no longer do that these days because a lot of bikers told me it's no longer safe to go biking alone. :(

February 08, 2007 9:53 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

One of the things I greatly treasured as a kid was my bike, Kyels. It was a hand me down from my older brother, but I loved it and took very good care of it :)

February 08, 2007 11:25 PM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

I still keep 2 of my 80's modified Italian road bikes and a 96 model Nishiki mountain bike which I choose to ride on the bike lanes on some of my short commutes here in Los Angeles. And I must say that it's still fun and if not for the extra pounds that I carry around my gut nowadays, I would still dare go over the hills from the valley to get to my place of work once or maybe twice a week!

I finished a Century ride in 12 hours and 37 minutes way back in legs and butt was sore for 3 straight days after that, and was still walking funny for a couple more days after.

February 08, 2007 11:26 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Neither is it all that safe to ride a bike in New York these days, Bugsybee. Everyone is also required by law to wear a helmet. This was because of the increased incidence of accidents with motor vehicles.

February 08, 2007 11:28 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Cogratulations, Noypetes! That must've been quite a feat, huh?

I guess, LA has enough safe and wider roads to make the city still bike-friendly as opposed to NYC. But San Fran with its hilly streets ... hmmm, I don't think I'd make it that far on a bike ... hehehe.

February 08, 2007 11:34 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

"I skidded when I fell off my bike, and ironically landed near this humongous snake that paid me no mind as it continued to crawl its way to the other side of the road."

Eric, inisnab ka ng snake! LOL!

Unfortunately, I don't know how to bike. I was forbidden by my mom because of an ancient, unfounded, ridiculous belief that when a girl bikes, she may lose her virginity! Ditto with horseback riding. And a naive girl that I was, I believed her theory. But mom probably knew the theory was not true, and that she just wanted to discourage me from biking because she didn't want to worry about her youngest child roaming around on a bike. In other words, tinatakot lang niya ako noon para hindi ako gumala kung saan saan. :)

February 08, 2007 11:40 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


Another country that makes the bicycle an integral part of its daily transport is Germany. In front of train stations, one can see rows of these familiar contraptions parked and leaned close to each other.

And when I looked closer and found some rusting and in some state of disrepair, I was told that many commuters simply leave behind or forget about their bikes. Thus, it is not unusual for any distressed commuter to simply pick one and ride off with it.

And for Rhodora, first thanks for visiting and I am sorry to disappoint you but your dear mother was right. Here’s a site to find out:

We had learned about this phenomenon when we were growing up, thus we vowed (HeHeHe) not to confront our new wives should we find something missing during the honeymoon's first night.

February 09, 2007 1:27 AM  

Anonymous Ferdz said...

I've always wanted to get into that sport. Pero mahal ang magandang bike :( ok na sa akin climbing and photography :)

ANd I think with all the smog in the metro. It could be a health risk

February 09, 2007 1:36 AM  

Anonymous carlotta said...

wow buti na lang di kayo pinansin nung python! hehehe.

just this week i decided to go biking again (to lose weight =)) but with the presence of a dog up the hill and lots of trucks outside (me warehouse kasi dun) i just confined myself first to our driveway, which is fortunately big enough. so ang tumatahol lang sakin ay yung very annoying na jack russel ng pinsan ko. =)

February 09, 2007 5:21 AM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

In the San Fernando Valley, we now have a dedicated lane for bicycles that can take you from the west side all the way to North Hollywood. And of course the bike racks attached to the front grill of the buses and the privilage to take your bike inside the red line train makes it really a lot more convenient to commute on your bike here in the westcoast.

February 09, 2007 5:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oo nga, Rhoda! nagkagalos-galos na nga ako, eh, inisnab lang ako ng pagkalaki-laking ahas na iyon. Akala mo kung sino sya ... pwe! hehehe.

But after checking out the URL shared by Amadeo, your mother's concern might have been justified after all.

February 09, 2007 6:18 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I must have seen similar scenes in those foreign films, Amadeo, in which someone would just grab a bicycle from a pile and ride off with it.

However, those bikes used for long distance touring are often comprised of pricey Japanese and Italian components that it would be foolish to just leave them unprotected. I opted for those lighweight Fujis because I had to carry it when I used to live in a walk up apartment in Manhattan.

February 09, 2007 6:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's right, Ferdz! I had overlooked the smog and those fumes from exhaust pipes of ageing jeepneys and buses that plied Manila's main roads. Jeeez!

Galing pa nga sana kung talagang safe -- riding on a bike while looking for photo subjects!

February 09, 2007 6:30 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, you have to be very careful about those street dogs, Carla ... delikado!

The absence of safe biking areas only makes people opt for those stationary bike machines, but it can be extremely boring, I think.

Most small dogs if not properly trained from the beginning could be utterly annoying.

February 09, 2007 6:34 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You Californians are so blessed, Noypetes.

When I spent some time in LA, I managed to do some biking, too, in the neighborhood of Los Feliz, as well as in and around Venice Beach area. It was fun!

February 09, 2007 6:38 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


Now that you mentioned it, I do have an older Fuji racer that has been sitting in on open shed in the backyard with two other regular bikes, all longing for riders while slowly rusting away.

Originally got my biking interest sparked when I worked in San Francisco which has very active associations of bike messengers who operate around the city. These intrepid and daring messengers on wheels are your notch above UPS/FedEx because they can guarantee speedy time of delivery within the city, using their off-road bikes to weave in and around city traffic, streets, alleys, pedestrian lanes, etc. They are a sight to behold, especially given the topography of the city, and as long as you keep out of their way.

Often wondered if they are a unique phenomenon of San Francisco.

February 09, 2007 7:29 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Maybe you should donate those old ones to a thrift shop or a church so someone may bring back life to it, Noypetes!

Yes! Those awesome bike messengers whose bikes rarely have brake mechanism. There was a movie with Kevin Bacon about these "faster than flying bullet traffic dodgers!"

A friend once worked as one during the summer and made good money from it :)

Personally, in NYC, I've gone through a Peugeout, Fuji, Trek and Iron Horse (mountain bike). But I used to drool over those custom made bikes with Shimano and Campanoglo parts :) Sweet!

February 09, 2007 7:43 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Pardon me, Amadeo.

The above comment was a reply to yours. Sorry.

February 09, 2007 8:30 AM  

Anonymous LAR said...

I used to bike before but not anymore. It was fun and if I will have the chance again, I'll buy another bike and bike to and fro our office. :)

I like the angle of your shot. Very nice! :)

February 09, 2007 9:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

A lot of folks feel the same way you do, LAR; that is, if safer lanes and roads abound. Bicycling is indeed fun and better for our environment.

As for the pic, thanks! I force myself to look at things from different perspectives nowadays :)

February 09, 2007 10:13 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

My husband bought this mountain back I think 3-4 years ago. The first one was stolen, at the mall. Then he replaced it with another one. He would go biking in the summer. Exercise daw nya. But since we bought a car this summer, hindi na nagamit. Nakatambak na lang dito sa basement.

February 09, 2007 12:56 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

I mean mountain bike, not back. :)

February 09, 2007 12:57 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

Yeah, with the advent of really cheap cars in china, and the breed of new millionaires there buying expensive european cars,the landscape of most of China's big cities are changing dramatically. It's more in Shanghai though. In Beijing there's still a lot and lots of bycicle- riding people. So much that they have their own 4-lane road in the highway.

February 09, 2007 1:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's why it is a good idea to have a few riding buddies, Irene. This way, you have others to go with and egg you on if he interest begins to wane a bit.

At least the boys will someday get to use it.

February 09, 2007 8:02 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, I see, Rey. They showed on CNN the other night about the staggering amount of vehicular accidents in Beijing because of poorly trained motorists. Now, the government is implementing more effective driver training programs.

February 09, 2007 8:04 PM  

Blogger Belle TH said...

senor, am the only person in the family who doesn't know how to ride a bike. can't seem to get my balance. i would rather jog or walk.

February 09, 2007 11:26 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I learned how to ride on my cousin's bike, Belle, out in the province during one summer.

Although I fell once in the beginning, it didn't deter me to really learn it on that same mornng. For a young boy, it was the most exhilirating feeling -- with the wind brushing against my face, though I was just going around in circle at the backyard. I still vividly remember that day!

February 10, 2007 7:07 AM  

Anonymous bw said...

Agree with you that biking in the city streets is quite dangerous. Nowadays many cities designate a biking lane to ensure the safety of bikers. But in areas without a biking lane, it is still dangerous, esp at night when bikers don't wear the right clothes and lights to make themselves visible :(

February 11, 2007 3:32 AM  

Anonymous cruise said...

nalala ko bigla yung mga nag bi bike sa lugar namin (QC circle every sunday), kung malakas lakas lang talaga ang loob, i would love to joing them, dami kasi akong nakikita na naaksidente sa hi-way, wala kasing bike lane dito sa pinas.

February 11, 2007 7:21 PM  

Anonymous iskoo said...

sa mga mayayamang bansa tulad ng japan, korea, europa natural lang sa kanila ang nag bi-bike, nagulat nga ako naka coat and tie pa papasok ng opisina. sa atin mangingitim ang ilong at damit mo kapag ginawa yan :)

February 11, 2007 7:24 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Never knew you had action-packed adventures with your bike, Señor E! Fortunately being crushed between two trucks isn't one of them.

I see you're in Blogger Beta now, congrats :)

February 11, 2007 9:42 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My brother's friend was hit by a bus in NYC, BW, which took many years of rehab therapy before he was able to go back to work. Since hearing about it, I became a lot more careful started wearing a helmet.

February 12, 2007 11:20 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Naku, Cruise, until now I cannot understand why the Quezon City officials never installed a walkwalk for pedestrians to cross the circle to head on over to the park; very dangerous and most vehicles do not stop to allow the pedestrians to cross. I can imagine how worse it would be for bikers.

February 12, 2007 11:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, that is true, Iskoo. basta maganda ang panahon (no rain or snow) you can see people in their usual business clothing riding their bikes.

February 12, 2007 11:22 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I had no other choice, Dave, but to switch to beta; otherwise I wouldn't be able to access my dashboard. However, downside is some of my old posts got messed up with format.

Yes, fortunately, nothing serious with biking accidents. There is a fellow member at a photo online forum who posted pictures he took of a motorcyclist who got dismembered when a huge truck ran over him. Disrturbing! Yuck!

February 12, 2007 11:25 AM  

Blogger dodongflores said...

Just wanted to know that I'd read this article and I like it. You're not only good at taking photos, your good in writing as well. Thanx for sharing...

February 23, 2007 10:48 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks for visiting Dodong! I had also just quickly browsed through your sites; bookmarked them, and iintend to visit regularly and more leisurely.

So, you're a diehard photography enthusiast also, huh? Good! Isn't it a very positive and creative preoccupation? No wonder we enjoy it so much :)

February 23, 2007 6:03 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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