Monday, February 15, 2016

I want to ride my bicycle (but the Mayor won't let me)

Just like many others, I too do double takes when a flashy coupe zooms by, yield to imposing "get-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-run-you-over" SUVs and once in a while find myself daydreaming of driving one of those.

I personally drive a 25-year old mini van. A Toyota Liteace which just came out of a car hospital - for just like its owner, its joints needed some lubricating, get its bearings... repacked, re-greased, replaced. While in there, I thought it might as well get an oil change. It's running so well now and i'm very happy. it breezed through this morning's emission test. But in those daydreams, I find myself wanting to sell the van, add to it to get a car that's at least a few years younger, with an engine that's a bit bigger, stronger.

A prospect presented itself - a Chevrolet Trailblazer, just about a decade old, reasonably priced. Sell the van, then scrounge up more to cover the cost. What usually bursts the bubble for me is this - how much gas would that V6 engine eat up for every engine start, uphill climb, occasional trips to San Juan, La Union or Manila, and would our family's carbon footprint be justified?

I don't think so. See, it's not like the van's 1800-or-so cc cannot provide for our needs, or even my need as an artist who often does location shoots from way up north to a bit down south on various, often unforgiving terrain. The Liteace has taken us to highest point in our country's highway system, up to Sagada and Besao and even over that treacherous under-repair road to Batad, Ifugao last year. Sure the van came back home to Baguio with a few added "sound effects": more squeaks and thuds, but nothing the Manong down the road can't fix with an adjustable wrench, WD40 and few taps here and there.  

An 1800, even with some 6 or 7 passengers on board, runs comfortably at 100 kph along the sleep-inducing TPLEX. That V6 can surely go much faster, but who needs 120, 130, eeeek, 160(!) when the country's superhighways pegs the limit at 100 kph anyway?

Besides, I can hardly afford to keep the van gassed up - which brings me closer to the title of this article (pardon the long intro and the digression/s)...

...see, climate change is upon us, believe it or not. Excessive man-caused carbon emissions at the top of the suspects list. And while the van sevices the whole family, a lot of times I find myself driving that van alone. Yes, that van that's designed to accommodate as many as 9-passengers, okay, maybe 7 more comfortably. Sometimes on long drives to the lowlands, more often to downtown Baguio. I cringe a little when I get caught, nay, WHENEVER I HELP CAUSE TRAFFIC in the city's Central Business District and realize how much space that van is taking up and how much carbon is spewed out onto the atmosphere to bring me, one person, to my destination. Destinations that, while may be quite physically challenging for my middle-aged knees to walk, are easily accessible by bicycle.

So the past few weeks, my SUV daydreams have been replaced by ones with me wearing a helmet pedaling to town. That's certainly more affordable than an SUV with a V6 engine, and I wouldn't have to sell the van. And in a city battling with worsening vehicular traffic and air pollution, a bike makes sense.

But the city government of Baguio, under the leadership of the Hon. Mauricio Domogan, Mayor of Baguio City, is the bubble-burster his time - bikes have just been banned not only along Session Road, but in the whole Central Business District.

While other cities have been doing all they can to accommodate and encourage cyclists to help mitigate vehicular traffic and lessen emissions, Baguio once again takes a step backward with this ban. Just like it does whenever the city condones environmental destruction in the name of development (read: commerce, and that isn't always equals development).

Ahhh, to borrow lines from Freddie - I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike... but Domogan won't let me.

Photo lifted from the comment of Jp Leung on a post on my page

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I enjoy reading your articles, sir. Well written, thought out and quite entertaining to say the least. More power.