Being a Predictable Bicyclist on the Road

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Some people take pride in considering themselves as an “unpredictable” person. They equate this quality with being spontaneous, fun, and gregarious. But while this may be a desirable trait in our social intercourse as they give way to meaningful relationships, it is a very negative and certainly undesirable trait in bicycling. A bicyclist must be predictable on the road. Being predictable is necessary if you want to survive on board your two-wheeler on the streets. Consider this as gospel truth: the more predictable you ride your bicycle, the safer you will be on the streets. The question however, is how you become predictable while bicycling.

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Five Types of Bicyclists You’d Want to Ride with Anywhere

 

One good thing about bicycling is that you can enjoy both as a solo or group activity. If you are an avid bicyclist, you would have tried both and in all probability, you did enjoy bicycling in both modes. You would have lost nothing in terms of excitement and adventure either ways. But sometimes, it makes sense that you look for bicycling adventures in the company of like-minded individuals. The Philippines fortunately, is blessed with hundreds of bicycling destinations and many are still to be discovered or developed. It’s quite hard to select one that’s easily accessible but it’s indeed harder to find bicycling companions. If you belong to a bicycling group, this could be easy since many of them have scheduled rides during weekends all throughout the year. It could be a trail ride, a day or night urban ride or just a leisure ride around the city with no particular theme or destination. It is up to you to select which one you’d want to join. The only thing you have no control over is the composition of that group – anyone can join and thus you get all sorts of bicycling companions, some of which you wouldn’t really like at all. (This would be a topic of a future article.) Given the chance to select bicycling companions for a ride, any type of ride, here are five types of bicyclists that ideally you would want to have on your side as you pedal along the road to anywhere. Are they fun to be with on any ride? Let’s find out.


1. The Go-Anywhere-in-Any Weather Biker – If a foreigner asks you how many seasons we have in the country, the best answer is either hot and hotter, or wet and wetter. What we used to have were known as the dry and rainy seasons, but we now experience are the extreme ends of each of these two seasons. Concerned environmentalist would attribute this to global warming that causes radical changes in the world’s weather pattern. This emerging weather patterns have caused many rides to be canceled because people were afraid of the effects of the weather. Indeed, it’s not easy to be under the blazing sun or be caught in heavy rains and strong winds. The DOST has been known to miss in their weather forecasts. Thus in many occasions, prudence and erring on the side of caution somehow gets the better of many bicyclists and they decide to call the ride off due to prevailing weather conditions. But not all: we have the go-anywhere-in-any-weather bicyclist to look up to. He or she is there to encourage others to pedal on in spite of seemingly unconquerable conditions. Is this type of bicyclist fun to be with in a ride? Of course! The best of this lot however, has in mind the safety of bicyclist above any enjoyment of the ride. He or she may seem reckless at first but with experience, this type of bicyclist will know when to actually go or not. He or she calculates, with judiciousness, the merits of going or cancelling. Certain weather conditions can permit bicyclists to go ahead with a planned trail ride as they may even prove to be more fun and adventurous. On the other hand, there are some that can aggravate the ride and may force its cancellation. This type of bicyclist is an asset for the group and a pleasure as bicycling companion if he or she allows prudence to guide his/her decisions.


2. The Bone-Breaker – An intrepid bicyclist, with experiences borne out of countless falls and trips to the hospital. Our immediate thought would be that this type of bicyclist will cause disruptions to any type of bike ride. He/she would be the one who would go ahead of the peloton, trying to impress the others; ride on the sidewalk, do wheelies, bunny hop on road humps or do just about any stunt that if done by a lesser bicyclists would be enough to land the bicyclist in the hospital or worse. There is simply no way to contain this type of bicyclist in a narrow, straight road. Is this type of bicyclist fun to be with in a ride? Well, yes and no. It is no because if we think of safety first, the bone-breaker will be the first to be denied to join the ride. On the other hand, the ride maybe boring without him/her. The stunts he/she does can break the tensions and provide comic relief during a long ride. We can only tolerate his/her antics but then again, just as long as he/she is careful and only do stunts that he/she is truly capable of, all is best left to enjoy themselves.


3. The Advocate – Many of us have our favorite charities where we can exercise our moral and religious duty to give to others. Some people on the other hand opt to fulfill their social obligations thru advocacies. Firefly Brigade members, for example are advocates for clean air and sustainable communities and are thus always the type of bicyclists that are fund to be with in a ride, any ride… even if it is just a trip up to Mang Vic’s Bulalohan in Sierra Madre. There are many bicycle advocates group in the country and if you find yourself agreeing with their advocacy, you can join them and experience their unique sense of social and personal fulfillment.


4. The Fearful Newbie – This is the antithesis of number 1 and number 2 and somehow, even if they have fear of the unknown and thus may not be a fun ride companion, especially for the more experienced ones, they can still be the type of bicyclists that are fund to be with in a ride. They may need to be treated with kids’ gloves as they try to negotiate the ups and downs, the tumble and turns of a trail ride but if you are one who likes to share their knowledge with young ones, then riding with them will be an exciting opportunity to be a teacher/master to them. The fearful newbie will turn into an intrepid but safety-conscious rider in no time at all under your tutelage.


5. The Foodie – You have to join a Firefly Brigade CMR in order to see some foodie bicyclists in action and once you do, you will not have to ask if this type of bicyclist is fun to be with in a ride. You will immediately realize that the answer is certainly affirmative! The foodie bicyclist may not be what you may call properly a connoisseur or a gourmet but if you happen to ride with them, they will take you to a certain noodle house in Binondo, or somewhere in La Loma to savor their cholesterol delights, or go through the winding uphill climb towards the Sierra Madre or Antipolo. He or she knows what kind of food or drink will provide the energy to sit on top of the bike, pedaling for hours on roads that go up and down, left and right, or smooth and rough. Food may fuel the flesh of this type of cyclists to pedal, but his/her spirit feeds on their inner desire to feel the freedom of the open road, without barriers that hinder their pedaling onwards to the future.

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10 Cycling Myths You Need to Forget Now

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Myth 1: Bicyclists don’t pay road tax so they don’t have the right to use the road.

Argument to debunk this myth: With exceptions related to actual income received, we all pay our taxes to the government. In fact, the average wage earners are already being taxed in the form withholding tax which is automatically deducted even before they receive their total monthly pay. We can therefore say that the average worker who uses his bike to work can without doubt claim the right to use the road. We don’t need to discuss in what particular way our taxes are used but suffice it to say that all those who pay their taxes can use the road because the government spent taxpayers' money in building those roads. But it doesn’t mean that bigger vehicles have more rights than the smaller bicycles. Bigger vehicles can use more space of course because they need it but it should not be at the expense of bicycles being waylaid along the road. We need to respect each other and give each other their rightful space on the road.

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Safety on the Road for Cyclists Part 3

Figure 1. Proper road positioning is important for safety
Applying Riding Skills in Traffic and Proper Road Behavior

There are established rules (by legislation) that govern the behavior of all road users, motorized as well as non-motorized. Someone who wants to get a driver’s license has to know the rules and must pass a test on them before a license is issued. A bicyclist does not need a license and often, unless he or she also drives, is not familiar with those rules, which can be a disadvantage. However, equipped with solid riding skills, a cyclist can quickly pick up the rules of how to ride on the road in a safe manner, whether through learning by doing or by learning from the example of others. Learning to ride on the road by going on group rides with experienced cyclists is a great way to learn proper road riding behavior.

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