Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Bringing my Brompton in the MRT
Commuting by bike is not easy in Metro Manila. That’s probably why so few people do it. There are no bike lanes, whether painted, separated or segregated. We compete for the same space on the road as cars, buses, trucks, tricycles and motorbikes. So, the name of the game is defensive biking. We have to be wary of motor vehicles zooming past us on both sides. Helmets and good brakes are a must!
No bike lanes in Metro Manila.
Then there’s the problem of bike parking. Very few malls have designated parking facilities for bikes. And to those with bike parking, the stalls are located at an obscure place (i.e. at the back, down in the basement, etc.) when it should be in view of a lot of people to discourage stealing. It’s scary to park your P20,000.00 commuter bike or P60,000.00 mountain bike. One should really invest in two solid bike locks or else face the consequence of losing your bike after a date at Starbucks. Luckily, Bromptons can be folded and brought in the mall.
We also have to deal with the smoke. Metro Manila has one of the highest level of pollution in the world. So, if you don’t wear a face mask, then be prepared to breath in the Manila smog.
As for multi-modal commuting, you can load your folding bike in buses and taxis, it’s no problem. As far as I’m concerned, bus/cab drivers don’t charge extra. However, you will have a hard time loading folding bikes in tricycles, pedicabs and jeepneys because of the small space available.
Metro Manila has 3 rail lines. LRT 1 traverses Baclaran (Pasay) to North EDSA (Quezon City), while LRT 2 serves the Doroteo Jose (Manila) to Santolan (Marikina) route. Both lines allow folding bikes in their trains. MRT, which runs along EDSA, sadly does not. My friends over at Tiklop Society of the Philippines are working, as we speak, for this rule to be overturned.
Yellow Line is LRT 1. Purple Line is LRT 2. Blue Line is MRT.
Speaking of the MRT, last Sunday, I had a mini-bike ride scheduled in Greenhills. So, I biked 8 kms from my place to MRT-Magallanes Station. Although I knew bikes were still not allowed in MRT, I tried my luck. I folded my Brompton and covered it with the black nylon cover. I went up the station and faced the security guard at the entrance. He asked me what was beneath the cover. I unzipped it and told him it was a folding bike, nonchalantly. Well, whadduyahknow, he allowed Brommie Skywalker in!!!!
Brommie Skywalker hiding under his cloak as the MRT train passes by.
I think he didn’t mind because it was 6 in the morning, on a Sunday, and there were a few commuters.
I got off at MRT-Annapolis Station. Biked to Greenhills Shopping Center and joined the monthly critical mass ride (CMR) of the Firefly Brigade.
From San Juan we biked 11 kilometers to Chinatown in Binondo, Manila.
Brommie Skywalker with other tiklops in front of San Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Binondo.
My Tiklop buddies and I had brunch in Tasty Dumplings. Abel suggested pork chop rice. Not a bad deal for P99.00.
Porkchop Rice at Tasty Dumplings in Chinatown.
Tiklops inside Tasty Dumplings.
After eating, the group biked back to San Juan. I broke away from them and biked 11.5 kms back to Makati via Roxas Blvd.