Walking amidst Metro Manila’s dynamic landscape opens up doors of revelations to the reality of the city – a stark contrast between the well-off and those living in complete destitution. And it’s in this disparity that women can easily fall victim to undesirables.
While commuting on two feet saves a lot more than constant refueling and Uber rides, it poses both an inconvenience and a security risk; thus, a revolution of women bikers are spawning. This growing breed is emboldened by the ecological alternative and empowered by their speed. As biking takes center stage as one solution to the implausible traffic woes, female cyclists should keep these tips in mind before heading out. Disclaimer: mostly from personal road hugot.
1. Stay Focused
Filipino drivers are extremely impulsive. Keep your mind on track and focus your attention on what is happening around you. My mind wanders off at times and I find myself hitting the brakes too hard when an uncouth motorist decides to swerve without using his signal lights. Train your eyes to see at 360 degrees and never let your guard down.
Photo from: Bikeyface.com
2. Dress Comfortably and Appropriately
I prefer athletic wear that screams my womanhood on the streets because a social experiment made me realize most motorists are more courteous towards female bikers. I know other women who bike in casual or office wear (in loafers or sandals) because they prefer convenience (and don’t produce a river of sweat) rather than lugging around a bag full of extra clothes. Whatever is comfortable.
3. Use Courtesy as Your Ace Card
Road rage is killing bikers and motorists alike. The best way to curb it is to not let some jerks on the road get to it. Be courteous when biking especially to pedestrians. Mothers with children and the elderly have top priority when crossing so just stop and let them pass. Courtesy towards aggressive vehicles will also elicit some form of embarrassment from a driver who realizes you’re a chick. Then just smile at him like he’s an uneducated shmuck.
4. Maximize Hand Signals
When you’re about to turn into a corner, best be safe and signal to the car behind you that you’re heading in. This applies most especially for when you want to change lanes. Signal with your hand or arm that you’re about to shift lanes. Despite this being a necessity for road safety, many seem to take this for granted. You shouldn’t.
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5. Keep that Smile On
Hear me out. This may sound like the last thing you do when the jeepney in front of you is billowing black smoke into your pores, but smiling does alleviate your road rage. Charm the hell out of drivers with a smile and they normally let girl bikers cut through. Don’t forget to say thank you with those pearly whites and make someone’s day less stressful.
6. Know When to Fold
While snaking about lanes in gridlock traffic can rally your courage to push the envelope with close calls at faster speeds, it’s still best to become perspective with your actions. Whether it is knowing when to advance or when to press on the brakes, folding from a situation is a natural response when our safety becomes questionable.
7. Have Your Defenses Ready
It doesn’t matter that you’re a female, but it is best to be equipped with a form of self-defense when traversing through both new and familiar routes. A basic knowledge of how to punch and kick (and at what points of the body) are good to have, but a weapon like a butterfly knife or pepper spray could really be a lifesaver when the situation calls for it. Also, have these weapons concealed in easy-to-reach areas of your pouches and bags.
Photo from: Knockoutindia.com
8. Know Your Routes
Study a new route the night before the ride and take note of all the various alleys and side roads as alternative courses with full knowledge that getting lost is a reality. Constantly stay on the prowl for traffic updates – road repairs and such that may force you to detour. Maximize directional apps like Google Maps and Waze but don’t rely on them solely when creating your routes.
9. Invest in Tools
From your water bottle to your pump, choose efficiency. Remember that the best purchases are not necessarily the most expensive. Cartimar and Quiapo have a slew of unbranded bike accessories that work just fine without the hefty price tags of high-end bike shops. In the event you do encounter a puncture, it’s better to be prepared with at least a personal pump, a patch kit and some tire levers (although some will bring a deflated interior tube just to be sure). This will give you enough air until you find a vulcanizing shop to properly patch your tires.
Photo from: Getty Images
Featured image from: sometimesnothingisarealcoolhand.com