Bikers to APEC leaders: Integrate cycling for mobility solutions
MANILA, Philippines – They wore capes and superhero costumes but they can neither fly nor crawl on walls. They didn’t use futuristic devices or drive convertible automobiles. But they are called to save the world from the threats of climate change.
An estimated 15,000 cyclists joined the 16th Tour of the Fireflies on Sunday, November 15. With their bikes, the riders pedaled the 31-kilometer route around the metropolis, leaving Tiendesitas in Pasig City at 6 am.
Armed with their advocacy for sustainable transport, the modern-day heroes joined forces to call for climate action from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders who are gathering in the country for the annual summit.
The Tour of the Fireflies (TOF) is an annual cycling event which gathers biking enthusiasts and climate advocates from all walks of life. It is organized by Firefly Brigade, a non-profit organization that promotes bicycles as an answer to the worsening traffic problems and noise and air pollution.
Sharing the road
As the bikers pedaled around Metro Manila for 4 hours, the lack of safe biking lanes became apparent. Sharing the road with the hustling vehicles in killer highways became a challenge for the TOF bikers.
Thus, the Firefly Brigade hoped to reach the nation’s leaders to act on the worsening problems of mass transportation. Jack Yabut, President of Firefly Brigade, stressed that traffic is no longer Metro Manila’s problem – it is now “Carmageddon.” (READ: Carmageddon: Why are there so many cars in Metro Manila?)
Together with their advocacy partners, Dakila and Oxfam, the Firefly Brigade urged APEC leaders to integrate Non-Motorized Transportation (NMT) in effective and sustainable transportation (SusTrans) plans.
With the Philippines being a developing country which is more vulnerable to climate threats, they called on cities to provide alternative modes of transportation.
The B.I.G. Ride
Dubbed as The B.I.G. Ride – Bicycles InteGral to Mobility Solutions, the 16th Tour of the Fireflies also held simultaneous cycling tours in different cities around the Philippines.
In partnership with local cycling advocacy groups, thousands of bikers also pedaled in Negros Occidental, Catarman in Northern Samar, Calbayog City in Western Samar, Catbalogan City in Western Samar, Negros Occidental, Dumaguete City, Sorsogon, Davao City, and Iloilo City.
The tour finished at 10 am. The cyclists gathered for a short program where awards for Best in Costume/Dressed Bicycle, Biggest Contingent, and Oldest and Youngest Riders were given.
The TOF cyclists also enjoyed a mini concert featuring performances from Ebe Dancel, Up Dharma Down and Tropical Depression.
Musician and biking enthusiast Ebe Dancel shared his dream for the biking community. “It is also my dream that there will be more biking lanes in Metro Manila," he said.
Up Dharma Down’s Armi Millare likewise encouraged cyclists to sign #TuktukToParis, an international petition campaign to call on urgent climate actions from world leaders who will be gathering for the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) this December.
President Benigno Aquino is set to join world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama in the annual climate conference in order to come up with sustainable climate mitigation policies. (READ: Aquino to attend Paris talks)
Love as the driving force
TOF riders got a glimpse of the first-ever bike film of the country, “Lakbay2Love” starring Solenn Heussaff and Dennis Trillo. The biking-advocacy movie will have its commercial screening on January 2016.
Heussaff and Trillo also made their duet version of the OPM classic, “Overdrive," with its lyrics changed to fit the movie's message. Its music video was released during the second year commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Yabut stressed the importance of changing lifestyles, sharing how people are opting to get out from their cars and start biking on their way to work or school. He reminded everyone that love for the environment and for the future generation will be a strong driving force in this advocacy. – Rappler.com
Janica Mae Regalo, a 4th year Mass Communications student at San Pablo Colleges, is a Rappler intern.