I have been so remiss with Rainy Days and Mom Days. What can I say? With my magazine going from annual to three times a year, getting Silid Booklatan off the ground (we have two branches now, and more planned this year!), and the usual mommy/wifey duties, this website has been, sadly, neglected. But I was chatting with an equally busy friend, who runs So True Naturals, and what she said changed my perspective: "I realized that not having to write a world-changing blog each time makes it a lot less overwhelming to maintain a blog." So True!
With that in mind, here's a little non-world changing story about one of the most adventurous things that I've done lately.
I had errands to run yesterday, and a real-world lunch date with a group of virtual friends, so I decided to hitch a ride out with The Hubby, and just take a jeep and a train to Makati. When I got to the Magallanes MRT station, the line was insane! It snaked around the lobby, and all the way up the stairs to the third floor overpass. They weren't even letting people onto the platform anymore. I wasn't in a real rush, but I didn't want to sweat while standing idly in line--I'd rather sweat while doing something more productive, like find another way to get to Glorietta. I was contemplating either getting a bus, or going a more circuitous route via jeep, or even walking the kilometer or so to Glorietta when I saw these:
I had seen these bikes hanging every time The Hubby and I passed by on EDSA on the way home. I figured that they could be borrowed, but I wasn't sure how it all worked. Apparently, it's the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's new Bike Lane/Bike Sharing System. All you have to do is present a valid ID, sign in the MMDA logbook, and you can borrow a bike to use on the stretch of EDSA from Magallanes to Ayala and vice versa, passing the bike lane (which is also the pedestrian sidewalk). When you get to your destination, you just give back the borrowed bike, and helmet, if you borrowed one (I didn't--aside from getting helmet head, I wasn't too sure of whose heads it had been on previously). And so I thought, why not?
I approached the MMDA guys and asked how it went, and they were oh-so-nice-and-accommodating. They briefed me on the procedure while logging in my details, and they helped me choose the smallest bike (one that would let me put my feet down easily, since the last time I biked was more than a decade ago). They also answered all my questions, like were there a lot of people who borrowed the bikes, who usually borrowed them, did bikes ever get lost, and other nervous prattle (and the answers are: quite a few, but not a lot; day workers who worked in the posh village, and workers from the area; and yes, unfortunately, bikes did get lost).
And finally, they sent me off, after the MMDA guy asked me, doubt in his voice, "Ma'am, marunong ba talaga kayo mag-bike?" (Ma'am, do you really know how to bike?). I felt like tossing out a wise-ass answer like, nope, I plan to carry the bike to all the way to Ayala, but I was too nervous at the prospect of getting on a bike again (and besides, they deserved better than wisecracks, my bad). I admit that I am not an excellent biker. I'm not even a good one. I was starting to sweat even before I wobbled down the bike lane.
And boy, did I wobble. I must have been quite a sight, in case anyone happened to look. I, naturally, was in a decidedly non-biking outfit: white cropped jeans, asymmetrical tunic top, ballet flats, and a zippy red handbag (not even a shoulder bag that I could sling around myself). And I was all over the place. I doubt the MMDA would've wanted me as the poster girl for their bike share system. The bike/pedestrian lane was pretty narrow, and in some places, I wasn't confident enough to slip in between the post and the wall, so I got down and walked the bike. I probably walked the bike a third of the way. I also walked the bike across Arnaiz Avenue--there was a slight incline, and I didn't want to topple over in front of all those cars. And of course, pedestrians used the lane too--and they did have the right to be there. Drat. And once, I didn't know what to say as I was coming through, beyond "Excuse me po, padaan! Kuya, padaan po!" Until I finally stopped biking to let the oblivious man in front of me get a head start, then I would catch up on the bike, and stop...until he finally looked back and moved aside. I was grinning madly all to myself as I wobbled down the lane, smiling at everyone I met, with the occasional "good morning" to a few who looked at me with smiles rather than befuddlement. I felt like I was doing a good job, spreading some morning cheer to the world. I even heard a few of them say, "Ay, pwede palang humiram ng bike." "OK, ah."
I finally arrived at the Ayala station, and the MMDA guys over there met me with surprise. I suppose I wasn't the typical biker. Or it could have been wonderment that I actually made it that far. I was pretty filthy when I got to Ayala. I was sweaty, my white jeans had tread marks and pedal marks (I told you I wasn't a great biker) all over them, and the MMDA guy said, "Naku, ma'am, nasabit ba kayo?"--I had dirt marks all over my arm. He was sweet, actually, he got out some bedraggled cloth and proceeded to wipe the dirt off my arm with so much concern, it was touching. A few seconds after I arrived, another guy got in too, another first-timer (I asked), and a girl, who, like me, wasn't really dressed for biking (she was in slacks and flats, and she had huge headphones on, so I couldn't ask her if it was her first time). I'd like to think that I sort of influenced them to give the MMDA's Bike Sharing a try. Anyway. So I signed for the bike, and I was off to do errands. It took me less than 15 minutes (I am a slow biker, obviously).
I just want to say, kudos to the MMDA for coming up with this. Bike Sharing System. There could be more improvements (the bike lane is simply too narrow in parts), but at least they started something good. And I really appreciated the MMDA guys; they were pleasant and very, very helpful. I hope more people explore transportation options like this. A kilometer may not be a long stretch, but it's a start.
Good job, MMDA! And good job, me!
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the other biker chick episode, here it is.