Monday, June 19, 2017

Perils of Biking and how to avoid mitigate them

Wheels of Happiness

Rizal Philippines
June 19, 2017

Happy Rizal (Birth)Day today.  It is a holiday in entire Laguna to celebrate the natal day of who is recognized as national hero.

Warning:   the pictures are graphic and can be disturbing

From topgear - Nathan Buenconsejo - pinned by jeepney   He is a kapadyak from Rain Forest in Pasig City

Bicycle accident in the Philippines

Image result for bicycle accidents philippines

Image result for bicycle accidents philippines

Image result for bicycle accidents philippines

1127 deaths from bicycle accidents

The article reports that in 2005 to 2013, there were 1127 deaths arising from accidents involving bicycles compared to only 366 involving 4 wheeled or more vehicles.  This is 3x  more

I have long wanted to write on this to collate my experience on the said topic:  perils of biking and how they can be motivated.  It always escapes my attention until yesterday when a twenty foot container plowed into several people killing four in Taytay Rizal. Another post at facebook showed a donation campaign for a biker who met an accident in Antipolo:   he broke his jaw when his brake locked which caused his fall. He needed jaw reconstruction which cost a lot of money.

Many of us would dismiss or shrug off the dangers and just be careful;   when we have to go we  go.  And we would like to go with our boots on (cleats on) rather than wait for our time on the rocking chair.

I would like to list down classifications of causes/sources of dangers from biking:

1.  conditions of the road
2.  behavior of pedestrians and commuters
3.  behavior of  vehicle drivers:

        1.  motorcycles and tricycles
        2.  jeepneys
        3.  truck drivers

4.  non observance of traffic rules and regulations

5   fellow biker

6.  mechanical failures from the bike

1.  Conditions of the road

     1.  There could be broken glasses or other debris on the road that could puncture the tires and cause our bikes to go out of control.   Or we would avoid the obstructions and in the process be hit by a speeding vehicle from our left side

    2.   Two wide joints that could cause our narrow road bike tires that would cause the bike to suddenly stop

    3.   Manhole covers drainage gratings that are traps.  I met an accident in Shangrila Edsa after I biked from Baguio that resulted in more than P100,000 operation to repair a face fracture.  My 21 mm tire fell into the gratings space and the bike stopped and I fell.  It is good I had my helmet on.  I lost consciousness and my nose bled from fracture on the nose bridge.

   4.   The new Manila Water manhole covers at the Manila East road.  They are still not finished and there are no warning signs.  Its either you get surprised and end up having crooked wheels or broken fork, or you suddenly avoid this, swerve and be sideswiped by a speeding tricycle

   5.  Concrete spilled from concrete mixers.  Do you see this when you ascend Antipolo especially near Marian Hills and Beverly Hills.  These should be removed by DPWH or the transit concrete companies

   6.   Very uneven main road and road shoulders.  Because of frequent asphalt resurfacing, the difference in road elevation can be a minimum of 3 inches up to 12 inches (near Kalayaan in Laguna).  This is observed in Antipolo, Morong, Pililla and Tanay.    This is very very dangerous especially when it rains.   If you come from the road shoulder, and you climb the main road, you will crash!!!

   7.  Non existing or badly made bike lanes.   I tried to bike at Marikina at the bike lanes.  Some bike lanes run straight into posts or guy wires of Meralco posts, are uneven (due to the drive ways) and most are blocked by parked vehicles.   In QC the bike lanes are used as passenger terminals of jeepneys and buses (near Batasan and Sandigang Bayan)  

      We need more bike lanes.  Biking is one transport system that is environmental friendly and can help ease fuel consumption and carbon emission.  But without proper infrastructures and enforcement, and perceived lessening of danger in biking, this will not be adopted by  many commuters

2.  Behavior of pedestrians and commuters

   1.  Pedestrians just dart of nowhere (from their houses) straight into your path and you have very little time to react.

  2.  Pedestrians just dart from between parked vehicles or vehicles caught up in traffic

  3.   We were taught early on in the elementary school to always look to your left and right before crossing.  Most pedestrians dont

  4. Some can not make up their mind.  They cross stop come back and vacillate confusing us.  And which results in an accident

  5. Commuters line up to 1/3 of the highway to wait for their ride.  It makes for difficult navigation especially in areas where commuters get their rides

  6. When commuters alight from vehicles they just cross the street without stopping or throwing caution to the incoming traffic.

  7. When the jeepneys stop for their passengers the commuters just board the jeep.  And you riding at the shoulder at say 20 kph can bump into the said passenger boarding the jeep

3.   Behavior of other drivers/vehicle operators

     These could be due to:   driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, lack of knowledge of traffic rules, being macho or lack of road courtesy.  Many for example tricycle drivers do not seem to have:   drivers license, seminar on road safety.  Some cant seem to understand nor read traffic rules and regulations

    1.  Counterflow  -  you see a lot of these during rush hours say from 5 to 7 am

    2. Sudden stops (eh some of them do not have traffic light)

    3.  Swerving cutting into your lane (especially if the passenger is getting off or somebody flagged them off)

    4. Turning into intersection without signal or being at the outer lane (wrong lane)

   In general this stems from total disregard of these drivers to the bikers as non existent if not low life beings.  In general while in a traffic in Morong, a tricycle driver admired my Bianchi bike and remarked that it could be P10,000 only.  It reflects lack of appreciation of the value of the bikes by these drivers

    5. Squeezing you off the road.  For a P8.00 additional fare, the jeepney or tricycle driver would try to get you off the road, or engage you in squeeze play

    I have experienced riding to the right of a jeep, with a MC overtaking me from the right;   on some occasions I get passed from both sides by MC.    Whew.  In some countries, as in Singapore, MV are enjoined to observe 1.5 meters distance from bikers when passing, and only from the side that is allowed by law.   In UK, or  Singapore that would be from right side of the road;   in the Phil or USA that would be from left side of the road.

  One day, as I was preparing to turn left, a motorist was furiously honking me (I was in the  middle or the road )and yelled at me to keep at the left side of the road.  I shouted back I was turning right.

   4.  Non compliance  with traffic rules and regulations

Stricter penalties on traffic violations

        We note that when OFW are working abroad, they follow the strict rules of the country where they are in of their employers and on the road.   If they dont, they run the risk of being fired from their job or worse, be repatriated.  So most elect to follow and obey the laws.   Some who dont face the severe penalties like being beheaded in public.

      When we are here in the country, our country men become pasaway.  WILD.  They follow traffic rules only  during working hours (as provided by CSC) say 8 to 5.   Many say 90% wont stop at traffic lights, park at no parking zone, load and unload at no loading unloading zone.  I could  not  believe when a video was shown As we see, in our place, tricycle drivers execute U turn where none is allowed. or slow down or turn left or right without warning. Some would go to the extent of hurting or shooting the traffic enforcer or policemen.

     I also note that many motor vehicles or MC pass overtake us too closely, very close for comfort, and I could swear only inches away. Abroad  they observe the 1.5 meters minimum passing distance when overtaking bikes.  Penalties as in Ottawa Canada is a fine of $200 to $300.

Image result for 1.5 meters when passing bicycles

Image result for 1.5 meters when passing bicycles

Image result for 1.5 meters when passing bicycles

    Why do they behave that way?

   1.  Palakasan;   malakas sa police sa barangay sa mayor so they can violate the laws with impunity. The driver could be a military or police man. I have ridden a vehicle assigned to a colonel.  There are not traffic rules for the colonel.   No traffic light,  Counterflow etcc.

  2.  Corruption -  you could always bribe the traffic enforcer, the MMDA if you get caught

  3.  Enforcement is lax.    Even traffic enforcer, MMDA do not know the traffic rules and laws.  What they know is how to fleece the motorists

  4. Bad or absence of leadership.    We know of corrupt generals LTO LTFRB officials.  And what do we get.   Bad traffic, bad traffic enforcement

  5.  Political clout.  Some and many drivers belong to TODA and can exert very powerful political pressure on local and national govt.  Their strike can cripple the transportation system (but not so lately) So they manage to ply city and highway streets in violation of the law.  So now anything goes. And they are bad mouthed and discourteous.  Last night, a driver was smoking while driving despite existing prohibition, and nationwide ban on smoking in public places

Image result for no smoking while driving PUV

5.   Fellow bikers

     Yesterday I was chasing two bikers in Morong.   The slower one swerved in front of me and nearly toppled me over.   I braked and yelled "bike bike"    A champion biker from Binangonan figured in a painful crash in Biak na Bato in Pililla when a fellow biker grazed his front wheel.  Some fellow bikers are takaw disgrasya.

    I crashed in Jala jala ride when a fellow rider bumped into me.  I was on the left side of the road, he came from the side undergoing construction.   and  he swerved, and as he did rolled into a stone and crashed into me, giving me lot of bruises and rashes.

    Stay away from them.   Keep clear

6. Mechanical failures

     Ado crashed because his chain jumped as we was going down Las Brisas causing him to stop suddenly and crash. (This nearly happened to me at km 52 in Baras as I was climbing.  The chain broke, the pin got caught in the derailleur. The failure caused the bike to stop and lifted the rear derrailleur..

    A rider broke his jaw when his brakes seized and caused him to stop suddenly flinging him forward haway from his bike

    Check your bike thoroughly after every ride.  But sometimes you never know when the part will fail.

The deaths herein mentioned does not include deaths from riding in tandem, the death squads and the likes of Von Tanto who figured in a fisticuff with a biker from Quiapo but raced back to get even with bullets.

So pray;  ingat mga kapadyak.  Let the govt keep the road in tip top shape, build more bike lanes, legislate biker friendly laws

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