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Bikes to the rescue

Bike owners connect with health workers in need

In a time when transportation becomes critical for health frontliners who need to keep working during the community quarantine situation, bike groups are stepping up to ease challenges faced in daily commutes.

One notable contribution is an initiative led by Eduardo Martin Zaldivar. A mechanical engineer by day and an all around cyclist, Zaldivar created a platform that utilizes his bike shop EZ Ride Bike.

He mounted a lend-a-bike initiative that follows similar formats by other cycling groups in the country.

“It is an effort involving bike owners and groups and I think what is worth highlighting is the bayanihan aspect of it,” he said in this Mindanao Times interview. “Lend A Bike Project – Davao Chapter serves as a platform to connect volunteers who can lend their bicycles to frontliners in need.

There is collaboration from top to bottom, according to Zaldivar.

He and his bike friends in the city and online (like Carlo Carlon of Cyclogist in Manila) would consult each other and share best practices that allow them to manage lenders and borrowers with ease. From there, they created a system that connects more people who can contribute to the project and also reach others who could benefit from it.

The need Zaldivar is addressing stemmed from a personal, yet relatable experience.

“I am a husband to a kind doctor. In our conversations, my wife would always mention the difficulties of hospital workers to commute between home and work,” he said. “Challenges persist everyday: from lack of public transport to outright discrimination while commuting in jeepneys or taxis. From there we thought of an idea to lend bikes from my bike shop to essential workers for a simple purpose: to lessen, even just a bit, the difficulties faced by a health worker.”

From there, he started spreading the word through his bike’s Facebook page. It didn’t take long for five bikes to be shared to ward aides, nurses, medical technologists to three different hospitals in Davao City.

“People started to gain interest. The demand for bike requests went up. But then I had to close shop in support of the community quarantine,” he said.

As time went by more bike lenders have met with borrowers, and a number of bikes are already in the care of some hospital workers. The Facebook Group “Lend A Bike Project – Davao Chapter” has over 500 members since its creation last March 29. Zaldivar is happy about it.

“For the most part, this project has shed light on the transportation situation of our medical professionals. To an extent, the project became more than just about the bikes. It allowed people to acknowledge and support our tired (and tire-less, because of lack of transportation options) workers who are manning the fort and fighting against this disease,” he said.

Zaldivar hopes for the project to continue catching on.

“I pray for more bike lenders and I’m hoping to connect them with more people who need wheels,” he said.

He is hopeful that bicycles can create impact in society.

“I have always believed in the humble yet important role of bicycles. I am passionate about bike commuting and the good it brings us: low carbon footprint, health benefits, and the part it plays in small and medium enterprises,” he said.

“I advocate for bicycle-friendly roads. As a cyclist, I dream of a city where riding a bike is a viable alternative transport. With bike lanes and signs encouraging people to pedal more and drive less,” he said.

For now, the bikes are going the extra mile to help the city and its health workers deal with the pandemic one ride at a time.

To be a part of the project as a borrower or as a lender, please connect with the Facebook Group: Facebook.com/groups/lendabikedavao/

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