Chuck Baclagon

Democracy is powered by citizens exercising their values not only in the ballots, but also in the choices they make in the market and their participation in activities that they believe advances a common good.

Democracy also is extended when the market is responsive to the needs of citizens despite their primary pursuit of profit.

Most importantly, democracy is best expressed when governments recognize that their power only comes from the citizens who elected them to realize their best interests and aspirations. Who they are bound to represent under a social contract, so that government really does become one that is of the people. By the people. And for the people.

Democracy is the independent exercise of our will to be better as individuals and be better as a community through staking claim of issues that we believe will benefit the many.

Cycling is also people powered. The bicycle’s engine is the person riding it, and the fuel is the rider’s resolve to reach their destination.

Learning to ride a bicycle has been one of the most life-changing things for me — because it gave me freedom from traffic congestion while helping me build a healthier lifestyle and contribute to the reduction of air pollution.

It is in my love for cycling that I have also been involved in the work that calls on motorists to share the road, as well as to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative form of transportation to minimize our dependence on fossil-fueled vehicles.

Cycling, like democracy, is also about the freedom to move and the freedom to reach our destinies. However, that is far from what we have now.

It is unfortunate that our current transport system still adheres to a preferential option for private vehicles.

A study shows that 88% of Filipino households in Metro Manila and the Greater Manila Area do not own cars. Moreover, the community quarantines that came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the surge of people using bicycles to move around Metro Manila amidst the reduced volume of public transportation available.

Cycling is also an effective non-medical response to the immediate needs in this current crisis while at the same time has the co-benefit of building climate resilience and reducing carbon emissions.

Freedom is merely privilege extended unless it is enjoyed by everyone. Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are.

For everyone to have the freedom to move, we need to prioritize the needs of the majority who do not have cars.

Leadership is crucial for creating a policy environment that would pave the way for the long-term integration of inclusive mobility and sustainable transportation in the country. Government and the private sector needs to work with the citizenry to realize this vision.

This is why 350.org Pilipinas is co-organizing the Mobility Awards, with  Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC)MNL MovesThe Climate Reality Project (TCRP) Philippines and the Pinay Bike Commuter Community as  a platform for citizens to exercise their power to demand for better and safer streets and public transportation for all.

This inaugural round of the Awards aims to spur concerted action among government, commuters, and the private sector to make a bikeable Metro Manila by recognizing the most bike-friendly cities, workplaces, and commercial establishments in the metropolis.

Through the Mobility Awards, we hope to celebrate not only the freedom to move but also freedom from fossil-fueled development and ushering in  a just, prosperous, and equitable future built with the power of ordinary people.

Learn more about the Mobility Awards by visiting mobilityawards.ph