While walking down Bonifacio High Street (BHS) today, a rainy Sunday, I was surprised to see that there were empty docking bays at the Tutubi bicycle rack placed at 9th Avenue of BHS. Really? Tutubi bikes were ready to use already? I used them a few times when they were located at the Stopover Pavilion at 31st Street, but had not tried them after they were relocated to BHS.
Luckily for me, I had the Tutubi card with me. I was prepared to be disappointed when I tapped a bicycle bay with the card, because the Tutubi bicycle rack had moved there for a while without being plugged in, but to my delight, I heard the talking voice of Tutubi's computer system. At first, it muttered something I could not hear and the bicycle was not released. Then I tried again, and I heard the bike lock clicked, so I removed the bicycle from the bay successfully, yehey!
My original destination was a shop on BHS, so I rode the bicycle for a short distance, parked it at a green bike rack, and did my planned shopping. I could have done that on foot, but riding a bike was fun, and saved a few seconds for this short trip. I wanted more. My other destinations before heading home were both within walking distance. One was Central Square at BHS, the other was the supermarket at Forbestown Road.
So, instead of returning the bike to the rack, my plan became that of going to Central Square, and then, if necessary, proceeding to Forbestown. After that, I would drop the shopping at home, and then return the bike to BHS. I knew that there were bicycle racks near my destinations, so that was one thing I did not have to worry about.
Riding the Tutubi was easy. Yes, it is a heavy bike, and I would not go anywhere that would require me to lift it up. It was also not designed to have a second seat for an additional passenger. But it was light to pedal, even without changing gears, which it has three. It also has a ringer on the left handle. And of course, the built-in lock with cable was very handy. In fact, with its bulk, one could lock the bike on its own wheels and not have to worry much about it being stolen, unless someone comes prepared with a cable cutter. Since the Tutubi bicycles borrowed from BGC are only allowed to move within BGC, the chances of them getting stolen is quite low to begin with.
What about the little adventure? There are no secret hideaways in BGC, so the adventure was not in discovering new places. Actually, I found my little adventure within Central Square mall. This place is usually just like a regular mall, but last weekend, something less regular happened there.
I tasted a concoction that looked like blood, sipped moonshine that had 40% alcohol, and scooped up some ice cream that was made with 40% tilapia (yes, tilapas fish). And all that in a span of less than 30 minutes.
Normally, I would not go so wild on a Sunday. I would have hesitated in trying unusual stuff offered to me on the street for free. But I had my Tutubi bicycle. Somehow it elevated my adrenalin. And combined with the fact that they were part of the Harvest Festival sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. I felt bold.
When I left the mall, I found myself carrying a bag of mushroom growing material, a tin of expensive leaves, a packet of beef jerk, some tomatos and other items in my backpack. I would normally not do so much shopping. I guess that is the downside of having a bicycle, which allows me to save time, and when the bicycle also has a basket, how can I not shop?
I returned the bicycle to its rack in BHS at around 8pm, a little later than I had originally planned, because I decided to use it to go to dinner in Forbes Town Road after I dropped off my shopping at home. Locking the Tutubi bicycle is sometimes tricky, and this time, it took me more than ten minutes because the system could not be triggered easily. With the help of the security guard, we parked the bicycle in another slot, and managed to trigger the system by pushing the bicycle in hard. I was relieved to hear the now familiar voice of the system asking me to swipe the card to complete the bike return process.
Riding the Tutubi bicycle is certainly fun for the rider on a Sunday when traffic is light. It provides me an alternative way to keep fit, and gives me more time to get things done, or shop more. It is a quality of life thing.
From the view of Tutubi providers, what is in it for them? In a bigger picture, does a bicycle sharing scheme contribute anything to the society as a whole, so that it can justify the public resources put into it? Well, my trip did not replace a trip in a car, since the distance was short, and I would have walked anyway. So I cannot say that it reduced my carbon footprint. If there are bike racks at two ends of BGC, for example, that allows people living in the residential area in Crescent Park West district to have lunch in SM Aura, or for residents in Serendra to meet a friend in Burgos Circle for lunch, instead of riding in a private car, then the environmental benefit would be obvious.
Indeed, when we look at cars on the road, many are occupied by only the driver. If we can replace each of those cars with a shared bicycle, then the Tutubi scheme would be a worthwhile one. If someone lives in Bonifacio Ridge, for example, and usually takes a taxi or drives a car to go to work in SM Aura, can be enticed to switch to a Tutubi bicycle instead, then the scheme can be sustained. Or, if the scheme can be extended to reach the edge of EDSA where the commuting demand is strong, then there will be higher utilization of the shared bicycles.
Right now, I am just happy that I have a bicycle to ride on weekends within Bonifacio Global City.
The bloody colored Hibiscus tea was tasty. A little sour, and a little sweet.
Moonshine by Barik Supremo is a hard liquor.
Tilapia ice cream tastes like regular ice cream.