Bike Messengers in Manila, Philippines

Here is an article I got off the messengers list from Mr. White of Dublin.

In a very unpopular city for cyclists, one company is having a go at messengering:

Quick, Chic and Earth-Friendly

By Eric S. Caruncho
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: January 02, 2010

BIKE messengers?
Maybe you’ve seen Kevin Bacon on a track bike in khaki slacks and a beret-racing Laurence Fishburne through the mean streets of Manhattan in “Quicksilver” (1986).

Or, if you’re not that old school, Jessica Alba as Max riding a Cannondale for the “Jam Pony” courier service in television’s “Dark Angel.”

In the West, at least, bike messengers have been pop culture icons since the 1980s, when fashion designers took note of their distinctively idiosyncratic sartorial style. Born of the practical demands of riding a bicycle in the city for a living, messengers combined cycling-specific gear with thrift-shop finds for a look that oozed authentic urban style. Despite the sharp decline in the demand for actual bike couriers with the advent of the fax machine and e-mail, bike courier style has persisted, leading to the current trend of the “fakenger” or the “posenger” – kids trying to pull off the look with the right bike, the right messenger bag, the right clothes – to the amusement or derision of real messengers.

In Metro Manila – surely one of the least bike-friendly cities in the world – things couldn’t be more different. The mere idea of riding a bike in the scorching summer sun or through torrential rain, not to mention having to dodge jeepneys, buses and road-raging motorists bent on vehicular homicide, is enough to deter all but the most hardcore riders.

Survival, not style, is usually uppermost in the minds of the city’s riders.

And yet, despite these difficulties, a small start-up company is thriving by offering same-day delivery services – by bicycle.

“When gas prices started rising in 2008, I started cycling,” says Candy Reyes, a member of the UP Mountaineers, a club of outdoor enthusiasts based in the University of the Philippines. “I bought a bike and stopped using my car as often. My sister had a business, Messy Bessy, making organic household cleaning products and she needed someone to deliver them to her customers.”

Being keen on the whole clean and green thing, Reyes thought the delivery service should be environment-friendly as well, so she hit upon the idea of Pedala Bike Messengers Inc., a bicycle courier service. As a UP Mountaineer, she was steeped in the advocacy of bicycles as a pollution-free alternative transport. The organization has ties to the Firefly Brigade, a group of cycling advocates, and runs Padyak, a bicycle rental service for UP students.

“We really based the idea of Pedala on the Manhattan and London bike messengers,” she says.

The two cities have the largest number of working bike messengers in the world for several reasons: they have a dense population, busy business districts, and high traffic congestion that makes the bicycle the fastest vehicle from point to point.

Metro Manila has a similar profile: high population density, numerous commercial districts in different locations, terrible traffic. The one difference is that in Metro Manila, the motorcycle is the fastest vehicle from point to point. But Reyes was determined not to add to the city’s already toxic emissions level, so it had to be bicycles.

“Our competition was not other bicycle couriers but other delivery services like Air21. But the fastest they can deliver is the next day,” says Reyes. “We offer same-day delivery service which no one else offers.”

Pedala’s motto? “Delivery without the fumes.” With world attention focused on global warming, thanks to the Copenhagen summit on climate change, more and more countries are exploring ways of cutting their emissions. The bicycle is undergoing a serious reexamination as an alternative form of transportation. (During the Copenhagen summit, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology even unveiled a bike that conserves the rider’s energy.)

Pedala’s business model is right in line with this kind of thinking. Cycling is all about the carbon footprint, not the carbon fiber.
“We’re offering an alternative to existing delivery services,” say Reyes. “We’re a little more expensive, but we’re faster, and by choosing Pedala you’re also making a choice for the environment.”

It’s a relatively simple operation. Reyes fields calls from her Quezon City home, which also serves as the hub for Pedala’s pool of riders. Communicating by mobile phone and text, they are able to cover most of Metro Manila, with occasional forays beyond for bulk deliveries. Messengers ride their own bikes, and get 60 per cent of the delivery charge, plus whatever tips customers give.

In the little over a year that Pedala has been in existence, it has found its own niche within Metro Manila. Despite the prevalence of fax and e-mail, there are still a myriad items that need to be delivered by hand: legal documents, invitations, merchandise, perishable and fragile items, gifts. There is a surprising amount of personal deliveries, including requests from people who’ve left cellphones or wallets at home. Some corporate clients use Pedala to supplement their own messengerial services.

Part of Pedala’s appeal is the human touch: customers often meet face-to-face with the person making the delivery, so special requests can be made, which the riders try to accommodate as best they can. In a few short months, the service has begun to receive favorable word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.

Reyes see’s Pedala as “social entrepreneurship”: “I wouldn’t have gone into the bike messenger business if it didn’t support my advocacy.” In return, many members of the environmental community, such as Greenpeace, the Firefly Brigade, the Center for Clean Air and Bantay Kalikasan use Pedala for their messengerial needs.

At present, Pedala maintains a pool of 15 riders.
“We have full-time riders and part-time riders who work only on weekends. They work their day jobs Monday to Friday and want to do something on the weekends that will provide some exercise and allow them to earn at the same time.”

And some, like Eric Sajorda, are in it for the mileage.

A chemist by profession and mountain bike racer by inclination, Sajorda found his working hours cut drastically in the aftermath of the recession. Pedala offered the perfect solution, allowing him to log an average of 80 training kilometers a day, 400 a week, in the course of making deliveries. His current record is 18 deliveries in one day.

Sajorda’s work bike is a cheap department store mountain bike, set up with a rear rack and panniers for holding his parcels. He saves his good bike and his weekends for offroad rides with his buddies and the occasional cross country race events.

Of course, riding for Pedala is no Sunday stroll. Couriers still need to deal every day with the same hassles that face normal bike riders: hostile motorists, air pollution, the lack of bike parking facilities, and the occasional theft. One of Pedala’s couriers recently had a P40,000 bike stolen while making a delivery, in spite of the fact that it was locked in a guarded area.

As for style, no one would mistake one of Pedala’s riders as a fashion icon. Sajorda, for instance, rides in a bright fluorescent yellow Pedala jersey, the better to be seen by motorists. Yellow arm warmers ward off sunburn, and baggy shorts of his own design provide comfort on the bike and off.

“The city isn’t bike friendly, but slowly people are becoming more conscious of cycling as alternative transport,” says Reyes. “Some cities have built bike lanes, some malls are now offering bike parking, and recently the LRT announced that it is allowing folding bikes on its trains.”

In its own way, Pedala is contributing to that awareness. Recently, a similar venture patterned after Pedala has reportedly begun offering bicycle delivery services in Cebu City. •

Contact Pedala by text (+639206987777) or e-mail (

Climate SOS

Judging by what happened in Copenhagen during the multilateral talks of COP15 and continued negotiations of the Kyoto Treaty, the worlds leaders methods of dealing with the crisis is to give them a free pass to pollute. Our supposed leaders in their infinite wisdom don’t want to piss off their corporate backers and find renewable sources of energy like all of the worlds scientists are urging for. Instead they’d rather find ways to continue to drill for oil and pay off the poorer nations for their moronic destruction of the one palace we all live, maybe you heard of it…planet Earth.

The madness is continuing here in NYC with the Carbon Trade Summit.

Got word there will be talks and demonstrations. More info at Counter Carbon Trade Summit

also got this info from facebook:

“On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be activities outside of the Carbon Trade Summit to demonstrate our resistance! Please join us and help grow a movement!

Tuesday at noon: Climate Scientist and outspoken critic of carbon trade, JAMES HANSEN will be joined by Father Paul Mayer, a leader of the religious community and co-founder of Climate Crisis Coalition, Cecil Corbin-Mark from West Harlem Environmental Action, and Charles Komanoff from the Carbon Tax Center. They will speak and deliver a letter to the chair of the carbon summit denouncing carbon trade.

Wednesday at noon: RALLY AND PROTEST with possible nonviolent civil disobedience! Time to make our message clearly heard inside the summit: carbon trade is a sham! We demand real solutions, not profiteering from crisis!

Both events are at the Irish Hunger Memorial, outside the Carbon Trade SUmmit in the Embassy SUites.

(Nearest stop: World Trade Center (E train): walk 1 block south to Vesey St., turn right (west), cross West St., and continue west past the Embassy Suites Hotel to the Irish Hunger Memorial.
OR: From Chambers St. station (A, C, 1, 2, 3): 5 short blocks south to Vesey St., continue as above.
OR: From City Hall station (R, W) or Park Place (2, 3): 2-3 blocks south to Vesey St., continue as above.”

Having a great time here in San Francisco

Got a rare opportunity to travel to a few cities for an IBM commercial. Had a brief time in Miami but didn’t get much time to explore other than a stroll along the beach.


Of course we picked the one day to shoot that was record cold and raining. Guess i didn’t need those short sleeves and shorts I packed. What was I thinking, Miami being warm?


Thanks to our amazing grip and electric crew of Ben Kanegson, Jimmy and Chris.

Now I’m in San Francisco and got a few days off.

Being in the land of the original critical mass, I knew the best way to get around was by bicycle so my first stop was to rent one at Pacific Bicycle.

Picture 2

I’m sure there are other places to rent bikes, but this was the closest shop to my hotel and I was in a hurry to get on bike.

Pacific Bicycle is a big shop which seem to cater to the roadie set, judging by the sweet Cervelos and swanky road bikes. They are located at: 345 4th Street, next to the whole foods. The rent hybrid bikes for $25.00 a day and will give you a prorated deal for the week. They give you a lock and helmet too.

I had a brief conversation with one of the friendly sales people there about riding in SF and bike security. Although most people seem to use U-locks it seems as if petty theft of parts not nailed down has gotten fairly common, not to mention the whole bike, even locked up. I’ve been using a cable and a u-lock and taking my seat inside but for the most part trying to take the bike in if its overnight.

Headed over to Chrome headquarters to see their operation. They’ve been making amazing messenger bags and gear for the urban biker for over 14 years and seem to be outfitting many of the SF bikers that I’ve seen riding around.


If you get the chance check them out there great store at 580 4th St.

Yesterday I rode around and meet up with Matthew Roth, former NYC Time’s up volunteer who moved out to SF to work as one of the main writers for SF Streetsblog.

Leanne was also in town from Time’s Up so we spent some time riding around the Mission.

Picture 3

Our goal was to go to the famous biker and cyclist bar Zeitgeist, where they let you bring your bike in the bar and park it in their big outdoor space. My good friend and film maker, Jesse Epstein, reminded me of a story when she went there a few years back. She was shooting the trailer for the Bicycle Film Festival with famous dj and freewheel hill bomber Ted Shred. The bouncer at the bar wouldn’t let her film there. They struck up a conversation and talked about this being for the bicycle film festival and that Jesse helped make the warriors documentary…”You made the warriors?” said the bouncer surprised…”Ok you can shoot in here.” The street cred lives.

Well it turns out Zeitgiest was closed for a staff party so I’ll have to go back there tonight.

Meanwhile Leanne, Matthew and I rode around and ended up at Docsclocks bar where we had some local infused vodka from Hangar one which is distilled here in town. I enjoyed the Buddha’s hand…yum!

Then we got some great burritos and fish tacos from Papalote, and meet a random stranger named: Rob Villanueva. We marveled at his sweet Colnago. Not a surprise to see a lot of nice rides here.

We hung out at Matthews place for a while and then took a walk up to the top of this massive hill in Bernal Heights. We got this amazing view of the city, which this low grade image does not justice.


In the daytime you can grab some images like this:
4062064398_0c01f12627_b(photo by Pterosaur Whisper’s)

After that things got kind of hazy. Matthew set our Burning Man fun meter to Max.

I think we had this really amazing spicy bloody mary at a place called El Rio

good times.

Twitter hits 1000

Sweet, I got over 1000 followers on my twitter page.

I hope I can give you something to follow.

Thanks for the interest

Congratulations on the winner of the ipod contest

Brian Griggs from Cleveland Ohio has won again! He won this weeks contest of the best mutant bike and scored again by having them involved in jousting:



He also wanted to include this photo to show off why his buddies bike is called the Mustache:


This means that Brian is the winner of the contest and will soon be receiving his 8 gig ipod touch loaded with the new app “TALL BIKE JOUST.”

Looks like Brian and his crew are building up quite a scene there in Cleveland and I’ll be sending him a few questions so we can get to find out whats happening over there and profile our contest winner.

Congratulations again Brian.

Stolen Bike Alert

Riyadh Drebika wrote me with some upsetting news:
“Got my bike stolen out of my apartment on Willoughby Ave at central Bushwick last night.”

The details from craig’s list:

Stolen large black Affinity Pursuit frame, Track Star build rear black Velocity wheel, large gauge silver spokes, formula double fixed black hub, clipless mountain bike petals, new Sugino 75 crank set, Bontrager stem, black Oury grips on cut down silver straight bars, front brake, black Knog Frog rear light zip tied under the seat. Bike stolen out of my apartment on Willoughby AVE, smash and grab. No questions asked reward. (some of the pix show different components)

Be on the lookout for this stolen bike and if you have any information contact Riyadh,

I heard about another website in NYC tracking stolen bikes…anyone know about this?

Tragedy strikes just day's after memorial ride.

Not more than 2 days after the 5th annual memorial ride in NYC which occurred last Sunday, I get tragic news from Bill DiPaola executive director of Time’s Up who was on the scene of an accident.

Looks as if a woman was killed by a large yellow school bus Eastbound on Delancey Street which occured around 4:00pm today.

Details are still coming in and there is already a report on Streets Blog from Ben Fried.

This Picture from WABC of an overhead shot of Delancey around Ludlow St.

I think its about time we get a bike lane on Delancey Street. Please feel free to comment on this.

The NY Post is reporting about this accident as well and with news that this is the third death today involving motor vehicles.

It’s really hard to imagine that only two days ago we were paying respects to the tragedies of 2009. I can’t believe I’m even putting this in the same posting but here is a report back from the memorial ride form Garret Mok, who braved the freezing temperatures and took photographs.

“Riders from Street Memorial Project, Time’s Up!, Transportation Alternatives, Five Borough Bicycle Club, Dykes on Bike-Cycles, Fast & Fabulous, and other cycling and bike advocacy groups showed up 3p at Grand Army Plaza to blowing snow for the Brooklyn leg of the memorial ride. Brooklyn has the six of the ten new ghosts bikes in NYC for 2009 (the eleventh was dedicated post-ride in Greenpoint Reformed Church), and was the last part of the day-long commemoration.

The first stop was in Park Slope for an unnamed rider on 5th Ave and Dean. The second stop was in Fort Greene for Julian Miller on Greene & Washington. Next we rode to Williamsburg Bridge for Dan Valle. Then to Moore & Bushwick for Eliseo Martinez, and Morgan & Harrison for Aurelio Perez. The last stop was in Greenpoint for Solange Raulston on Nassau & McGuinness. It was a somber, cold ride. By the time it ended, it was about low to mid-twenties. During the six stops, riders hurdled together for warmth and in sadness. When friends and family of the victims spoke in remembrance of their loved ones, everyone were invariably moved.”


See the full set of Garret’s pictures here.
Thanks for doing this Garret.

My condolences to all the grieving families of today’s tragedies. Those who have died senselessly on the streets.
Ride Safe.

Another facebook cyclist hate fan page.

I don’t know what’s more frightening, that I keep finding facebook groups like this:

Theres a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist or that they have 31,000 fans.


Meanwhile Gothamist has a report from this year’s Memorial ride.
“Yesterday a small but dedicated group of cyclists braved the brutal winter winds for the fifth annual Memorial Ride across Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn to dedicate eleven “Ghost Bikes.” The all-white bikes, a tragically common reminder of bicyclist fatalities, commemorate the estimated ten lives lost while bicycling in NYC during 2009. Linda Langergaard, whose son James Langergaard was killed biking across Queens Boulevard in August, said in a statement, “James was a wonderful part of so many lives and we miss him terribly. It hurts to know so many families are feeling the same loss as we are. It is so important that we come together to prevent these tragedies from ever happening to another family.”

read more here.

Bike Messenger Radio

Bike messenger radio now at TenNine They’ve got two shows already posted about bike messenger culture, Check it out.

ipod touch contest–Final week

This is the final week of the Ipod touch contest. We had a bit of an extension and I wanted to announce last week’s winner. Brian Griggs nailed it again:
pictures! 308
pictures! 307

I mean, come on. Not only is it a guy using an ipod, its on a tallbike…not only a tallbike, but a tallbike tandem. Sweet.

So Brian wins 1,000 points and the DVD of the documentary B.I.K.E, made by Fredric King which was a large inspiration for the new set to release Tall Bike Joust app/game.

So here is a recap of the points so far:

Brian Griggs has 2100 points
Kevin Dillard has 1000 points and
Ed Boyak has 100 points.

This brings us to the last week of the contest and a new theme. Its rather simple: Your best mutant bike. Send in a picture of your best mutant bike, chopper, tallbike…something you can’t even describe. 500 bonus points if this is involved in a joust.

Good Luck. The winner will be decided at the end of the week Sunday.