Bikers lead initiative to lend bikes for frontliners in COVID-19 crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 24) – As all forms of mass transportation were stopped due to the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon brought by COVID-19, frontline workers are finding it hard to get to their places of work.

Mark Narag, who lives in Pandacan, Manila and works as a discharge officer at the Philippine General Hospital, is faced with this dilemma.

On a usual day, he would take a jeepney from Pandacan to PGH, a trip that usually takes 20 minutes.

“When the ban on all forms of transport was implemented, I started to walk from my house ‪at 7:15 a.m.‬ I have to walk fast so that I can reach my office on time. I was at PGH ‪at around 7:55 a.m.‬,” narrated Narag, who works ‪from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.‬ at the government’s hospital’s charity ward.

His workmate added him in a Facebook group where frontliners like him could borrow a bike for their work travel.

Biker Carlo Carlon and his fellow cycling enthusiasts came up with the idea to help frontliners like Narag to go to work.

This led to the Lend-A-Bike project which aims to provide bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation for frontliners, especially health workers.

“Many of our health workers and frontliners have to walk long hours just to get to their work or to go back home,” said Carlon, who has been biking for 21 years now.

Carlon’s initiative started last March 17, the second day of the full implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

“The initial plan was just to have this within my friends in the cycling community. However, after 2 days only, I got hundreds of requests to provide bikes for our health workers and frontliners,” narrated Carlon, who owns a bike shop in Cainta, Rizal.

The influx of requests led to the creation of a Facebook group, where bike lenders and borrowers converge. The group now has 1,152 members as of this writing. Narag is one of them.

Carlon admitted he is not able to track the total number of transactions made because of the many requests. But he said more than 50 bikes were lent to frontliners since the start of the quarantine.

“It started in Metro Manila but recently, I have seen posts in the group involving requests from Iloilo, Laguna, Bulacan and other provinces,” said Carlon.

“My former classmate lent his bike to me without hesitation. I even went to his house in Sampaloc to get the bike and personally thank him for his help,” Narag said.

Carlon, who also vlogs about his cycling trips, is overwhelmed about the outcome of his idea.

“I didn’t expect this initiative to grow this fast and this big. But at the same time, I’m challenged to seek patnerships and employ a better system of lending and borrowing so that we can provide more bikes to those in need at these difficult times of our country,” said Carlon.

Their group is creating a mobile application of Lend-A-Bike project to reach more frontliners during the quarantine.

Carlon added, “we are starting to create the database now. Hopefully, we can launch the app or program very soon to help lenders.”

Narag thanked those who are behind the Lend-A-Bike project.

“This project unites us frontliners and those who want to help us in this time of need by lending their bikes to us so that we can fulfill our duty to the nation. We see each other’s heroism despite the crisis,” said Narag.

Interested lenders and borrowers must sign up in this form to track them in their transactions.

Bike lenders must fill up the Lender Agreement Form of the project for documentation purposes.

Borrowers should sign and print the Lender Agreement Form and give it to the lender. A photocopy of a valid ID of the borrower must also be attached in the form. Borrowers must also send their form to the The Cyclelogist Facebook page or to thecyclelogist@gmail.com.