I have been discriminated against in the past for using my bike to go to restaurants, drugstores, groceries, and other establishments. The security guards would always drive me away from parking in front of or near their establishments. This was pre-pandemic days.
But now that the pandemic has turned the bicycle into one of the preferred modes of transportation by a lot of people, several business establishments and institutions have accepted this two-wheeled machine as part of the new normal. Recently, I have seen restaurants, fast food chains, groceries, drugstores, and other establishments providing parking racks for their customers.
Businesses should realize that biking is no longer exclusive to hobbyists. It has become the mode of transport for a lot of our health-workers, frontliners , and other workers. And this should not be limited to businesses. Even places of worship should adjust to this new reality.
Late this afternoon, I decided to attend the 5:00 PM mass with my bike. I would be hitting two birds with one stone: I get to exercise and also get to worship. I biked to the Christ the King Parish, more popularly known here in our area as Church in the Sky—because it is located on top of a hill.
When I arrived at the gate of the church after a punishing climb, the guard, a man in his mid-fifties, stopped me and told me I could not proceed inside because there was a mass going on. I politely told him that I was there actually to attend mass. But he responded that I am not allowed to enter because I was biking. He pointed to the signage saying, "NO FACEMASK, NO JOGGING, NO BIKING". I replied that the biking stated in the signage is for leisure biking—since the place is a popular destination for cyclists because of its challenging elevation. But still, he did not budge.
I pleaded with him to allow me to just say a prayer—instead of attending the mass. Begrudgingly, he agreed but he told me to park my bike outside the gate of the church premises. I asked if I can park inside the church premises where the motorcycles were parked. He insisted I park outside. But fearing that in case of loss he can simply deny accountability, since my bike was parked outside of church premises, I insisted on parking it inside together with the motorcycles.
At that point, the guard told me I was not following their rules. Then I asked him: "Kuya, kung naka-kotse ako papapasukin mo ako?" He said, “Syempre.”
And then I asked: “Pero ngayong naka-bike ako hindi mo ako papapasukin?" He replied again, "Oo!"
I told him to extend a little consideration for me since I won't stay long anymore and I won't be taking much of a space for parking. I quickly said my prayers and prepared to leave. As I was about to get my bike, the guard approached me and apologized. I admonished him to be more Christian-like in his attitude towards other people because he is working in a place of worship.
I hope churches and other places of worship will realize that biking has become a choice of transport for some people. They should accommodate and not discriminate against people who choose to ride the bike to go to church—which is supposed to be a sanctuary for the faithful.