Celebrity biking enthusiasts Kim Atienza and Gretchen Ho do not believe it is safe for the national government to require bike riders to wear both face masks and shields in public to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“Talagang di safe iyan kasi, alam mo naman, di ba pati sa pag-angkas lang iyang plastik-plastik di talaga nakakatulong (It is not safe. Even the use of plastic barriers on motorcycles was not helpful),” Ho said.
Atienza was even more emphatic, saying: “Cyclists are already physically distanced. Mayroon na silang mask, mayroon pa silang shield. Baka himatayin na iyong mga cyclists na pumupunta sa trabaho. (They already have masks, now they must wear shields. They might faint while going to work.)
“Baka himatayin iyan sa daan at masagasaan ng bus sa hirap ng ginagawa ninyo. (They might faint on the road and ran over by a bus with the hardship you are giving them.) Having a face shield, they might die.”
Ho and Atienza made their sentiments known during an online press launch of a virtual a cycling event recently, of which they were attached as goodwill ambassadors, along with actor Zoran Legaspi.
“It is already difficult to race with a mask. Now the face shield. I don’t know how I am going to do it,” explained Atienza, a newscaster and nature advocate, who is also into triathlon and duathlon.
He said he has been riding 40 to 50 kilometers thrice a week amid the pandemic, usually around the Mall of Asia area in Pasay City.
“Kuya Kim” said the number of cyclists in the country has swelled more than “10 times than usual numbers since the pandemic. Cycling has become a way of life for some people to commute because they don’t want to take public transport.
“They don’t like to use public transport because it is more prone to the COVID-19 infection due to the lack of proper physical distancing. They include some of our frontliners who go to work daily,” he said.
Atienza reiterated “that you can’t be shoulder-to-shoulder when you are racing. There is proper physical distancing. You might trip or stumble in racing close together.”
“OK lang kung malamig ang panahon. But when you cycle uphill ka na, pagod ka na, hindi ka na makahinga. (When you cycle uphill, you’re tired and can hardly breathe.) Omigosh! I think that rule of should be amended to exclude cyclists,” he added.
Ho, a former star volleyball player turned sportscaster and host, realized how huge the local cycling community has become after taking up biking recreationally, eventually giving away more than 1,100 bikes for free.
“We were able to give more than 1,100 bikes, some in Tuguegarao in Cagayan. This is where I realized that they were not only for health and fitness but also as means of livelihood,” she said.
On the other hand, Legaspi said that he made an improvised face mask attached to his cycling helmet to comply with the new ruling of the Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the virus crisis.
Atienza said he was appealing to one of the key IATF members, Bases Conversion Development Authority president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon, “who I know is an avid cycling enthusiast.”
“I’m not sure if he is aware of this new rule. I trust he will be able to hear us and amend it to exempt cyclists,” Atienza said.