Riding on the Winds of Change
You get an unmistakable sense of passion to evoke change when you speak with Firefly Brigade founder Katti Sta. Ana. Bikes, she says, is the chosen vehicle for change and a better world.
And her words carry substance. “Since 1999, the Firefly Brigade has been promoting the bicycle for clean air and sustainable communities,” shares Sta. Ana. “In many ways, this volunteer organization contributed to encouraging more people to get on bicycles.”
Firefly Brigade’s advocacy, however, does not end here. Sta. Ana says the group is also vocal in urging the government to address pollution, congestion, and integrate the bicycle in national and local development programs.
“In the course of this advocacy work, it has successfully contributed to the development of the bicycle industry and businesses in the country and has also added to the popularity of bicycling not only as a sport but as transport and pleasurable daily activity,” she adds.
Indeed, the Firefly Brigade movement has grown, as exhibited by the Tour of Fireflies (a fun ride of cyclists of all ages donning nature-inspired costumes as they parade through Metro Manila), which had less than 300 participants in 1999. The last edition had over 14,000 participants.
“We are composed of like-hearted and like-minded people from a diverse set of backgrounds and abilities,” says Firefly Brigade president Jack Yabut.
“So both newbies and veterans can find a riding mate or someone to argue with,” Yabut says. “Seriously, though, joining the Firefly Brigade allows one to be part of change and spread the infectious love for bicycling.”
Helping make a better world through the joys of biking is something you have no choice but to agree with.
Firefly Brigade Projects and Activities:
- Monthly Critical Mass Rides (CMR), regular rides in various cities in Metro Manila to get more people on the saddle and promote cycling in each locality;
- Project R.A.C.K. (Raising Awareness, Capacities and Knowledge-sharing for the promotion of bicycle use in the Metro) – Awarding and donation of bicycle racks to city halls and government institutions;
- Lobbying for bicycle parking and spaces in commercial establishments;
- Bike Clinics, Firefly Flight Training (FFT), and Marshal Training Rides that teach people to ride safely in urban roads as well as to develop members and engage volunteers;
- Recycle A Bicycle (RAB) – gathering donated parts and/or bicycles and granting these resurrected bikes to needy communities, commuters, and students;
- Cycling Convergence: Festival of Fireflies – a recent project aimed at gathering cyclists and partners in the public and private sector to celebrate and share their practice, advocacy and success;
- Working towards the establishment of cycle-inclusive urban and regional planning;
- Campaigning for road sharing;
- Conducting Non-motorized Transportation (NMT) forum and linkages with government agencies to promote the NMT agenda; and
- Kitang-Kita ang Bisikleta (KKB) – promoting visibility and safety for cyclists through Bike Clinics and Night Rides