The Bike Scouts community uses bicycles and social teamwork to deliver help, hope, and courage wherever we ride! We’re also the only Volunteer Bicycle Messenger service for disaster response that has been at the frontlines of almost every major disaster in our communities since 2013.
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Typhoon Yolanda Response
Bike Scouts was founded on the day that Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the Philippines in November 2013. With an initial 200 members Bike Scouts met at the Makati City office of Specialized Bicycles in the Philippines and within 48 hours teams of Bike Scouts were on the ground in Tacloban City in Leyte Island and also in Samar Province where the storm made landfall. Bike Scouts teams are the only Volunteer Bicycle Messenger service for disaster response in the world, partnered with the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), UNOCHA, Philippine Business for Social Progress, WeRobotics – Philippine Flying Labs and with the support of brands like Decathlon among others.
During the Typhoon Yolanda response Bike Scouts teams rode a cummulative average of hundreds of kilometers per day to provide access to supplies and an alternative means of communication for people and places that were isolated by the storm. In fact, a good part of the information from ground zero that was uploaded online to services like Google Person Finder came from Bike Scouts teams on the ground that worked there for almost four months until regular communications was restored. For the past eight years since then, Bike Scouts teams, volunteers, and our growing community have been present in almost all major disaster events in the Philippines providing help, hope, and a means of local support for people that need immediate information or assistance. See more of the work of Bike Scouts during the Typhoon Yolanda response by getting a copy of our Typhoon Yolanda Photobook!
Bike Scouts Borongan has successfully helped make Borongan a bicycle mobility city by creating a genuine collaboration between the Bike Scouts, the local community, and city leaders. The Bike Scouts also helped connect The City of Borongan with our partners from the Embassy of Denmark in the Philippines who organized a Mobility Webinar called “The Future of Mobility” together with mobility and design experts Marianne Weinreich of Ramboll Group, a leading engineering, architecture and consultancy company in Denmark, and Lasse Schelde, CEO of Moving Spaces, Board member Cycling Embassy of Denmark, Architect, Urban Planner, sustainable mobility expert and Co-founder of Bicycle Innovation Lab. Borongan City is now in the process of implementing the inclusions of the bicycle mobility city ordinance that the Bike Scouts helped create. The city recently helped organize an event to promote the concept of “Share The Road” attended by all the cycling groups and bicycle commuters in their community. The work continues, and the next step for Bike Scouts Borongan. East Samar is the province-wide adoption of the bicycle mobility initiative which is now under consideration by the office of the Provincial Governor and the Provincial Council. Latest Update:The Bike Scouts bicycle initiative in Easter Samar, Philippines was approved 17 October 2020. Eastern Samar is now the first place in the Philippines to achieve province-wide adoption of bicycle mobility. See allproject updates!
Language and Culture Exchange
Bike Scouts recently partnered with the Akita Inaka School of Japan to bring aspects of Japanese language and culture to the Bike Scouts community to learn more about people and cultures that practice a strong sense of community and sense of responsibility for others – the qualities that the Bike Scouts community itself is based upon. By learning the language Bike Scouts can understand better the context of the cultural influences that help make Japan more adaptive to natural disasters through commmunity habits and instincts that evolved over many generations. The hope is that the Bike Scouts can absord the positive things from the learning experience and understand how they can practiced in the daily lives of Bike Scouts wherever they are. The Akita Inaka School works to provide the most immersive language & cultural experience to its students through actual community experience in Akita Prefecture (秋田県), Japan.
The Midnight Ride – Gift Deliveries for homeless children
Every year, the Bike Scouts ride out at midnight on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to homeless children and their families. In spite of its theme and timing, the Midnight Ride is not a religious event. It’s the Bike Scouts’ way of bringing joy to the less fortunate children that have to spend Christmas on the streets in a country like the Philippines where it’s hard not to notice the Christmas season. Most of the time, children on the streets will gather outside shopping malls, churches, and other places where families spend their time shopping or celebrating the season hoping to get money or food from people as they pass by. The Midnight Ride is a way for Bike Scouts members to give back to their own communities by making sure that even those who have less in life will not feel forgotten on such a meaningful time of the year. WATCH the Midnight Ride video!
Community Support, School Supplies, and Bicycle Donations
The Covid Pandemic has caused far-reaching challenges for a lot of people for the long term – especially those that are affected by disasters. Bike Scouts teams have been responding to a large number of disaster events including typhoons and floods in Eastern Samar and other places. One of the most immediate needs are food and medicine, and Bike Scouts has been doing its best to source and provide these needs to as many people as possible. However, the support that’s needed goes beyond just one day or a few weeks, people need help to survive while they have no options so that they will be able to help themselves when there is an opportunity for them. We are looking for donations of biscuits, canned food, packed noodles, rice, powdered milk, 3-in-1 coffee, powdered chocolate drink, diapers, feminine hygiene products and other essentials. Equally important at this time is support for schools and students in the forms of office materials like bond paper, printer ink, desktop printers, bicycles for mobility and others.
Bike Scouts Bicycle Library
The Bike Scouts is maintaining a stock of books collected during the pandemic that will be distributed to selected communities through a Bookcase Library concept – an extension of the regular Bike Scouts mobile (bicycle) library. Bike Scouts is constantly looking for donations of high-quality reading materials, specifically story books and books with high-educational value, and also crayons and paper stock (pad paper or bond paper) for library activities. The Bike Scouts bicycle library is made possible by generous book donors such as READ Philippines of Alberta, Canada that has been a partner of the Bike Scouts bicycle library for many years. Bike Scouts has also helped set up community libraries around the Philippines and have assisted in other library projects such as the Globalgiving.org supported initiative for Typhoon Yolanda survivors.
Batanes Islands Water Supply
Itbayat Island has been experiencing a severe water shortage because of drought caused by a lack of rain. There are water sources on the island that can be tapped to supply local need and the original plan was just to provide basic materials to extract the water. However, the cost and distance of the initiative makes it more practical now to provide a more long-term solution that can be pre-positioned for a similar crisis in the future. Bike Scouts is currently working to deliver available materials as soon as additional equipment and supplies can be sourced and delivered to make this possible. Project timeline will be announced as soon as supplies are confirmed.
Cycling Route Mapping
The Bike Scouts is officially partnered with SmartCT Citizens x Technology based in Manila and San Francisco (USA) and other technical partners in creating a database of bicycle routes, road safety requirements, and potential risks even before the Covid pandemic. We are working to come up with a plan that will allow us to safely restart this program and continue the work of collecting data. The information that we gather will be used to inform our policy and design initiatives related to sustainable mobility and disaster response, it will be used to produce visualizations that will help the public understand the information better and be able to use it in their everyday lives.
Road Safety Education and Training
Bike Scouts is partnered with the Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Red Cross, and the UP Resilience Institute in creating an educational and training platform for road safety and emergency response skills for people who ride bicycles for mobility. The main goal of the project is to create a contact point between the public and the information and skills that they need to be safe on the road while cycling. This project is also made possible through the technical support of the Embassy of The Netherlands in the Philippines and the Embassy of Denmark in Manila and their respective partners in the Philippines as well as in The Netherlands and Denmark related to bicycle culture, urban design, road safety infrastructure, and other matters essential to bicycle mobility.
Disaster Response Training (Deployment Team)
Training and certification for the Bike Scouts deployment team (Volunteer Bicycle Messengers/ Pathfinder) is currently on hold until there is clearance from medical experts that it’s safe to organize public events that require close contact. As of now, the work is focused on gathering support for the material needs of the deployment team as well as expanding the membership of the Bike Scouts community to have a wider selection pool for this specialized work. Bike Scouts Pathfinder works with Zion Emergency and Disaster Response Unit (ZEDRU) as its technical training partner, Philippine Flying Labs/WeRobotics for its drone operations ethics and techincal training, UNOCHA for humanitarian coordination, and Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT) is partnered with the Bike Scouts Signal Team for radio and satellite communications.
Disaster & Emergency Response
Covid-19 Pandemic Response
At the start of 2020 the Covid-19 global pandemic occured. The infection started in Wuhan, China at a food market that sold exotic animals for human consumption, according to initial reports. Specifically, reports mentioned the possibility that the virus came from a bat that had been cooked in a soup and served to customers at the market. The first human cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, subsequently named SARS-CoV-2 were first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. Retrospective investigations by Chinese authorities have identified human cases with onset of symptoms in early December 2019.
While some of the earliest known cases had a link to a wholesale food market in Wuhan, some did not. Many of the initial patients were either stall owners, market employees, or regular visitors to this market. Environmental samples taken from this market in December 2019 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, further suggesting that the market in Wuhan City was the source of this outbreak or played a role in the initial amplification of the outbreak. The market was closed on 1 January 2020, and from then on the virus went on to spread around the world. Scientific studies are still ongoing to determine the specific source of the viral infection. As of now, there are 36,002,827 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,049,810 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization Covid-19 Dashboard.
In the Philippines, there are 331,869 confirmed cases of Covid-19 (as of October 9, 2020) and over 6,000 deaths. The local response has been to lock down cities and towns across the country resulting in one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in the world related to the pandemic. As a result, people have lost their means to make a living or, in the case of Medical Frontliners, they’ve lost their means of transportation to get to work in the hospitals, labs, and other similar facilities where the important work of handling the crisis is being done.
In response, Bike Scouts have been working as a community to provide bicycles as a means of mobility for frontliners and food and medicine for people that were isolated by the lockdowns. The work still continues to day, and the Bike Scouts community is still working together to help find solutions to everyday problems and the impact of the crisis on a national scale.
Batanes Search and Rescue
A fishing boat from Basco and Uyugan in Batanes Islands went missing on Thursday, 22 August. The boat’s crew was composed of Tinong Alviso (45 years old), Antonio Lizardo (53 years old), and Eduardo Elica (35 years old), they were last seen at 11PM between Siayan and Itbayat Islands by Byron Peralta of Bike Scouts BATANES who managed to hand the missing fishermen his handheld radio before heading to Dinem Island (Diogo) to seek shelter from large waves. The other boat that went missing was supposed to head towards Mavudis Island and seek shelter there.
However, the boat never returned to port even after a few days and had never made contact with anyone. Byron had instructed the crew of the missing boat to contact him on channel 8, or change to channel 16 if they need help from a passing ship. By then, the families of the missing fishermen had posted to Facebook about asking for help in finding their missing relatives. Byron reported the incident to Bike Scouts and the process to connect with the Philippine Coastguard, Navy, and Air Force in coordination with provincial government of Batanes, Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (formerly connected with the Philippines’ Office of Civil Defense), Cagayan Disaster Coordinating Council, and later on the Taiwan Coastguard.
For seven days since the fishermen were last seen an NC212i aircraft flew SARO flights over Mavudis Island and other nearby areas together with a Beechcraft King Air C90 and an Islander aircraft. Later on, the Taiwan National Rescue Command Center in partnership with the Taiwan Coastguard notified the Keelung Coastal Station in northern Taiwan, Kaohsiung fishery station, and Donggang fishery station in southern Taiwan to broadcast and request all the vessels to help search for the missing fishermen. The Taiwan Coastguard also instructed the 4 district commands located in southern and eastern Taiwan to task their coast guard duty patrol vessels to search the missing fishermen. In total, the Taiwan Coastguard deployed 4 cutters, 2 patrol boats, and 12 offshore boats with 273 coastguard crews onboard to help in the search for the missing fishermen.
After 7 days, the fishermen were finally found and rescued in Dinem Island off the southeastern coast of Itbayat Island where they had managed to sail during the severe weather that prevented them from returning to Basco. Their boat sank near Dinem when their anchor line broke because of the size of the waves and all three crew members were forced to abandon the boat and swim to shore.