Traffic making you mad? Filipinos must be convinced to use bikes, says academic


Posted at Jun 03 2020 07:48 AM

MANILA—At a time when it’s become more frustrating to use public transportation, why not put together a national policy for biking and encourage people to pedal around?

The Ateneo de Manila University’s department of economics recommended exactly that, especially now when traveling during general quarantine conditions has become a calvary for millions of commuters and rules for biking are lacking. 

A policy brief written Genesis Kelly Lontoc pointed out the downsides of using cars, citing its harm to the economy and the environment. 

“In terms of health, (bicycle use) do not have harmful emissions unlike motorized vehicles. In terms of cost, regular bicycles are significantly cheaper than motorized vehicles. In terms of space in the road, bicycle occupy a lot less space than motorized vehicles,” Lontoc wrote.

A national bike policy, he added, would provide the framework for a comprehensive strategy and support programs to be coordinated on all government levels.

“One major initiative that can be done is to increase the number of dedicated bicycle lanes and links in applicable major and minor roads,” Lontoc said.

“To further promote the use of bicycles, special loan facilities and special subsidy program can be made available at the different local government units so that a good number of people can be influenced to adopt a healthier mode of transport.”

Lontoc said the policy can be initially focused on areas with high carbon emission rates, such as the National Capital Region, Regions 2, 4A, 4B, 8, 9, and 13.

“From a human capital point of view, the increased use of bicycles can improve wellness of people and may even spur more entrepreneural activities,” he said.

Bicycle enthusiasts said it just makes sense to ditch the four wheels.

“This is the one you use as a means of transportation and to minimize carbon footprint. Most of the time mas praktikal ang magbike," said Ger Victor, a content creator on cycling, said in The Cyclelogist. 
“Ang naging reason ko is practicality, ang pagiging tipid. Noong time na yun nagdadala ako ng sasakyan at laging nalelate, hindi na maganda nasisira ang productivity, hindi maganda ang impression sa kumpanya.”

Aldrin Pelicano, an urban planner and member of MNL Moves, described the ordeal he had to go through when he used mass transportation.

The time he saved from commuting? Pelicano could now use to spend with his family. 

“Lahat ng sasakyan papuntang Ortigas or Crossing area kapag dumaan ng Rosario puno na iyan,” he said.

“So naranasan kong laging sabit sa jeep or nakikipagsiksikan sa bus, minsan naglalakad ako. ’Yung 4 kilometers na ’yun will take me one hour.”