Cyclists urge gov't to provide bike lanes under 'new normal'

Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2020 01:07 AM

People ride bicycles on EDSA near Pasay Rotonda on June 3,2020 as the world celebrates World Bicycle Day. Many workers are using bicycle as an alternative transportation because of the scarcity of public transportation during the general community quarantine. Czar Dancel

MANILA – Cycling advocates on Wednesday called on the government to provide bikeways as more people are turning to cycling due to limited public transportation.

“For every day that passes, we are putting more and more commuters at risk because they have no protection against the fast moving cars,” Life Cycles PH founder Keisha Mayuga said in an online forum initiated by COVID-19 Action Network Philippines.

"We call on the government to establish bike infrastructure to aid transportation during this pandemic. We applaud the cities that have already started looking into establishing bike lanes and drafting ordinances,” she added.

Local governments like Pasig City and Quezon City have existing infrastructure to accommodate bikers and are rushing to expand their bike lanes.

Pasig City chief transport planner Anton Siy said the city has been put up cycling infrastructure and continue to enforce and revise their local ordinances on safe bicycle pathways and on bicycle parking.

Siy said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto recently issued an executive order laying out the standards for having a safe network of bicycle paths throughout the entire city.

"Our objective is really to make sure that cyclist can get around our city safely and we recognize that our LGU is interdependent on others. We dream of being able to tell our bikers in Pasig that they have access to the entire Metro Manila through safe bicycle infrastructure” he said.

"We hope to see other LGUs and as well as the national government to eventually adopt these techniques and give us protected bikes lanes now as many of our ridng public has been calling for," Siy added.

Meanwhile, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the implementation of bike lanes in the city was already part of their commitment as member city of the Global Coalition of Cities called C40 Cities, which is committed towards climate action. 

"Part of our agenda of governance is to lay down or to create a wide area of bike lanes. This was even before the COVID-19 crisis started. We have already created a plan to put together a network 161 kilometers of bike lanes in Quezon City,” she said.

This initiative has already started in 2018 with 55 kilometers of bike lanes.

Part of the city’s plan, Belmonte said, is to update existing bike lanes. The next phase would be including 25 other roads to be include in the bike lane program.

Due to increasing need for bikeways, other cities like San Juan also began to build temporary bikes lanes.

San Juan City recently launched Makabagong San Juan Pop-up Bike Lanes, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer Gabrielle Ann Guevara said. 

"Our goal is to provide an alternative mode of transportation to our medical frontliners as well as the general public who have difficulty commuting. This is not just going to be a temporary structure here in San Juan. We plan to make it a more permanent one so we have been exploring partnerships with the private sector,” she said.

The city government will be providing 100 bicycles to its government employees. Those interested would need to give a letter of intent of wanting to own a bike and commit themselves to using those bikes when going to work. This is the city's way of promoting active sustainable and inclusive mobility.

The city will also be crafting policies and will provide guidelines to ensure the riders safety.

National government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) also support the idea of bike lanes because of their benefits to health and the potential to reduce traffic congestion.

"These modes would be undoubtedly be useful in maintaining physical distancing while at the same time deliver substantial environmental and health benefits while achieving use of road space,” said Transportation Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor.

"We are in coordination with MMDA and we are in the process of downloading a particular amount more or less P150 million to start the bike lanes along EDSA. So this is under process we are still on the final design and project cost from the MMDA. Once this is submitted to us we will process the funding,” he added.

The DPWH shared some of the projects that have been incorporating pedestrian infrastructure in existing national highways and the department plans to increase this further.

Build Build Build Committee Chairperson of the Department of Public Works & Highways Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo said that as early as 2016, the department had been working on bicycles lanes.

"Yung Laguna Lake Expressway it is the first toll-free expressway with segregated bicycle lanes and we really tried to incorporate yung guidelines natin in the technical working book ng DPWH so as to make sure that the same standards and specifications are implemented nationwide,” she said.

To help the county's integrated mobility, Jackie Gorospe of the Light Rail Manila Corporation shared LRMC's first day of General Community Quarantine, "We've seen more commuters inside LRT 1 bringing their bikes. Part of our bike policy is we them to bring foldable bikes and e-scooters. Size must be 2 by 3 feet or at least 5 feet when folded and must be placed not blocking pathways and not causing inconvenience to passengers."

In 2019, LRMC started their Bike Ways Project. Their programs and projects have been coordinated with the local government units of Manila and Pasay.

"What we've done so far, we have installed bike racks at Libertad station in Pasay. We also have bike racks at Central Station in Manila. Now we are working on the additional support needed to ensure the success of what we started. This year new bike racks and bike lanes,” she said.