The growing interest in bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation has been met with a variety of views. Many welcome it, as former non-bikers have started to shift to this new mode, while a number of past proponents continue to lobby for the movement and are doubling their efforts in informing the public of biking benefits.
Public establishments have also begun to adapt, with spaces now being converted to bicycle parking slots. But the shift has also been met with apprehension—like the recent fining of Bikers United Marshalls for their improvized bike lanes.
But here’s some good news: Local government units (LGUs) are now giving more attention to the needs of bike riders. Quezon City (QC), in particular, announced June 2 that they plan to stretch the city’s existing bike lanes from the original 55km almost three times for a total of 161km.
The upgrading of barriers, signages, markers and other safety infrastructure for bike riders will also be implemented according to QC Mayor Joy Belmonte, Inquirer reported.
“This was a priority for us even before COVID-19 happened as part of our global commitment to reducing air pollution by 2020, but due to the pressing need for transport during the pandemic, and the bike culture that emerged as a result of this, we are fast-tracking its implementation,” Belmonte said.
San Juan City also formally launches pop-up bike lanes today, June 3. The first phase of the city’s bike lane program will span “N. Domingo to Ortigas Avenue to the intersection of Connecticut St., which will pass through San Juan Medical Center (SJMC), the San Juan City Hall, Greenhills Shopping Center, and near Cardinal Santos Medical Center,” according to a statement from the LGU.
The bike lanes are meant to help and support “frontliners as well as the people who have gone back to work using their bikes this week,” San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said. He also added that the use of bicycles will be beneficial as it allows the public to observe social distancing during travel, while also being sustainable.
This move by LGUs is ultimately timely, as the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved bicycles as a primary of transportation during Metro Manila’s general community quarantine.
“‘Yung bicycle, pino-promote nating primary mode of transportation so mag-uutos na rin tayo sa LGUs na mag-establish ng bike lanes sa lahat ng thoroughfares,” IATF vice chairman and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in an interview with CNN Philippines.[READ: LOOK: Department of Transportation releases EDSA bike lane proposal via Multisport.ph]
Aside from QC and San Juan, other cities are also looking into improving their infrastructure for bicycle-riders. Mandaluyong City’s local government has already begun planning for designated bike lanes across the city.
Pasig City, meanwhile, is doubling its efforts as the “most bike-friendly city in Metro Manila.” Mid-May, the city has introduced new bike lanes and extended sidewalks along several avenues. According to a report by Inquirer, “Pasig was the first local government in April to recognize biking as a necessary means of transport.”
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) also announced May 28 that bike lanes will be installed along EDSA. DOTr, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways will be working together to test if bike lanes will be feasible along EDSA, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a televised meeting. “Pag ito po ay na-prove sa aming eksperimento na kaya, gagawin po namin yung istrakturang permanent. Sabihin ko lang po na yung bicycle lane will not be limited to EDSA. It will be limited to parts of the country if it works,” Tugade said.
Header image courtesy of Grig C. Montegrande for Inquirer.
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