More senators seek gov’t focus on bike lanes, bike parking spaces

May 30,2020

With the suspension of public transport during the Covid19 pandemic, bikers and commuters groups, in partnership with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, install a temporary bike lane from White Plains to Col. Bonny Serrano Avenues, EDSA, Quezon City on Sunday, May 24, 2020.

MANILA, Philippines — More senators are calling on the government to give more focus on biking as a primary mode of transportation during the coronavirus pandemic, as they call for the establishment of bike lanes and opening up more bike parking spaces.

Senator Francis Tolentino on Friday called for government agencies to work in designating, developing, and improving bike lanes in Metro Manila, especially during community quarantine.

In a resolution, Tolentino urged the Department of Public Works and Highways to coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to put up, and enhance bicycle lanes in the metropolis.

Public utility vehicles (PUV) and bus lanes in Metro Manila are currently unused due to the suspension of public transportation that could be converted into bike lanes, he said.

“Encouraging Filipinos to ride their bicycles to work would greatly help address the impending transportation woes once the MECQ in Metro Manila is lifted,” Tolentino said in a statement.

Senator Pia Cayetano, meanwhile, supports a proposal that would prioritize the establishment of pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways in roads connecting to hospitals which medical frontliners can use on their way to work.

It was earlier proposed that the government should build a “loop” of bikeway systems that would link roads along several hospitals in the metropolis.

This seeks to benefit frontliners working in four hospitals in Manila: the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) along Taft Avenue, the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center along Quirino Avenue, and the Manila Doctors Hospital and Manila Medical Center, both along United Nations Avenue.

The six-kilometer pathway will serve as a “safe haven” to ensure frontliners’ safety while going to work on their bikes.

“We need to protect the people that protect us. I want to help address this need to establish safe pathways for our frontline workers,” Cayetano said in a separate statement.

The senator earlier filed a bill which seeks to create a network of pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways to connect people to essential destinations during the pandemic, all while ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.

“We want to be able to protect all of our frontliners; even the hospital staff exposed to admin work and cleaning services, the security personnel, the barangays workers, and so on. We need to keep finding ways to keep them all safe, which also means keeping our roads safe for them to travel on,” the senator said.

For his part, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said it is not enough to establish pathways for bikes, the government should also see to it that bikers will have places where they can park and leave their bikes safely.

This will encourage more bikers to use their bikes on their way to their workplaces, he added.

The government should put up bike racks in its offices and in public schools, colleges, hospitals, and markets.

“Maraming bikers ngayon na hindi gaanong nababahala habang pumapadyak sa kalsada, pero takot na manakaw ang bisikleta nila habang ito’y nakaparada,” Recto said in a separate statement.

(Many bikers, while not worried about biking to work, fear that their bicycles may be stolen while it is parked.)

Malls should also dedicate and expand parking areas for bicycles, which is free of charge.

“Malaking kaswapangan na kung pati bisikleta sisingilin mo pa. Napakaliit na espasyo lang mao-okupa. Besides, cars can cross-subsidize the expenses in maintaining mall parking lots,” he said.

Schools and places of worship are also encouraged to establish spaces for bikes.

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