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We can make PH bike-friendly

In February 2019, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led by then Secretary Mark Villar opened a separate 5.58-kilometer bicycle lane facility along the stretch of Laguna Lake Highway in Taguig City.

Aimed to open up transportation, recreation, and health opportunities, the three-meter-wide bike lane component—which is protected by a planting strip to make cycling safe and comfortable for everyone—was added to the 6.94-kilometer Laguna Lake Highway, which was constructed to serve as an alternative route to EDSA and C-5.

Secretary Mark said that the inclusion of protected bike lanes and sidewalk spaces in DPWH’s new projects is aimed at building safe roads and bridges that will also cater to bikers and pedestrians.

Biking as alternative transport

During the lockdown, public transportation operations were suspended, and even with the easing of quarantine restrictions, public vehicles had to impose physical distancing—thus, cycling became a major mode of transportation.

Data from the Bureau of Customs showed that bicycle imports soared 112 percent to 2.1 million units in 2020. Moreover, SWS research between May 4, 2020 and May 2, 2021 revealed that an estimated 24 percent of Filipino households used bicycles, 19 percent of which were owned, while the rest used borrowed bicycles. One out of five used bicycles are used for essential activities.

With the soaring prices of gasoline, it’s likely that more people will continue to use bicycles as a mode of transportation.

The UniTeam of presidentiable Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and vice presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte vowed that, should they win in the elections, protected bike lanes will be included in the planning and design of roads.

They committed to complete the Manila Bike Lane Network, and will aim to roll-out a similar plan for other urban centers in the country. They said they will ensure that these bike lanes are safe and in compliance with international standards, which will increase the people’s confidence to use bicycles as their preferred mode of transportation.Last year, a 313-kilometer Metropolitan Area Bike Lane Network that covers 67 roads in Metro Manila was completed. The 29-kilometer Metro Cebu Bike Lanes and 54.7-kilometer Metro Davao Bike Lanes were also launched in Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao that will be able to improve safety and promote fair division of road space and active transportation.

In collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DoTr), the DPWH installed reflectorized thermoplastic pavement markings, road signages, and bike lane separators along key roads in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao to ease accessibility for cyclists.

Mandatory bicycle lanes in PH

Since 2016, the DPWH has been working on incorporating pedestrian infrastructure on public roads in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. But in 2020, Secretary Mark aimed to institutionalize this through Department Order 88, which mandates that all projects that involve new road and bridge construction will include in their design the provision of bicycle facilities, if feasible.

Secretary Mark, who is running for senator under the UniTeam, said that bike-friendly infrastructure promotes road safety to all and encourages the public to consider biking as a safe mode of transportation beneficial not only to their physical health, but also to the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, to traffic, and to public roads that render less wear and tear.

Under DO 88, bicycle facilities will be classified into three classes depending on the prevailing road and traffic conditions: Class 1 or the Shared Use Bike Path, Class 2 or the Separated Bike Lane, and Class 3 is the Shared Roadway.

In Class 1, a designated path, completely separated from the roadway, will be identified for the exclusive use of bicycles or shared with pedestrians. In Class 2, a portion of roadway, which is designated for exclusive use, will be distinguished by a paint strip, curb, or barrier. In Class 3, where limited carriageway width poses a problem, a part of the roadway that has been officially designated and marked as bicycle route may also be used by motor vehicles.

Making communities walkable and bike-friendly has been a trend for many progressive cities around the world. If the next leaders of our nation will make this part of their programs, then soon, the Philippines will also be a champion of sustainable and inclusive mobility.

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