By Jel Santos
With the limited means for mobility during the community quarantine, the local government unit (LGU) of Pasay City is pushing for the promotion of biking among its residents.
Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano said using bicycles would address the problems faced by many people as operations of conventional public mass transport remain suspended, even after the community quarantine is lifted.
Experts said implementing a number of health protocols such as physical distancing and avoiding contact with “high-touch surfaces” are difficult to ensure in conventional public mass transport.
“Bicycling is seen as one of the would-be dominant means of transportation of our people such as the workers, market-goers, public sector employees and many others who go on relatively short-distance trips daily,” the mayor said.
“Actually, it (biking) may even be the more economical and practical way to go to work or buy something from the market, grocery or drugstore, as it doesn’t entail a fare, it doesn’t need fuel, it’s environment-friendly and it’s even healthy,” she added.
Rubiano said they are eyeing to designate “bike lanes” along roads leading to places and establishments most frequented by people such as public and private markets; government offices; and long-distance transport hubs such as the airport, MRT and LRT stations and bus terminals, among others.
In addition, she said the bike lanes will be painted, marked with vital signages declaring them as “off-limit” to motorized vehicles.
The city government said they will be manned and managed by the City’s personnel such as the Traffic and Parking Management Office (TPMO), Tricycle and Pedicab Franchising and Regulatory Office (TPFRO), Public Order and Safety Unit (POSU) and by personnel from the Barangay with jurisdiction over a particular bike lane segment.
They are also eyeing a portion of pedestrian lanes as designated bike lanes especially at road intersections, she said.
Moreover, the city government said they will encourage the owners or operators of establishments to provide free-of-charge bike parking spaces with chaining rails, with ample lighting, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and roving security.
Rubiano said they are crafting a package of measures to encourage the majority of citizens to make biking their main means of transport, and a set of incentives for owners and operators of establishments who would participate in the initiative.
Notably, Rubiano was among the first to push for the enactment of a law to promote bicycling in the country, and to implement steps to ensure the safety of bicyclists during her stint as representative of the lone district of Pasay City.
In House Bill 3827, which she authored in 2014, the mayor “underscored that the advantages of using a bicycle as an alternative means of transport far outweigh the use of a motorized vehicle.”
“Aside from its health and physical rewards from exercise and relieving stress, the use of the bicycle does not only consume fossil fuels but will definitely decongest traffic in the metropolis,” Rubiano stated.