CCC: 88 percent of Metro Manila residents don’t own cars; calls for more mobility options

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Various sectors have called on the government to prioritize the 88 percent of households in Metro Manila and the Greater Manila Area, who are non-car owners, in providing sustainable mobility options.

Workers commuting on bicycles pass by augmentation buses for train passengers near a train station in Manila on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN) Workers commuting on bicycles pass by augmentation buses for train passengers near a train station in Manila on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda co-organized a webinar on Thursday, June 11, where they highlighted a 2015 technical report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which showed that 88 percent of households in Metro Manila and the rest of the Greater Manila Area do not own cars, while the remaining 12 percent own at least one.

Benjamin de la Peña, a global expert on urban development, transportation, and planning stressed that biking and walking are primary and not alternative modes of transportation.

"If you believe that we are facing the climate crisis, you need to be for protected bike lanes," he said.

"We already had a transport crisis before COVID-19. For the last 60 years, we have been solving traffic, but traffic is not the solution, we need to address transportation," he added.

De la Peña also called the thinking that "transport planning must follow the hierarchy of roads" "car-based prioritization" "outdated."

Undersecretary Frisco San Juan Jr. of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is discussing EDSA bike lanes with them, and that they are looking at the possibility of permanent bike lanes in EDSA and also in Mabuhay Lanes.

Meanwhile, Anna Mae Lamentillo, chairperson of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Build, Build Build Committee, confirmed that DPWH Secretary Mark Villar is convening a technical working group towards the creation of an interconnected bike lane network across Metro Manila.

She also announced that the BGC-Ortigas link bridge will have a bicycle lane, which will be completed next year.

Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) executive director Red Constantino also announced that the ICSC and MNL Moves will launch a Liberate the 88 campaign in July, which would call on cyclists to nominate the most cycling-friendly local government units, business establishments, and workplaces.

ICSC urban transitions analyst Celine Tabinga has presented the results of a pre-COVID active mobility survey they have conducted with MNL Moves and the University of Twente in the Netherlands in November-December 2019.

Her report included a proposed Metro Manila bike lane network based on the survey.

"Active mobility (walking and cycling) can and should be made easier and safer in Metro Manila," Tabinga said.

"We have to enable cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; change mindsets, priorities, and policies to move people, not cars; and generate more data to support planning and policies," she added.

Netherlands Ambassador Saskia de Lang offered to organize a bike workshop and bring in mobility experts, as the Embassy has done so in the past through the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

She pointed out, however, that "solutions should be developed in the country, in our cities, with the people on the ground, with stakeholders involved including public and private institutions."

Climate Reality Project-Philippines manager Nazrin Castro also cited initiatives of LGUs and malls to set up bike lanes and parking spots to encourage biking, and suggested concrete steps such as extending bike loans to employees; installing showers, lockers, & dressing rooms for bikers; having coaching programs to accompany newbies from home to workplace; and incentivizing workers biking to work.