By Alexandria San Juan
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have started the construction of protected bike lanes along EDSA amid persistent calls to promote the use of active transport modes in the country due to transport restrictions because of the global pandemic.
In a statement, the DOTr said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and MMDA Chairman Danny Lim has agreed to begin the construction of the lanes on Saturday, June 13, as modes of transportation remains limited weeks after the capital region's shift to general community quarantine (GCQ).
"The DOTr and MMDA have already commenced with the groundworks and mobilization of the bike lanes. The MMDA has started lining EDSA and has estimated this to be finished in three to five days," the Department announced on Saturday.
According to the DOTr, the officials had "decided to fast-track the establishment of the protected bike lanes on the roads and not on sidewalks" as part of their program to redesign Metro Manila's busiest highway in a bid to make it more inclusive for cyclists and pedestrians.
"As more people are shifting to this active mode of transport, amid the crisis situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal is to move people while making sure of their safety," Tugade emphasized.
Meanwhile, the MMDA chief expressed its support for the construction of the bike lanes at the "soonest possible time," adding that the project will be done in two phases -- the interim and long term.
Lim also said that the bike lane would provide at least 1.5 meters of space for bikers.
However, Move As One, a coalition of transport advocates, earlier appealed for wider protected bike lanes that are set up away from sidewalks, as it tagged MMDA's lane width proposal "dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians,"
"At least 88 percent of the Metro Manila population depends on public transport, walking, and cycling, and in the new normal, they must be given more road space, to save lives and prevent injuries," the coalition said in a statement over the week.
"A lane width of only one meter is dangerous for cyclists. The Netherlands Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic requires a bike lane width of two meters, while the Indonesian Public Works standards stipulate a minimum bike lane width of 1.5 to 1.75 meters," it explained.
Move As One also emphasized the need for a safe dedicated bicycle lane which will benefit frontliners and essential workers, many of whome have resorted to cycling due to insufficient public transportation amid the pandemic.
The coalition added that providing bicycles a greater share of the road space will lead to significantly improved mobility for people traveling along EDSA.
"Incorporating bicycles in the same road space can move 3-4 times more people than the same space used by cars. EDSA would achieve much higher people throughput,” it noted.