By MAYOR ISKO MORENO
There’s no question about it. The city government of Manila will readily comply once the national government finally decides to set up bike lanes in the city.
However, if the local government units (LGUs) are given the discretion on whether or not to assign bike lanes, sorry to say, but I am just not inclined to allow it.
I would rather see particularly the citizens of our city queue for public transport than end up either forever impaired or worse, dead, because I allowed them to go around the city in bicycles despite knowing the hazards they will be facing.
Let me be blatant about this issue. We are just not ready for this particular move. The bikers, the motorists, truck drivers, and the public in general are not ready and it would take rigorous orientation to make them fully comprehend what may lie ahead.
Every single day, about 4,000 trucks traverse the streets of Manila. By trucks, I do not mean ordinary ones. I am referring to the gargantuan 40-foot trucks, not to mention the regular vehicles.
I shudder at the thought of bicycles having to contend with this challenge daily.
Are our bike riders ready to put their lives and limbs on the line by sharing the roads with these 40-foot trucks, among other many vehicles? Do all the bikers know the discipline entailed in riding bicycles? Do motorists know the kind of respect they should afford bicycle riders?
These are just some of the bugging questions that make me hesitant about agreeing to setting up bike lanes.
Let me be clear. I have nothing against the idea but I strongly believe that a thorough and careful study must be made first, for the simple reason that I do not want anyone meeting an accident in the city and losing lives or limbs because we decided without proper study and measures in place.
I know for certain that each time we go out to try and earn a living, there are people who expect us to come home in one piece. Most of us have mouths to feed and need to put food on the table, so I want everyone in my beloved city to be safe at all times.
Although it pains me, let me cite a very unfortunate incident that happened in Manila only a couple of months ago, at the height of the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
A lady doctor who had been actively helping us in our fight against COVID-19 had just rendered duty and was on her way home when she got hit by a speeding truck. She died on the spot and she was riding a bicycle.
The accident took place at a time when the streets were practically devoid of any traffic activity. The streets were virtually empty and yet, such a mishap took place and claimed the very valuable life of a health frontliner.
The poor doctor died a senseless death in the hands of a speeding truck driver and, take note, it was also broad daylight.
I have been to The Netherlands and there, I have seen that their bicycle system is highly successful with no accidents taking place. Why? Because it was the product of a thorough and long study, at least a decade, that took into consideration all aspects of the issue at hand.
Let me stress that we are talking of precious lives here. This is why I am really half-hearted and I can only ask for the kind understanding of those who may have opinions contrary to mine. To me, one death is just one too many.
Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account — “Isko Moreno Domagoso.”