The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday asked the local government units (LGUs) to construct protected biking lanes and walking paths in the midst of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
With the current health emergency crisis the country is facing, the public’s mobility was restricted due to the limited number of public transport allowed on the streets.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año urged the public to consider other alternative modes of mobility like walking and biking.
Año said the DILG signed JAO 2020-0001 with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “to address the limited transportation options for essential travel and curtail transmissions in public transportation.”
The DILG chief said the JAO urges the national government agencies (NGAs) and LGUs to construct protected bicycle lanes and walking paths and supportive infrastructure like bicycle racks and changing rooms to encourage walking and cycling.
He added the JAO also provides minimum public health standards for active transport users, such as the use of face masks and physical distancing.
Año said public mass transportation “has become vulnerable to coronavirus transmission despite the health protocols in place which is why walking and biking must be encouraged for they present less contact among the populace leading to less opportunities for infection.”
“Data from the ground show that the public transport system can be a breeding ground for COVID-19 transmission,’’ Año said.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan E. Malaya said that active transport is a welcome addition and a supplementary mode of transportation, which, according to him “hits many birds with one stone.”
He said that walking and biking opens up various benefits for the health of an individual, contribute to less air pollution, address and help in easing public transportation, and, most importantly, decrease the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.
Complementary to the JAO, the DOH has produced a Health Promotion Playbook on Active Transport in partnership with the DILG and civil society groups.
The playbook aims to assist LGUs in rolling out their own bicycle lanes. It explains the health benefits of, and contains technical instructions, including a template ordinance, implementation plan, communication materials, and a monitoring and evaluation plan for a successful bicycle lane network.
Network of Cycling Lanes
Prior to the issuance of the JAO, Malaya said that the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2020-100 in July stating the guidelines for the establishment of a network of cycling lanes and walking paths to support people’s mobility.
“With the limited modes of transportation available today, people will understandably look for alternatives. As more and more people shift to biking as a way to get to their destinations, LGUs must be prepared to support them through the allotment of bike lanes to ensure their safety,” Malaya said.
In the memorandum, the LGUs are enjoined to review local road structures and determine sections that may be developed into a continuous cycling lanes network and walking paths, while ensuring active transport access to vital establishments, maximizing the use and value of street space, prioritizing safety and welfare of the users, and ensuring that people of all ages and abilities can access services in the locality.
Malaya said the LGUs should revisit their existing Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) to properly plan, identify, and adopt the appropriate engineering and infrastructure solutions of designated local roads to be converted or redesigned for cycling lanes and walking paths.
To ensure proper support for active transport, Malaya urged the LGUs to enact policies and ordinances, and prescribe rules and regulation on the use of roads.