San Juan City goes the extra kilometer to keep bikers safe

Published December 4, 2020, 7:24 AM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas


  • San Juan City, a recipient of the Gold Mobility Award, was recognized as one of the most bike-friendly cities in Metro Manila.
  • The city government has passed a Bicycle Ordinance that guides the establishment of bike lanes and safety protocols.
  • • Its bike lanes along major streets are secured by bolted bollards to prevent the bigger vehicles from straying into the lanes and hitting a biker.
  • It recently launched a Historical Bike Tour to allow tourists to see the sights on a bike. It will start in January b2021.
  • Under the Safe Ride advocacy campaign, the city government unveiled on Nov. 25 the country’s first solar-powered bike pit stop along Pinaglabanan Street, beside the city hall. It has a parking area, resting area, and a repair station complete with hanger arms, repair tools, and air pump.
  • Recently, the city procured 105 bikes that are open for bike sharing among city government employees who can use them to go to work.

Biking to work is part of the new normal in mobility.

That became the natural consequence of the pandemic, the lockdown, the suspension of public transportation and the health and safety protocols. When quarantine measures were eased and the economy gradually opened, biking was the safer and more convenient way to get back to work especially for those who do not have private vehicles.

In Metro Manila, local government units quickly responded to the need to create bike lanes on existing roads for road safety. The many LGUs who already had the special lanes just expanded the areas where bikers could safely ride through.

In San Juan City, the local government saw the need to protect cyclist passing along the major and inner thoroughfares in the city as more people turned to bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation in the new normal.

BIKING IN THE NEW NORMAL — San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora on his bike leads the launching of the city’s permanent bike lanes along a portion of Ortigas Avenue last September 17. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU)

Bike lanes were quickly set along portions of Ortigas Avenue, N. Domingo Street, Pinaglabanan Street, Santolan Road, and Wilson Street. On Ortigas Avenue, there are separate lanes for bikes, motorcycles, private vehicles, and buses.

“With the limited mobility options, the commuters found biking as the perfect alternative to mass public transportation. People need not worry about social distancing issues and proper ventilation when riding their bicycles, which are the primary concerns of this pandemic,” San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said.

Pop-up bike lanes

Some of the bike lanes which were launched as pop-up bike lanes for the World Bicycle Day last June 3 were turned into permanent fixtures along the thoroughfares.

“We now have a total of 5.28 kilometers of bike lanes within San Juan for our Phase 1,” Zamora said. “We will be extending this further in the coming weeks for the Phase 2.”

Bicycle ordinance passed

The San Juan City government passed last July the San Juan City Bicycle Ordinance 2020, which provided the guidelines for the establishment of permanent bike lanes in the city, as well as bike-friendly zones and bicycle parking facilities.

“The ordinance also includes bicycle user equipment, traffic rules and regulations, implementation and funding, advocacy and incentives for the promotion of the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation,” Zamora said.

To help them implement the city’s Bicycle Ordinance, the city government has provided bicycles and body cameras to members of the San Juan City Police. The police officers conduct patrols along the bike lanes and ensure the safety of the biking public.

Historical Bike Tours

The city is so serious about biking as the form of mobility that it launched the Historical Bike Tours to entice tourists to view the sights on a bicycle. The tour, which will start in January 2021, will make stops at famous landmarks like the Pinaglabanan Shrine, Museo ng Katipunan, El Deposito Museum, El Deposito Underground Tunnel, the Marcos House, St. John the Baptist Parish, Club Filipino, and the Santuario del Santo Cristo.

“This was actually in the pipeline prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we believe that launching this soon would be a good way to revive tourism as well even if we still have COVID,” he added.

Keeping bikers safe

Features to enhance the safety of bikers have been installed by the LGU. One of them is street lighting –120-watt LED lamps will be installed in streetlights along primary, secondary and tertiary roads in the city. Zamora said 90 percent of the LGU-owned streetlights were already replaced and is projected to be completed by the end of this year.

Mayor Zamora said Meralco, which owns the other streetlights, has already agreed to change their lights to white LED lamps. They will start replacing the lights in 2021.

“The city government of San Juan wants to ensure the safety of the public especially those who have resorted to using bikes as their primary mode of transportation, especially the medical frontliners who have been risking their lives just to attend to the needs of the masses,” he said.

“That is why the first phase of our pop-up bike lanes was focused on connecting the hospitals and the major essential infrastructures in the city. San Juan also wanted to encourage biking as a means of transportation given the fact that it is a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative,” he added.

Bollards protect bike lanes

Another safety feature of the bike lanes are the bolted bollards which prevents four-wheel vehicles from straying into the lanes.

BIKER SAFETY — Bollards along bike lanes in the wide thoroughfares in San Juan City keep the bikers safe. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU)

“One of the most common problems encountered by bike lanes is that other types of vehicles, particularly motorcycles, eat up the lanes dedicated to bikes. Now, what sets our bike lanes apart from the other LGUs is that we have already installed bolted bollards to provide a clear delineation protecting our bike and scooter users—plus, we have dedicated a lane beside the bike and e-scooter lanes just for motorcycles,” Zamora said.

“This creates a safer space for bikers and e-scooter users who pass by Ortigas Avenue who need to get to Manila or Pasig or Quezon City. There are also traffic enforcers who ensure that the fines and penalties as per the San Juan Bike Ordinance are being implemented,” he added.

Gold Mobility Award

BIKE-FRIENDLY CITY — San Juan City recently was recognized with the gold award in the first Mobility Awards for being one of the most bike-friendly cities in Metro Manila. The city has reconfigured several of its major thoroughfares to include bike lanes. ((Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU)

The initiative of the local government to support biking as a form of mobility was recognized recently with the Gold Mobility Award, and was cited as one of the most bike-friendly cities in Metro Manila. Other Mobility awardees are the cities of Pasig (Gold award) and Marikina (Silver award).

Praises from First Bike Ride

San Juan City has also earned the praises of the First Bike Ride, a group of cycling enthusiasts, for its efforts in promoting the culture of bike riding and “for keeping its promise of protecting bikers.”

In its Facebook page, the group noted the local government has completed the repairs on damaged bollards protecting the bike lanes along Ortigas Avenue.

“This is how you do it,” said the First Bike Ride in its post. “This is a good example of true commitment to the bike commuters.”

The cycling group has also noted that drainages along city streets are suitable for bikes with thin wheels, saying that there were cases when the bicycle tires go inside drainage holes which can lead to accidents.

PH’s first solar-powered bike pit stop

The local chief executive said the city government has also recently inked a partnership with Allianz PNB for the Ride Safe Campaign, an advocacy campaign to promote safe biking.

As part of the partnership, the city government unveiled on November 25 the country’s first solar-powered bike pit stop along Pinaglabanan Street beside the City Hall. The pit stop features a parking area, a resting area, and a repair station complete with hanger arms, repair tools, and air pump.

Bike sharing program

“We have also procured 105 bikes that are open for bike sharing among city government employees who can use them to go to work,” he said.

More bike lanes

San Juan City is not finished with keeping its roads safe for bikers. In the coming weeks, more bike lanes will be established. Government workers have already began preparing the bike lanes along P. Guevarra Street, and will soon start along Blumentrit Street.

EXCLUSIVE FOR BICYCLES — A sign reminds motor vehicles not to pass along the outermost lane of Ortigas Avenue in San Juan City that is for bicycles only. The city government passed the Bicycle Ordinance 2020 last July which provided the guidelines for the establishment of permanent bike lanes in the city, as well as bike-friendly zones and bicycle parking facilities. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU)

The mayor said bike lanes are also prepared on smaller roads but those will not have bollards but will only be defined by paint and signages. Because the streets are narrow, the space taken by the bollards will further reduce the road space and will cause traffic.

Also, emergency vehicles will not be able to pass those roads in case traffic is heavy, he explained.

 
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