House panel approves establishment of safe pathways network

Published March 10, 2021, 6:39 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Transportation on Wednesday, March 10, approved the bills proposing the establishment of a safe pathways network (SFN) of bicycle lanes and slow streets in the country.

Three bills authored by Reps. Alan Peter Cayetano (NP, Taguig-Pateros); Marial Laarni L. Cayetano (NP, Taguig); Jonathan Sy-Alvarado (NP, Bulacan) and Loren Legarda (NPC, Antique) were consolidated by the House panel.

Under the bill, SFNs will be established for the use of non-motorized vehicles.

However, electric personal mobility devices that will be allowed under the guidelines set by local government units (LGUs) will be allowed use of the SFN. The SFN shall consist of the following:

1) Bicycle lanes which may be temporary or permanent in nature. Temporary lanes, may also be allowed during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic or during emergency situations.

2) Slow Streets – people-oriented slow streets that may be established on a temporary or permanent basis.

Speed limits will be imposed on certain days or hours for motorized vehicles.

The consolidated bill also directs LGUs to coordinate with health facilities to establish pop-out bicycle lanes or slow streets that can provide easy and safe access for healthcare workers of hospitals and health centers.

Cayetano and his wife, Rep. Laarni cited a 2015 study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency that noted that only 11.5 percent of households in Metro Manila and its surround provinces are car owners.

This indicated that majority of the population rely on public transportation which are insufficient to address the needs of citizens especially during the community quarantine period.

Thus, many citizens rely heavily on bicycles as their means of transportation.

Authors of the bill said it has become imperative for the government to guarantee the safety of bicycle riding citizens by providing SFNs and slow streets.

“This measure seeks to promote sustainable mobility through creating a network of pop-out bicycle lanes and emergency pathways that are people-oriented and pedestrian friendly,” said Legarda.