Senator Grace Poe has urged the government to provide bikes for vulnerable and poor workers as a form of subsidy to make commute easier and safer for them amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services, said the government could tap the P1.3-billion allocation under the Bayanihan to Recover as One or Bayanihan 2 Act.
The fund was appropriated for the development of pedestrian sidewalks and protected bike lanes, and procurement of bicycles and related equipment for bicycle sharing or lending programs.
“You can move tens of thousands of people next week without having to tunnel underground or build concrete overpasses that will take years to finish,” Poe said in a statement on Friday, June 4.
“Kesa pera, pwede kasi ibang klaseng CCT—Cycles for Citizens Transfer—na mas mainam (Instead of cash, we can just rollout a different CCT—Cycles for Citizens Transfer—which is much better),” she added, referring to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, more known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), of the government.
The lawmaker noted that imported, pre-owned bikes are being sold online for P2,500 to P3,000 — amounts which are “unaffordable” for daily-wage earners, she said.
Poe said the Bayanihan allocation can be used to “bulk-buy” such bikes.
The bike distribution program can also be funded out of pandemic mitigation programs in the national budget, the senator added.
“Kung tama ang mga ads na P3,300 ang presyo ng isa (If ads are accurate that bikes cost P3,300 each), a P100-million allocation can provide mobility to 33,400 workers,” Poe said.
“As we build more bike lanes, let us complement this by fielding more bikes used by workers who are relieved of daily commuting burdens. Ligtas pa, kasi sa mga siksikan na sasakyan, baka seatmate mo si corona (It is also safer, because in crammed vehicles, you might be seating beside the coronavirus),” she pointed out.
During a House hearing last June 1, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that of the P1.3 billion, P200 billion was set aside for the bike-sharing program that would be implemented along EDSA.