Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor has warned of “a creeping surge in bicycle road accidents” including fatal ones due to the lack of safe mobility infrastructure in the country.
“In Metro Manila alone, we saw a 48 percent jump in bicycle road crashes in 2020. The rate of increase in accidents this year is bound to be even higher, considering that more people are choosing to go to work on bicycles,” Defensor said in a statement on Sunday, Nov. 28.
The partylist congressman added that public transportation avoidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring fuel prices have brought a dramatic rise in bicycles roaming on the road.
“We have to restructure and redesign our streets to accommodate the influx of bicycles. Right now, bicycle riders have very little leeway to safely navigate through motor vehicle traffic in our heavily congested roads, thus causing many accidents,” Defensor said.
In 2020, the number of bicycle road accidents in the National Capital Region (NCR) rose to 2,606 cases from 1,759 cases in 2019 based on the data released by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
“But the MMDA statistics are understated, since they cover only crashes that get reported and documented. We suppose that the real figures are much higher,” Defensor added.
Defensor has already filed House Bill 10396 or the Bike-Friendly Communities Act which seeks to build up the country’s cycling infrastructure and establish a secure travel environment for bicycle riders.
Under the said measure, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) will be required to develop the country’s bicycle lane network which will include sidewalk upgrades, crossing improvements, parking racks, off-street shelters, service centers, and specialized traffic signs and signals.
Meanwhile, Defensor, who is running for Quezon City mayor, and his team has promised to use new expenditures for bicycle lanes to make jobs for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defensor and vice mayoralty candidate Winston “Winnie” Castelo have proposed a P9 billion infrastructure program to boost Quezon City’s economy and provide new employment to its residents.
“We will use a portion of the spending to expand and improve the city’s bicycle lane network,” said Castelo, a former three-term Quezon City congressman.