According to the Department of Transportation, the Philippine Development Plan 2022-2028 that has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority also gives the “highest priority” to bikers and pedestrians among road users, with the government building them dedicated and safer lanes and wider sidewalks in the next six years.
The DOTr announcement came on the heels of a report last month by Move as One Coalition about the alarming number of road accidents involving bikers in Metropolitan Manila which led to the death of an average of 26 cyclists yearly from 2017 to 2021.
“The expansion and improvement of the country’s transportation system to be safe, convenient, accessible, modern and efficient… form part of the [PDP’s] top priority,” the DOTr said, as Transportation Undersecretary Steven Pastor said that like car riders, “our cyclists also have a right on our roads.”
“They are vulnerable as compared to our motorists, so it’s incumbent for the government to provide proper infrastructure for their safety,” he said.
Pastor said that amid the pandemic, the DOTr did not have a team focused on introducing programs for active mobility but the five members from various agencies that pushed for bike lanes has already grown to 30 members.
Bicycles became a favored means of transportation, especially for the poor and lower middle class who did not have their own cars or motorcycles during the first months of the pandemic when public transportation was restricted.
Pastor said that aside from upgrading and maintaining the existing bike lanes, the DOTr intended to build another 234 kilometers of bike lanes across eight regions, construct speed tables (midblock traffic calming devices) and a bike bridge, and develop a bike share system.
Compared to first world countries that have long ago embraced the many advantages of active mobility, it is unfortunate that a poor country like the Philippines is yet to implement it properly. Walkable cities and bike lanes would reduce the load on what is already inefficient public transportation system, giving residents access to the mobility they’ve been wishing for but cannot have because of poorly designed and unsafe infrastructure.
It would be great to see the DOTr expand its definition of transportation to more than just vehicle-based transport, but actually find ways to allow Filipinos to move around their towns and cities in the greenest, and the most affordable and efficient means available.*