It's no secret that the government is promoting biking in the country. They are expanding bike lanes all over the land to encourage more cyclists and keep those who are already on it. According to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, there is now 296 km of bike lanes in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, just to name a few.
The government got a bit of help from SM to keep the program going. The DOTr, along with the country's largest mall chain, launched a new initiative to help cyclists. They launched the Bike Manual handbook, and it's available in SM malls. In it are the new rules and regulations for cyclists in the new normal. Not only that, but SM also put up bike stations to help cyclists in their commutes. These include rest stops, repair stations, and secure bike parking stands.
The question now is this, will the cycling initiative continue once the country tapers down active cases? The short answer is yes.
“Etong programa na ito ay napaka ganda. Hindi po titigil ito kapag natigil ang pandemiya. Tuloy tuloy po and programang ito,” said the DOTr secretary.
[This is a brilliant program. This will not stop once we've dealt with the pandemic. This program will continue]
With the Secretary's confirmation, this is great news for the cycling public.
But the cycling initiative doesn't stop there. Secretary Tugade added that they will implement more bike lanes in the future. DOTr Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor also said that they will kick off the bike-sharing program.
“Currently, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), under the leadership of Secretary Mark Villar, and with the help and support from our partners from the DILG, DOH, and MMDA, we have already recorded 55% or a total of around 296 kilometers of bike lane network established with pavement markings, bollards, curbs, and solar studs. Our goal is to complete the total bike lane networks length in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao to almost 535 kilometers before the year ends,” added the secretary.
The DOTr, in cooperation with the MMDA, will put up 34 stations along the EDSA Corridor. MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said that some of these will be near public transport terminals for added convenience for commuters. The end goal here is to create a cycling road network, says Robert Siy, advocate for Sustainable Mobility.
So far, even the local government units (LGU) are in favor of the DOTr's cycling program. Secretary Tugade said that most LGU officials are working with them to further promote cycling in the country. For further education, the DOTr and SM will continue their information campaigns for both cyclists and motorists. So not only will cyclists know about the implementing rules and regulations, but motorists will also know about the courtesies between drivers and bike users.
This doesn't mean that the government is forcing everyone out of their cars. Alongside the cycling programs, the DOTr, MMDA, and DPWH continue their traffic mitigation schemes, road-widening projects, and infrastructure enhancements. With all these programs coming in all at once, we might see roads that are not just better for motorists, but also for those who pedal their way around the country too.