With public transportation still limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s economic team is promoting cycling and building more protected bike lanes.
Constructing the projects, however, remains to be challenging.
The government has allotted P1.3 billion under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to build a 522.73- kilometer bike lane network in the country’s national roads.
But 5 months since the project was announced, the Department of Transportation reported on Saturday, March 6, that only 19% of bike lanes, pavement markings, and physical separators have been built so far.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor said in a media forum by the Makati Business Club that as of February 28, only 4.3% out of the proposed 338.53-kilometer bicycle road network for Metro Manila has been built.
Meanwhile, only 23.87% of the proposed 140.69 kilometers of bike lanes in Metro Cebu and 10.57% of the proposed 43.51 kilometers of bike lanes in Metro Davao have been built.
National Economic and Development Authority Acting Secretary Karl Chua said that encouraging biking by building more infrastructure for it would address public transport shortages and the spike in bus and tricycle fares.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the land transport sector shrank by 30.7% in 2020, nearly 3 times worse than the 9.5% contraction in overall gross domestic product.
Due to the shortage, inflation in passenger road transport nearly quadrupled to 9.6% in 2020.
“Promoting cycling and other modes of active transportation will provide safe, healthy, and affordable means of participating in the economy,” Chua said.
Some 37 bike groups and coalitions earlier called out the national government’s delayed construction of bike lanes.
“This delay is unacceptable. It is a slap in the face of hardworking Filipino frontline and essential workers who have taken to riding their bicycles to work to cope with the lack of public transport during the lockdown,” the groups said. – Rappler.com
Jan Cuyco is a Rappler intern. She is a journalism student from the University of the Philippines Diliman.