Iloilo cyclists ride vs ‘anti-biking’ ordinance
ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Coinciding with the Liberation of Panay celebration in Iloilo on Monday, March 18, nearly 600 local cyclists joined a 24-kilometer ride “for [their] right” to pedal in what has been dubbed the most bike-friendly city in the country.
The “Ride to Liberation: Ride for our Rights” was convened by the city's numerous bike groups calling for a repeal of the “archaic” Regulation Ordinance 982-354, passed in 1982, which penalizes and prohibits cyclists from a handful of major thoroughfares in the city.
The old ordinance was brought to public attention and sparked debate after a series of statements from the office of the city administrator went viral on social media.
These prompted the Ilonggo bikers to come together to challenge the “outdated legislation.” Iloilo was proclaimed the “most bike-friendly city” in the country by the PhilBike Awards during the PhilBike Expo at the World Trade Center Manila in September last year.
Wearing black, the bikers gathered at the lloilo Freedom Grandstand before heading to the districts of La Paz, Jaro, Mandurriao, and Molo, circling back to Iloilo City Proper to complete the 24-kilometer route. After the “Ride to Liberation,” cyclists launched a campaign to collect at least 1,000 signatures for the repeal of the ordinance.
“We raise a call to be liberated from local government’s neglect and inaction and to break free from archaic policies and ordinances that are anti-biker and anti-pedestrian,” according to architect Jai Javier, one of the founders of the Iloilo Folding Bike Riders.
“Instead we assert for road sharing while we are reaffirming our continued dedication to collaborate with the government and with the different sectors in making Iloilo City a biker-inclusive progressive city,” Javier added.
During the “Ride to Liberation,” Ilonggo bikers also called for the completion of the “university loop,” a bike lane circuit which connects the 6 universities located within the city proper and intends to ensure the safety and protection of students who bike to school and for school personnel who bike to work.
Architect Wilfredo Sy Jr, director of the Iloilo Bike Festival last year, sees the “university loop” complementing Iloilo’s protected bike lanes along Diversion Road, already dedicated solely for cyclists. When completed, 58,000 students are set to benefit from the loop, Sy said.
Sy is a major proponent of the proposed comprehensive bike lane for the city – a nearly100-kilometer route that starts at the Iloilo International Airport and connects all seven districts of the city, linking all plazas and major schools of Iloilo.
“Unfortunately, the full completion of the initiative [was] confronted [by] humps,” said Sy in a statement. “Not for the reason that it needs additional funding, but because the local government failed to facilitate the consultations among stakeholders so that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can proceed with the works and complete the project.”
“Considering that the elections is within the corner, may this advocacy ride serve as the bikers’ call for our candidates and future leaders to take a strong position as genuine movers of road sharing and sustainable transportation,” Sy continued.
The Ilonggo biking community’s campaign is grounded on Republic Act (RA) 6735, or the People’s Initiative Act of 1989 and RA 6735, the Local Government Code of 1992. According to Sy, the two laws uphold a “peoples initiative’ provision which avers that 1,000 voters acting as petitioners in the city can submit a petition to the city council as basis for the passage of an ordinance.
Currently, Iloilo City has two other bike-related ordinances: Ordinance 2014-193, an ordinance requiring government and non-government buildings with existing parking spaces to provide a safe bicycle parking zone, and Ordinance 2016-299 or the Benigno Aquino Avenue bike lane ordinance.-Rappler.com
Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay is a Rappler Mover, an Iloilo-based writer, and a journalist reporting largely on the local cultural community and art scene of the thriving city.
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