MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeks to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative means of transport in the Philippines.
Rep. Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City) filed House Bill 3827 or the “Bicyclist Act of 2014.”
The act proposes the establishment of Local Bikeways Offices (LBO) in all cities and municipalities across the country.
The LBOs will be in charge of implementing bikeway projects and roadmaps.
“Aside from its health and physical rewards from exercise and relieving stress, the use of the bicycle does not only consume fossil fuels but will definitely decongest traffic in the metropolis (sic),” Calixto-Rubiano said.
Calixto-Rubiano emphasized the need for proper infrastructure in order for bike projects to work.
Unlike other Asian countries, most Philippine cities are not bike-friendly. There is a lack of bike lanes and bike parking spaces, and if there are any, pedestrians and side-walk vendors use them.
If approved, the measure will mandate LBOs to establish partnerships with local and foreign organizations to carry out its provisions in facilitating an easy bicycle access and network.
It also proposes a registration system for bicycles. LBOs, in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), will conduct information campaigns on the advantages of using bicycles.
All cities and municipalities shall also create parks designed for leisurely bike rides.
Under the proposed law, cyclists are required to wear appropriate biking gear and to equip their bikes with headlights. Violators will be fined P2, 000 or less.
Less traffic and pollution, more exercise
The use of bicycles can hopefully reduce traffic, especially with the new commuter problems brought about by this year’s major roadwork projects.
The “Bicyclist Act of 2014” is not the first attempt at improving the state of the country’s public transportation.
In February, a petition called on the government to devote half of Philippine roads to covered walkways, bike lanes, more trains, and modernized bus systems.
Another proposal is to modernize our LRT and MRT systems – adding more carts, utilizing an e-ticketing system, improving stations and connectivity, and expanding travel routes.
Cost of traffic jams
These alternatives do not only save time but also help in reducing air pollution and its adverse effects on health.
A study from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that the Philippines lost P2.4 billion every day in 2012 because of worsening traffic jams. If our public transportation system does not improve, the country could lose up to P6 billion a day by 2030.
In Japan, almost everyone rides bikes. Businessmen in suits, students, the elderly, and women in heels can be seen on bikes.
Some mothers even put a special baby carriage in front of their bikes while their groceries are stored inside a basket at the back of the vehicles.
Until the bill is passed, Filipino commuters will have to go through their daily grind that includes getting stuck in heavy traffic, long queues and jam-packed trains. – Rappler.com