Department of Transportation

Bike advocates laud ‘long overdue’ active transport infrastructure in Intramuros

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Bike advocates laud ‘long overdue’ active transport infrastructure in Intramuros

MOBILITY. Bike advocates cycle on General Luna street in Intramuros, Manila.

Iya Gozum/Rappler

Advocates say the project enhances pedestrians and cyclists' safety and promotes heritage tourism

MANILA, Philippines – Bike advocates lauded the expanded bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways that were were inaugurated in Intramuros on June 21 as a step promoting sustainable transport and mobility.

This is a component of a Department of Transportation project that aims to benefit 1.9 million cyclists, residents, tourists, students, and other stakeholders, according to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport Non-Infrastructure Jose Lim IV.

These measures are expected to enhance safety and encourage more people to explore Intramuros on foot or by bike.

For someone who has been biking around Intramuros since 2015, Sarah Espina, a volunteer from the Make It Safer Movement (MISMO), said that these changes had been a long time coming.

“This is long overdue,” she said. “Intramuros was designed to be a walkable inner city, so for them to actually reduce car use and open up the streets again to pedestrians and tourists, local and foreign, it’s a huge win.”

Lloyd Denniel, an avid cyclist for five years, highlighted the improvements along General Luna Street, a route he frequently takes to visit prominent heritage sites, cultural hubs, and government agencies.

“Before, sobrang chaotic. Dito lang sa General Luna marami kang kasabay na sasakyan before. Pero ngayon parang it feels safe,” he said.

(Before, it was really chaotic. In General Luna, you’d be alongside many cars before. But now it feels kind of safe.)

Person, Machine, Wheel
OPEN STREET. A kalesa goes through the car-free General Luna street. Photo by Iya Gozum/Rappler
A decade of advocacy

For Bryan Benitez McClelland, the founder of Bambike Ecotours Intramuros, the improvements are the culmination of a decade-long effort.

“Finally, we see a real concerted effort and multiple groups joining forces for the betterment of [Intramuros] and safety for cyclists and people walking around, deprioritization of cars driving through, especially in such [a] historically important district,” McClelland said.

It was a step in the right direction that would “share this world heritage site with the rest of the global tourism market,” he added.

Bambike offers a 2.5-hour bike tour inside Intramuros, passing through Manila Cathedral, Aduana Building, and Fort Santiago. Bamboo bikes are seen as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the more typical steel and aluminum bikes in terms of production.

McClelland said he sees the project extending beyond the walls of Intramuros, integrating with Manila’s broader tourism corridors.

“If this [project or] trend can really continue and more and more people feel comfortable biking, that means more people will vote for biking lanes and kind of get the attention of the decision-makers,” he said.

Bike advocates laud ‘long overdue’ active transport infrastructure in Intramuros
In need of more support

“Active transport is the best example of sustainable transport,” DOTr Assistant Secretary Lim said during the inauguration ceremony.

The pedestrianization of Intramuros and the installation of bike lanes make the Walled City an ideal tourist destination that can be safely explored by foot or on two wheels.

With the new launch of expanded and separated cycle paths and pedestrian zones, Intramuros is kicking off a new age of sustainability and accessibility for everyone.

“We really thought of developing the area. It’s very timely and very useful din para sa mga tourist, mga nagtatrabaho, at nag-aaral dito (for the tourists, workers, and students here),” said Eldon Dionisio, project manager at the DOTr’s active transport office.

Dionisio said that the bike lanes in Intramuros followed the standard design prescribed by the government.

“The question lang lagi ay bibigyan ba tayo ng space ng kung sino mang decision maker or authority na may jurisdiction over the road. Continuous siya as long mayroon pa kaming pera at bibigyan kami ng budget,” he said.

(The question is if we will be given space by whoever decision-maker or authority has jurisdiction over the road. It will be continuous as long as we will be given funds.)

The DOTr allocated P64.16 million for the expansion of active and public transport infrastructure in Intramuros, with completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of the year. – Erika Sinaking and Gab Vizcarra/

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