MANILA, Philippines – According to a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted from April 19-27, 2022, one out of four households nationwide own bicycles.
In nine national surveys from May 2020 to April 2022, SWS found that there were four bicycle owners to every car owner.
In the National Capital Region, there were more households that own bicycles than cars and motorcycles. Even in rural areas where motorcycles are more commonly owned, bicycles dominate over four-wheeled vehicles.
Bikes are primarily used for livelihood purposes, market runs, and commuting to work. Others cycle for exercise, play, and sightseeing.
Cyclists laud the recent SWS report, saying the report fills a “big gap in data” that the biking community sorely needs.
A growing community
Bikes became a popular alternative transport during the pandemic.
As of April 2022, 7.3 million households owned a bicycle, a million more since May 2021, when SWS counted 6.2 million households.
During the same period, the survey showed there was a decrease in non-cycling households. SWS Senior survey specialist Christian Michael Entoma says this was “good news,” especially now that more cars are back on the road and cities were returning to pre-pandemic level of heavy traffic.
Robert Siy from Move as One Coalition is optimistic that this “trend will continue” as a response to the limited public transportation, heavy traffic, and rising oil prices.
Frontliners, essential workers used bikes to go to work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cycling also became a safe form of exercise as it is performed outside and naturally keeps you at a distance from fellow bikers.
A big number of bikers were males. The survey found that 8.9 million household members who use bikes were males. This was a considerable number compared to the 2.3 million females who bike.
Better roads, more bikers
As the cycling community grows, bike advocates continue to push for better conditions on the road.
But it’s not just advocates and cyclists who promote bike safety and awareness anymore. Majority of Filipino households approve of bikes. According to SWS, 80% of Filipinos believe that better roads would encourage more people to use a bike. Some 75% see cycling as effective as other modes of transport.
Despite evidence that there are many Filipinos who use bikes for their daily commute and errands, cities and municipalities across the country are still lacking proper infrastructure.
There are potholes, metal sheets, and drainage covers on bike lanes. Vehicles use the lanes to park their cars, pushing bikers to use other lanes. Secure parking is also a problem in many establishments.
Heading into the ‘new normal’ and ‘back-to-school’ traffic, the public has yet to see if there are any major changes that would improve commuting and transport experience.
Siy and other advocates hope that this data would help policymakers “make good decisions.” – Rappler.com
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