cycling in the Philippines

Bikers, advocates demand better enforcement of rights on the road

Iya Gozum

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Bikers, advocates demand better enforcement of rights on the road

CYCLING. More than 60 women participate in the century ride in September 2022.

Mot Rasay

The forum gave space for bike commuters to share experiences on road incidents and their attempts to report these to authorities

MANILA, Philippines – Bike commuters and advocates demanded better law enforcement and recognition of their rights on the road, in a forum on Sunday, May 12.

During the forum, organized by Rappler and AltMobility PH, bike commuters shared their dismal experiences on the road and when attempting to report a road incident. The event was supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines.

CYCLISTS’ CONCERNS. Karen Crisostomo of Bicycle Friendly Philippines asks a question during the Batas Bisikleta event on May 12, 2024. Photo by Mika Soria/Rappler

Karen Silva Crisostomo, a mother who taught her children to commute via bicycle, shared an incident where two men on a motorcycle and an open side-car bumped her bike and held on to her rear basket, which caused her to fall on the road.

She was in the bike lane, as were the two men who were under the influence of alcohol.

“If I didn’t know how to fall then it could’ve been worse. But what I’m trying to say is how can we prevent this?” Crisostomo said.

She said she tried to report the incident first to the barangay, then to the police, but decided not to push through.

“The policeman at the station said something like I should have reported it [on the] same day or gone straight to them,” Crisostomo told Rappler after the event. “But then I had work.”

Crisostomo directed her anecdote to Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group chief Brigadier General Alan Nazarro during the forum, and added that there should be more awareness and sensitivity within the police organization in handling such cases.

These incidents are commonplace for many bike commuters. Others who joined the forum recalled their experiences with hostile car drivers and near mishaps.

Taking space

These stories on bikers’ encounters with enforcers and other road users showed how they are often seen as a nuisance on the streets.

“Bikers have a right to be on the road,” said human rights lawyer Chel Diokno during the forum.

He cited Supreme Court cases that pertain to the liberty of using a bicycle, and that bicycles are “at least equal to that of other vehicles lawfully on the highway.”

“Responsibly sharing the road with bikers is not a concession – it’s a duty,” Diokno said.

He also pointed out that motorized vehicles are more capable of inflicting damage than bicycles, and should thus be more careful on the road.

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Recording incidents

Among the commonly raised issues is the need for documentation to report an incident. Diokno said that using a camera to record incidents is not a violation of the Data Privacy Act.

However, Diokno cautioned that private conversations between parties should be excluded in recording, and the faces of people not involved in the incident should be blurred.

He also said that in cases when a biker requests for CCTV footage, the request would be more effective if a lawyer asks for it.

Meanwhile, Anthony Sanchez from the legal service office of the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group, said having a recorded video showing the incident is not required.

“Hindi naman po natin kailangan ng video lagi na to prove na that crime exists (We don’t always need a video to prove that crime exists),” Sanchez said in the forum.

Sanchez said bike commuters can present eyewitnesses who can tell enforcers about the circumstances that led to the incident.

There’s also another option aside from filing a case – settle.

“We encourage settlement between the parties,” Sanchez said.

However, cycling advocate Anton Siy said in a post after the event that it is already “pointless” to tell bikers to settle since they have developed the attitude of letting these incidents slide.

“There’s so much hassle in filing a case, the people at that point often have exhausted all other options for amicable settlement,” Siy wrote.

Push for legislation

While infrastructure already exists in some areas, there is no legislation yet that caters to the welfare of bike commuters and the creation of bikeable communities.

It was also mentioned during the forum that the the 2025 midterm elections are an opportunity for advocates to push for these bills that can be championed by candidates in the polls.

Pending bills in Congress that Diokno specified bikers could advocate for as a community include Senate Bill 1290 or the Walkable and Bikeable Communities Act and Senate Bill 1698 or the Bicycle Act.

Both bills recognize how the pandemic led to a boom in bicycle use and other modes of active transport. The bills also emphasized that aside from the health benefits of active transport, these modes are more environment-friendly and cost-effective than other vehicles.

Bikers, advocates demand better enforcement of rights on the road

“With bicycles being seen as a reliable and resilient option in pandemic times, a policy on bicycle and cyclists should now figure prominently in the government’s current and post-pandemic planning,” Senator Raffy Tulfo said in the explanatory note of the Bicycle Act.

“This bill also ensures that bike lane networks and other end-of-trip facilities will be integrated in future infrastructure projects across the Philippines.” –

The forum on bikers’ rights mentioned in this article is part of Rappler’s Make Manila Liveable campaign. It’s a collaboration between Rappler journalists and communities to make improving quality of life in Philippine cities a key issue in the 2025 midterm elections. Learn more about Make Manila Liveable here.

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.