‘We could have been Lorelie’

Katti Sta. Ana
We must act, for those she left behind, and for those we could be leaving behind, if things don't get any better

Lorelie Cruz Melevo, a 30-year-old single mother of two young children, was killed after a government dump truck driven by Jonathan Silverio hit her while she was pushing her bicycle on a bike lane in Marikina. She died on the spot after being dragged by the truck along Mayor Gil Fernando Street in the early morning of Tuesday, January 5.

Every year, 10,379 people die on our nation’s roads; people on bicycles account for 2% of that figure. While that percentage seems small, Lorelie’s horrific death is unacceptable.

With her passing, we are called upon to think about the inhumane road conditions that we must take action to change. We must act, for those she left behind, and for those we could be leaving behind, if things don’t get any better.

LORELEI MELEVO. A biker, Lorelei is killed when a dump truck hits her along Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue in Marikina City on January 5, 2016. From Facebook wall of James Deakin

Let us take this opportunity to demand the following: 

  • The strict implementation of the rule of law on our roads.

Those who break the law – whether a seemingly insignificant road violation or one resulting in death, whether that is you or I – must be apprehended and penalized. That includes the truck driver who killed Lorelie. Jonathan Silverio is now charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

  • The end of corruption in the issuance of driver’s licenses in the Land Transportation Office.

It is common knowledge that the agency’s employees systematically issue drivers’ licenses without applicants undergoing or passing practical and/or written examinations. Let us demand the cleansing of the LTO, the removal of corrupt employees, and their penalization.

  • The end of motorization, congestion, and road rage.

Let us call on our government to regulate the volume of motor vehicles, expand and improve public and mass transportation, and encourage the use of non-motorized modes of transport, such as walking and bicycling, by providing the people who walk and bicycle with protected walkways and bicycle lanes.

As long as people who drive remain without discipline and lack education on the rights of people who walk and bike, the facilities for these road users must be designed to protect them.

Not everyone knows that the road where Lorelie was killed used to be called A. Tuazon Street. It was a main arterial subdivision road that linked 3 subdivisions: New Marikina, Marikina East, and Marikina Midtown. Then, in the 1990s, the local government took over the road, reclassified it into a commercial zone, and renamed it Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue.

People who drive have come to think that the bike lane where Lorelie was killed should not, in the first place, have taken the space of motor vehicles. Please know that, in fact, it is motor vehicles that have eaten up the space where children used to ride their bicycles in the subdivisions.

I was one of those children. Today, I can no longer freely bike without care on the widened, reclassified road. But I use and celebrate its newly painted green bicycle lanes, which the Marikina Bikeways Office said they would separate from motor vehicle lanes with reflective “cat’s eyes.”

This area is my neighborhood. And I could have been Lorelie. Or you could have been Lorelie. And her children could have been your children, too.

As Lorelie is laid to rest, let us all say a prayer for her soul. And let’s hope that her death sparks the change we all need for a sane, safe place for people who walk and people on bicycles. – Rappler.com

Katti Sta. Ana is the convenor of The Firefly Brigade. The citizen’s group envisions a world where bicycling and sustainable transportation are a way of life.

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