(SPOT.ph) Mobility changes in the pandemic are making their way to legislation. Senator Raffy Tulfo is looking to expand bike lanes at a national scale through the introduction of a new bill that goes beyond simple funding. He expressed the need for a formal agency in charge of implementing bike-specific policies, rules, and regulations for the safety and protection of cyclists everywhere.
The Push for More Bike Lanes
Senate Bill 1698 or the Bicycle Act pushes for the creation of a local bikeways office, which will manage the construction and maintenance of bike-related infrastructures under the supervision of the city or municipal engineering office. It will act as “a framework for a bicycle law on a national level.”
In particular, the local bikeways office (LBO) is tasked to provide bike lanes on all main roads and highways to keep up with the surge in bike use in recent years.
“In view of the fluctuating fuel prices in the world market, the State recognizes the need for cheap alternative means of transportation and encourages the use of non-motorized and environment-friendly modes of transport,” it read in Section 2 of the Bicycle Act.
Beyond roads and highways, the bill will also create a “Bicycle Park" to ensure there is the presence of bike lanes and parking areas in each city or municipality.
The bill follows a recent Social Weather Stations survey, which found that 87% of Filipinos said they would prefer bicycles and public transportation to be given priority on the road over private vehicles.
At present, most roads leave cyclists no choice but to share the road with cars, buses, and motorcycles, which makes navigation more complicated on top of the existing potholes, loose gravel, and other hazards that cyclists already face.
The bill also outlines the responsibilities and restrictions on the cyclist’s end, which includes having one hand on the handlebar at all times, wearing a helmet properly, keeping personal items in a basket or rack, and not riding the bicycle on a sidewalk.
However commendable, Tulfo's proposal is not novel. In 2001, Marikina City Council pioneered the creation of a Bikeways Office that creates and oversees bikeways in the city.
Since the pandemic, other cities and municipalities have followed suit in building more bikeways—the most notable of which is the Department of Transportation's Metro Manila Bike Lane Network.