MANILA, Philippines — The country’s importation of bicycles surged last year as the pandemic restricted public transportation with the government keen on building more protected bike lanes in the country.
Citing data from the Bureau of Customs, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said bicycle imports soared 112 percent to 2.1 million units in 2020.
This compares to the one million units of bicycles shipped into the country last year.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said this shows that more and more people are choosing cycling as their new mode of transportation.
During the height of the lockdown last year, Filipinos shifted to cycling as public transport was halted for months. And even quarantine restrictions were eased, public vehicles had to reduce their carrying capacity to ensure social distancing.
The sector suffered from the pandemic as it reduced transport supply and resulted in public transport shortages.
The land transport sector contracted by 30.7 percent last year and with its large economic linkages, a sharp contraction in transportation significantly brought down the rest of the economy, Chua said.
Last month, transportation costs, which represented a 18.8 percent share to the inflation rate, accelerated to 10.4 percent as fares for tricycles, jeepneys and buses continued to rise because of pandemic-related limitations in carrying capacity.
“As we learn to live with the virus, improving access to mobility in the country is crucial in jumpstarting the economy. In the Greater Manila area, only 12.5 percent of households own private cars,” Chua said.
“The rest cannot go to work because of limited public transportation. Promoting cycling and other modes of active transportation will provide safe, healthy, and affordable means of participating in the economy,” he said.
NEDA reiterated its support to the initiatives of various government agencies to build protected bike lanes around Metro Manila.
“We are one in their concerted efforts to increase mobility of people as we carefully reopen the economy. The current bike lane design provides significant protection to the growing number of cyclists,” Chua said.
Promoting sustainable and inclusive mobility is in line with the National Transport Policy that encourages local government units and national agencies to give priority to development of proper sidewalks and networks of bicycle lanes.
NEDA has called on the private sector to contribute to the alternative transport movement by providing end-of-trip facilities such as bike parking spaces and shower areas for employees who bike or walk to work.