Volunteer group: Improvised bike lane was decisive action to protect commuters
In this photo released on June 2, 2020, cyclist group Bikers United Marshalls set up an improvised bicycle lane along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Bikers United Marshalls Facebook page

Volunteer group: Improvised bike lane was decisive action to protect commuters

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - June 3, 2020 - 2:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — A bike group on Wednesday condemned a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority official's threat to file charges and impose fines on their members over an improvised bike lane along Commonwealth Avenue. 

"Bikers United Marshalls deplore the statements made [by] MMDA [Assistant] Secretary Celine Pialago threatening to file charges and impose fines on well-meaning citizens who are taking decisive actions to protect the thousands of bicycle commuters on our roads,” the group said in a statement posted on their Facebook page. 

Members of the group will be given citation tickets for obstruction and will be slapped with a P1,000 fine each, according to Pialago.  

She added that MMDA is coordinating with the Philippine National Police to determine other possible charges to be filed against members of the Bikers United Marshalls. 

However, the group accused Pialago of misrepresenting the facts of the incident.

They said the improvised bike lane they put up along Commonwealth was made with large plastic bottles — not barricades as claimed by the MMDA — which their members use when they volunteer as traffic marshals.

They also disputed MMDA’s claim that traffic constables had to remove the bottles, saying the group promptly packed them up at 8 a.m.

They added that they also provided bikers, many of whom lacked protective gear, with reflectorized vests. 

The group further criticized MMDA for failing to install bicycle infrastructure along major roads despite claiming that bike lanes would be put up along EDSA under the “new normal”.

It has since emerged that the proposal is still up for further study.

”We believe we have done our bikers (mostly without protective gear) our humble service. If the MMDA sees otherwise, then we have to be ready for the consequences of the incompetence of our leaders,” they said.

Transportation woes plague shift to GCQ 

As Metro Manila shifted into to a more relaxed GCQ on Monday, thousands of commuters found themselves stranded and scrambling to find rides. 

Traditional jeepneys and UV express vehicles, which are among the main modes of transportation for most Filipinos, are currently not allowed on the road.

Over a thousand Filipinos chose to bike to work. They did this despite the lack of safe bike lanes along major roads.

Several government agencies including the Philippine National Police and Philippine Coast Guard deployed trucks to pick up stranded commuters.

This tactic saw commuters overcrowding the government-deployed trucks and violating social distancing rules. 

Sen. Nancy Binay, in a statement released Tuesday, called the ban on jeepneys "unrealistic, anti-commuter [and] anti-worker.” 

"Obviously, DOTr is favoring a certain segment of the mass transport sector, while ignoring and isolating the biggest public transport segment which the majority of the commuting public depend on," she added. 

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said the inconvenience to commuters could not be avoided as the government is still adjusting to the general community quarantine.

Binay challenged DOTr officials to travel to work like regular commuters, criticizing them for having "no clear plan in place" after almost three months under ECQ.

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