LGUs told to help make biking, walking safe for commuters

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
LGUs told to help make biking, walking safe for 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

MANILA, Philippines — The Interior Department urged local governments on Monday to construct active transport infrastructure, such as protected biking lanes and walking paths, to provide alternative modes of transportation amid the lack of options for commuters during the pandemic.

Local goverments were also told to enact policies and ordinances on the use of roads.

In a statement, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said this was part of the recently signed joint administrative order 2020-0001 with the health, public works, and transportation departments “to address the limited transportation options for essential travel and curtail transmissions in public transportation.”  

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that public mass transportation, unfortunately, has become vulnerable to coronavirus transmission despite the health protocols in place which is why walking and biking must be encouraged for they “present less contact among the populace leading to less opportunities for infection.”

“Data from the ground show that the public transport system can be a breeding ground for COVID-19 transmission so we are asking local governments to put up walking paths and bike lanes to keep people safe while they walk or bike,” Año said in Filipino.

The order also includes supportive infrastructure including bicycle racks and changing rooms to encourage walking and cycling. It also provides minimum public health standards for active transport users, such as the use of face masks and physical distancing. 

DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also urged local governments to revisit their existing Local Public Transport Route Plans to properly plan, identify, and adopt the appropriate engineering and infrastructure solutions of designated local roads to be converted or redesigned for cycling lanes and walking paths.

The department issued Memorandum Circular 2020-100 in July calling on LGUs to review local road structures and determine sections that may be developed into a continuous cycling lanes network and walking paths while ensuring active transport access to vital establishments, maximizing the use and value of street space, prioritizing safety and welfare of the users, and ensuring that people of all ages and abilities can access services in the locality.

'Allot bike lanes to ensure safety'

In separate statements issued earlier this weekend, the Department of Health and the Move as One transport coalition also called for the construction of protected bicycle lanes, saying that having them in place could have stopped the death of nurse Renz Jayson Perez in a hit-and-run last week.

Over a thousand Filipinos chose to bike to work in June amid restrictions on public transportation despite the lack of safe bike lanes along major roads.

The department in its statement encouraged more commuters to try doing so, pointing out that walking and biking "opens up various benefits for the health of an individual; contribute to less air pollution; address and help in easing public transportation; and, most importantly, decrease the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission."

“We will not go wrong if we will give walking and biking a chance. However you choose to look at it, very beneficial,” DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said.

“With the limited modes of transportation available today, people would understandably look for alternatives. As more and more people shift to biking as a way to get to their destinations, LGUs must be prepared to support them through the allotment of bike lanes to ensure their safety,” Malaya said.

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