At least 200K commute on bikes each day, according to tally in key cities

At least 200K commute on bikes each day, according to tally in key cities
Cyclists and electric scooter riders use the protected bike lanes on EDSA from White Plains Avenue to Bonny Serrano Avenue as a dry-run activity for the World Bicycle Day as taken in this photo on May 24, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas via Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Over 600 volunteers around the country recorded nearly 192,000 cyclists on major roads of ten cities in the Philippines in celebration of World Cities Day on Monday.

These findings came off the 2022 Bike Count Program, the second round of its kind carried by the Mobility Awards organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project Philippines, MNL Moves, 350.org Pilipinas and Pinay Bike Community.

The bike counts are meant to contribute to baseline data on bicycle use in cities and to spur local governments to include cycling in their data monitoring and their development plans.

In a statement, Aldrin Pelicano, MNL Moves founder and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities inclusive mobility advisor, called the count "a response to the continuing challenge over the lack of bike traffic data," saying the 191,578 recorded bike traffic volume was still a "significant undercount."

"Investments in active transport infrastructure is best justified when anchored on regularly collected and analyzed data. We likewise need to ensure we use data generated to tell stories, set ridership and bike network infrastructure goals, monitor outcomes and build support for continuous improvements," he said at a webinar launching the findings of this year’s bike count.

"We need permanent count programs that use appropriate technologies to ensure we capture up-to-date data focused on the growing population of cyclists and active transport users in the country," Pelicano also said at the webinar. 

This year's count was conducted in 99 different locations across ten cities during peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon.

It was piloted in Metro Manila last 2021, where 168 volunteers recorded 38,932 people on bicycles, 1,658 personal mobility device users, and 12,787 pedestrians in Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, and Quezon City.

The Mobility Awards said that 191,578 cyclists recorded on the road translate to daily fuel cost savings of from P147,000 to P307,000 per kilometer, which it called "compelling figures given the continuing rise in fuel prices in the Philippines" that can provide urgency and a basis for national agencies and local governments to accelerate the establishment of safer, more inclusive infrastructure and policies promoting active transport.

“[This bike count] empowers people, and it ensures that people are accounted for. This bike count has provided the conclusion that there is power in people to exercise their right to quality travel. What kind of quality? Pro-people, safe, and inclusive,” said Metro Naga Active Transport Community organizer Ramon Dominic Nobleza in mixed Filipino and English.

“Apart from local governments, many stakeholders can use the bike count data in improving their policies and programs, including the business sector and the academe. Bicol has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, and in turn, laborers and construction workers cycle to save money. These are the stories that we see through numbers,” Nobleza added.

RELATED: The Road Ahead: For Quezon City, more cyclists will mean more bike lanes

DOTr: Findings highlight need to promote active transport

Advocates highlighted the efforts of volunteers and mobility advocates from the cities of Quezon, Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, Naga, and Baguio in Luzon; Iloilo, Cebu, and Mandaue in Visayas; and Davao in Mindanao in doing their part to make cyclists and pedestrians visible through concrete data.

The Department of Transportation announced in the webinar that part of their 2023 budget is allocated for the procurement and installation of automated traffic count instruments in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, geared at gathering hourly, daily, and monthly statistical data on the use of bike lanes.

"In DOTr, we always welcome and very much appreciate this bike counting initiative, especially focusing on sustainable modes of transport, which is very long overdue in the Philippines. The findings serve as undebatable evidence for lawmakers and government officials on the urgent need to prioritize active transport projects and policies," said Eldon Joshua Dionisio, project manager of the DOTr Active Transport Program Management Office.

During the general meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said that the DOTr was looking to promote active transportation by coordinating with the private sector on putting up infrastructure for active transport users. 

So far, the department has completed 564-kilometer bike lane networks in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao with pavement markings, bollards, curbs, and solar studs. 

"We are talking to schools, private companies, and government agencies to provide parking areas for bicycles or other personal mobility devices as well as put up facilities where users of alternative transport can change clothes or if possible, take a shower before going to work or school," Bautista said. 

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