Cyclists plan protest ride over 'inaction' that made Makati CBD 'more dangerous'

Biking advocates, including The STAR’s Bum Tenorio call for more protected bicycle lanes in Metro Manila, in Makati’s Freedom Park along Ayala Avenue in February 2023.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:44 p.m.) — Cyclists and commuters are set to stage another protest this Friday after talks with Ayala Land, Inc. on proposed safety interventions in the Makati Central Business District went sour.

"Although Ayala’s public statements highlight its commitment to sustainability and people-oriented development, such promises prove false when measured by their recent actions: The safety of commuters and cyclists in Makati Central Business District (CBD) is not Ayala’s priority," Make It Safer Movement in a statement this Tuesday.

"Earlier this year, sustainable mobility advocates protested the planned conversion of Ayala Avenue bike lanes to sharrows (allowing motor vehicles and bicycles to mix in the same lane), which would endanger thousands of cyclists and commuters that traverse Ayala Avenue daily."

Representatives of Make It Safer Movement, Ayala Land, Inc., and the Makati Business Club's Business for Biking Program agreed in February to keep the protected bike lanes in Ayala Avenue. — this after plans of having it scrapped were met with street protests.

The parties also agreed to implement street design solutions through a technical working group. As a result, Paseo de Roxas started to close down on weekends for Makati Street Meet, this while ALI also committed to buying more accessible bike racks in the future.

'Broken promises, more injuries'

However, the transport advocacy group says that these do not address the "fundamental" road safety issues in Ayala developments.

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"After four months, things have gotten worse for safety. ALI rejected the community's  proposed safety interventions. ALI even removed protected bike lanes in their neighboring development Bonifacio Global City while the [Technical Working Group] was still meeting," they said.

"ALI did not honor their written commitment to study a full protected bike lane. ALI ignored the data and testimonies. ALI opposed transparency and the participation of key stakeholders. The bike lanes are narrower, traffic enforcers remain hostile to cyclists and pedestrians, and more and more people are getting injured."

"We entered the TWG in good faith — but Ayala’s arbitrary decisions have placed thousands of vulnerable road users in Makati in more hazardous situations. Ultimately, Ayala has proven one thing: They do not prioritize our safety. Ayala Corporation's leadership is not living out the values they say they stand up for."

Protected bike lanes still there, Ayala stresses

In a statement sent to ALI stressed that they kept the protected bike lanes at the Makati CBD and that they are implementing "safety infrastructure."

"The protected bike lanes along the main thoroughfares of the Makati Central Business District have been preserved and strengthened with enhanced safety infrastructure based on inputs from the biking community," Ayala Land said.

"Installation of additional bollards and signage along the route are scheduled in the coming week."

They also asserted that the Makati Parking Authority is actively enforcing regulations and issuing citations to motor vehicles that infringe upon said bike lanes.

A thorough study, they say, is also on the way to "rationalize" the roads as a recognition of the changing needs of the community.

"This study aims to determine the most effective strategies to serve all stakeholders within our estates, considering the diverse needs of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and other users and the limited road space available," ALI continued.

"By undertaking this analysis, we strive to create a well-balanced road network that optimizes safety, accessibility, and convenience for everyone in the Makati Central Business District."

Help of LGU sought

The Make It Safer Movement is currently calling on the leadership of ALI to "listen to the data" and swiftly implement effective interventions in conflict zones already within its jurisdiction to avoid more injuries and death.

They also called on Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay to work with Ayala to implement high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure that people could safety use on a daily basis.

The group is currently encouraging all active transport and road safety advocates to join their mobilization at the Ayala Triangle along Paseo de Roxas on July 14 at 5 p.m. for a press briefing and protest ride. — with reports from Ramon Royandoyan

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