'Paurong mag-isip': MMDA's proposal to remove EDSA bike lanes draws flak

James Relativo - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Mobility advocates scored the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) after proposing the removal of bicycle lanes on EDSA — a move seen by the group as counter to the president's directive on sustainable modes of transportation.

This comes after the MMDA mulled the possibility of removing the said lane as part of a study with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), considering an exclusive motorcycle lane on the same road.

"MMDA has been left by evolution. Over the years to now, MMDA has been hurting Metro Manila with its overly car-oriented policies - policies that have not only impaired mobility but put ordinary Filipino commuters in danger," AltMobility PH director Ira Cruz told Philstar.com on Wednesday.

"We reject the proposal of MMDA. EDSA should be redesigned to maximize capacity by prioritizing modes of transportation that accommodate more people and optimize road space such as mass road-based public transportation and active transportation. In so doing, government can improve mobility for all."

MMDA chairperson Don Artes earlier floated the idea, saying that EDSA is "probably the only major highway in the world where there are bicycles. This, while pointing out its alleged underutilization.

Only 1,500 are said to be using it on a daily basis compared to over 170,000 motorcycles passing through the said main thoroughfare.

Motorcycle riders are currently being prohibited from using said bicycle lanes along EDSA, with violators facting up to P1,000 in fines.

There's currently a non-exclusive motorcycle lane on the fourth lane from the sidewalk. However, it may also be used by vehicles with more than two wheels.

Aginst Marcos directive?

Cruz pointed out that civil society organizations, together with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and DOTr, earlier agreed to work together to improve the state of active transportation in the Philippines at last Tuesday's 18th Inter-Agency Technical Working Group for Active Transportation (IATWG-AT) meeting.

Active transportation refers to human-powered mobility, mainly biking or walking.

"This seems to leave MMDA as the only government agency left pursuing this path and undermining the President’s instruction to develop and promote 'healthier and sustainable' modes of transportation," continued Cruz.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last Sunday said that his government aims to "prioritize active transportation facilities" including safe walkways and secure bike ways to promote a healthier, more sustainaable modes of travel.

The chief executive also said that he plans on decongesting traffic in Metro Manila by expanding and extending the EDSA Bus Carousel, refurbishing the Pasig River stations and constructing bridges across the latter.

Cyclists and mobility advocates have long lobbied for the increase of safer bike ways, some of which have resorted to street protests in the hopes of protecting their right to share the road without fear.

Over 2,182 bicycle crashes have been monitored by the MMDA in Metro Manila in 2022. Almost 1,620 or which resulted in non-fatal injuries while 25 people have died.

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