Car drivers warned: Don't use, park on bike lanes

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Car drivers warned: Don't use, park on bike lanes
The government is promoting the use of bicycles as an alternative means of transportation once the modified enhanced community quarantine is lifted and Metro Manila transitions into the “new normal.”
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Motorists turning bicycle lanes into parking spaces or as a way to avoid traffic do not only disrespect the bicycle riders but also put their lives at risks, the quarantine enforcement arm of the coronavirus task force said Tuesday.

Hundreds of commuters have resorted to using bikes amid the lack of public transportation options in the first week of general community quarantine, prompting calls for protected bike lanes, particularly along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. 

When bicycle lanes are used as parking spaces—videos of which have been posted in social media— bicycle riders are forced to shift to other lanes, which put them at risk of being hit by vehicles tailing them, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said.

“The keyword here is respect. Just like drivers of trucks, buses and private vehicles, bicycle riders also have the right to use the roads especially if they are already allowed to go through bicycle lanes that have already been designated by the local government units,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar said the task force had received multiple complaints from bicycle riders about private vehicles using bicycle lanes as parking spaces or as a way to avoid traffic.

In an earlier statement, the Move as One transport coalition said: "88% of the Metro Manila population depends on public transport, walking, and cycling, and in the new normal, they must be given more road space, to save lives and prevent injuries."

President Rodrigo Duterte's weekly report to Congress on Monday night also read: "The primary goal of the bike lines is to promote the use of non-motorized (sic.) mode of transportation without compromising the health and safety of cyclists in response to the current public health emergency."

“The use of bicycles as a mode of transportation is already beginning to become popular. We call on the motorists to get used to this by starting to respect the intended users of bicycle lanes,” Eleazar said.

Several LGUs, including Quezon City, Pasig City and Taguig City, have already designated bicycle lanes on some roads while the transportation department, public works department, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority began constructing a bicycle lane along EDSA on June 13.

Eleazar said the national police's Highway Patrol Group, along with local commanders, should begin checking of bicycle lanes as part of their regular patrols, adding that government agencies should also coordinate "in order to put the ideal barrier to protect bicycle lanes from vehicles."

“The national government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases supports the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation. This is the reason why we welcome the decision of the LGUs to designate bicycles lanes in their areas of responsibility,” Eleazar said. 

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