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MMDA told: Metro Manila needs more bike and motorcycle lanes, wider sidewalks

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MMDA told: Metro Manila needs more bike and motorcycle lanes, wider sidewalks
Armed with plastic sheets and raincoats, bike commuters brave the morning drizzle while crossing the EDSA-Aurora Boulevard intersection in Quezon City as they head for work on Thursday.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — As fuel prices continue to rise, a group of transport experts and advocates said that many car users will likely reduce their travel by private vehicle while more people will want to travel by motorcycles, bicycles, walking, and public transport, which would need better infrastructure for the commuting public.  

In a statement sent to reporters, the Move as One transport coalition urged the Metro Manila Development Authority to prioritize active and public transport, saying “there are many good reasons for Government to support this shift toward walking, cycling, and public transport."

"It is crucial that public transport receives immediate support so that operators and drivers continue operations at affordable fare levels. Considering also the fact that car owners represent a very small minority, the government needs to do all it can to protect vulnerable road users — those on foot, on bicycles, and on motorcycles — by giving them a larger share of road space," the letter addressed to newly-minted MMDA chairman Romando Artes reads. 

"Roads need to serve the majority of Filipinos. At this time, most roads are designed for the use of four-wheeled motor vehicles, despite the fact that, nationwide, the percentage of households owning cars is very small."

The coalition sent its letter Wednesday recommending the following for EDSA:

  • Dedicating one full car lane for motorcycles; 
  • Dedicating one full car lane for bicycles (bi-directional protected lane); and
  • Widening the sidewalks and planting more trees in these sidewalks in each direction for the safety of vulnerable road users, in line with the specific directives in the 2022 General Appropriations Act.

"In each direction (on both sides of the road), there should be the equivalent of one full lane devoted to bicycles—it should be a bi-directional protected lane so that faster cyclists can pass slower cyclists and so that cyclists do not have to cross mixed traffic and go across several car lanes in order to turn left or make a U-turn," the coalition also recommended. 

"There should also be either physical protection like barriers or enforcement of safe speeds for motorcyclists to prevent dangerous altercations between motorcyclists and cyclists."

The transport group added that while roads and road space should be shared by all users, the safety of vulnerable road users is also a top priority. "To better enforce road-sharing principles, violations should just not be a warning or reprimand but result in corresponding fines," it said. 

Both the 2022 General Appropriations Act and the budgets of the MMDA, Department of Private Works and Highways, and the DOTr having provisions promoting the mobility of people and the construction of infrastructure to support active transportation. Under the national budget, there is also a requirement that at least 50% of road space be allocated to pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport.

Move as One also pointed to the results of a May 2021 national survey by the Social Weather Stations which estimates that: 5% of households own a 4-wheeled motor vehicle, 20% of households own a bicycle, while 36% of households own a motorcycle. The same survey estimated that 36% of households in the National Capital Region own bicycles compared with only 11.5% of households with cars.

"We believe that EDSA requires an approach that advances 'people mobility' so that a larger number of people can travel with greater safety and efficiency, especially the majority of Filipinos who are not private car users," Move as One said.

"Let’s not allow this crisis to go to waste when it presents us with a golden opportunity to move people, not cars, in our country."

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

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