The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to improve walkways and bicycle lanes across the National Capital Region (NCR) after the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) approved its Active Transport Infrastructure Improvement Program (ATIIP).
In a statement on Friday, the DOTr said a dry run of the ATIIP will include improvements on road configuration, “widening of pedestrian walkways and protected bi-directional bike lanes.”
“The project forms part of the DOTr and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) joint partnership aimed at enhancing the overall active transport infrastructure along EDSA — particularly in Santolan, Ortigas, and Shaw,” it said.
The project was approved during an alignment meeting at the MMDA’s Makati Office led by MMDA General Manager Ret. P/Col. Procopio Lipana and Assistant General Manager for Operations lawyer Victor Pablo Trinidad on Tuesday.
The DOTr is committed to executing the strategies set out in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 which was approved by President [Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. last December 16, 2022. In the PDP 2023-2028, pedestrians and cyclists will be accorded the highest priority in the hierarchy of road users, the statement said.
In addition to improving the safety and comfort of pedestrians and cyclists, the ATIIP aims to encourage motorists to leave their vehicles at home with the goal of improving vehicular traffic in NCR.
Senator Raffy Tulfo earlier filed Senate Bill 1698 or the Bicycle Act, which mandates the creation of a local bikeways office (LBO) to head the establishment of bike-related infrastructures.
“The pandemic boosted demand for bicycles, with people using them to commute, for exercise instead of going to gyms and to get some fresh air. Keen to stay fit and keep clear of infection, commuters around the world have turned to bicycles to get around during the coronavirus pandemic,” read the bill’s explanatory note.
The measure will update local ordinances, such as the one implemented in Marikina City in 1996 that allows the use of all streets, avenues, alleys, sidewalks, bridges, parks, and other public places as bicycle lanes.
“The national government firmly believes that the only way traffic congestion will be solved along EDSA and all other metropolitan areas in the country is through building better and more active transport and mass transportation systems,” it said.
Tulfo’s measure will update local ordinances, such as the one implemented in Marikina City in 1996 that allows the use of all streets, avenues, alleys, sidewalks, bridges, parks, and other public places as bicycle lanes.
Other cities and municipalities have since emulated Marikina, especially since the pandemic when the demand for bicycles soared.
The bill seeks to provide a framework for a bicycle law on a national level so that Filipino commuters may find a cheaper alternative to get to their destination while saving the environment from harmful emissions.
Under the bill, all main roads and highways shall be provided with bicycle lanes or bikeways identified by the LBO and under the supervision of the city or municipal engineering office.
The LBO will be an adjunct of the city or municipal engineering office and will manage the construction and maintenance of a bikeway network, including the identification of a bikeway roadmap; establish the provision of safe and strategic parking facilities, road signage, and maps, including the planting of trees in designated areas of the network; encourage partnership with local and foreign organizations to facilitate easy access to bicycles; conduct education and information drives on the benefits of using bicycles; and cause all bicycles operating on the bikeways to be registered and determine therefore the manner of such registration.
The LBO must maintain and keep a bicycle registry within 60 days.
Each city or municipality must provide parking areas funded by the local government unit by allocating 30 percent of their revenues from miscellaneous activities, such as parking and license fees.
On the part of the cyclist, aside from following road regulations, the rider shall keep one hand on the handlebar at all times; always wear a helmet properly where the chin strap is securely fastened; not cling to another vehicle while in the designated bikeway; not park in areas other than those specifically designated; not ride the bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk; and not carry anything on the bicycle unless it is in a basket, bag, rack, or trailer designed for that purpose.
Prohibited under the measure are modified bicycles on the bikeways or that which make the hands higher than the shoulders when gripping the handlebars; ownership or custody of a bicycle, which has a destroyed, removed, altered, covered or defaced serial number; and operating a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable.