Bills promote bicycle use

THE House Committee on Transportation has approved bills that promote the use of bicycle as an alternative mode of transportation.

One of the measures is the proposal of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco which seeks to establish bike-friendly communities across the country to help the commuting public deal with the “new normal” in terms of mobility.

House Bill 4493 proposed the wide-ranging ways to establish lanes that are friendly to and safe for bicycle users and reinforce the use of bicycle as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation.

Velasco pointed out that with the limited availability of mass transport system even in areas under the general community quarantine, it becomes a “new normal” for commuters to use bicycles as a primary mode of transportation.

“Now, with the COVID19 pandemic and the public health standards calling for social distancing, we find a heavier and more urgent impetus for the passage of this bill into law,” Velasco, a biker himself, said.

“In this new normal and the social distancing restrictions on mass transportation systems, promoting the use of bicycles is an effective means of transportation and satisfies an individual’s safety protocols. Through biking, social distancing in our roads can easily be achieved and its health benefits to cyclists and our environment are immeasurable,” he added.

Under Velasco’s Bisikleta Para saKinabukasan measure, the Marinduque representative pushes for establishment of bike-friendly communities through the National Bike Program with the Department of Transportation as the lead agency; development of bicycles lanes in all primary and secondary roads nationwide; designation of bicycle racks for parking in all public places, government offices, schools, major business establishments, including malls, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and the like; construction of bicycle support facilities such as sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, traffic signs, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvement, and traffic diversion improvements; and educational program and information dissemination.

He wants to explore the idea and propose an overhead bike lane traversing river tributaries like the Pasig River or Marikina River.

In the case of the proposed Pasig River overhead bike lane, it will cross several cities, namely Manila, Makati, Taguig, Mandaluyong and Pasig, similar to the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and the US—home to the world’s most bike-friendly communities.

According to Velasco, establishing overhead bike lanes, which can be undertaken through the build-operate-transfer scheme, along the Pasig River or Marikina River are not just eco-friendly and safer alternative routes but also sustainable projects with potential to earn income for the government by leasing advertising spaces along the bike lanes.