— PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS
GROUPS advocating the use of bicycles and better public transportation called on Congress to increase next year’s budget for setting up protected bike lanes across the country to P14 billion.
In a joint statement on Sunday, celebrated as National Bicycle Day in the country, the groups said the current P2-billion allocation under the proposed 2022 expenditure program is “not enough to support the countless Filipinos throughout the country who have shifted to cycling as everyday transport during the pandemic.”
They said more funds would allow for a more equitable distribution of road space to bicycle and motor vehicle users.
The level of car ownership in the Philippines is the fifth lowest globally, with about 47% of Filipino households not having a private vehicle, according to market research firm Nielsen.
The groups said their proposed P14-billion budget could be allocated to several projects, including the upgrade of half of the existing Bayanihan bike lanes in the major urban areas of Manila, Cebu, and Davao to ensure safety and accessibility.
Part of the fund could be used to establish at least 30 kilometers of protected bike lane networks in each of the 130 cities outside Metro Manila, while strengthening active transport institutions by funding technical assistance facilities.
They also called for the construction of 10,000 public bike racks and bike parking facilities all over the Philippines.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance committee, did not immediately respond to a Viber message seeking comment.
“Without this investment, we will continue to be in this vicious cycle of road crash injuries, death, and inequitable recovery from the pandemic,” the groups said.
The joint statement was signed by Move As One Coalition, Metro Naga Active Transport Community Mobility Awards, MNL Moves, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, Pinay Bike Commuter, 350 Pilipinas, Bikes for the Philippines, Tiklop Society of the Philippines, The Firefly Brigade, Makati Business Club (MBC), MBC Business for Biking Project, Oragon Bikers, Inc., Bicycle Friendly Philippines, and Life Cycles Philippines. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan