Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for a law that would officially recognize bicycles as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation throughout the country.
A biking and fitness enthusiast, Cayetano has filed the ‘National Bicycle Act of 2019,’ which shall mandate the development of policies, infrastructure, and facilities to properly integrate bicycles as part of the public transportation system.
“It is time to change our mindset about traffic and find alternative means to move forward from this perennial problem,” Cayetano said of the yet unnumbered bill, which she filed among her second batch of measures for the 18thCongress.
The returning senator said cycling not only offers an efficient means of mobility amid the daily traffic gridlock, but is also an affordable, environment-friendly, and healthy alternative to motor vehicles.
“We should do away with the old thinking that cars are for the rich and bikes are for the poor. Increasingly, we see more people coming to work on two wheels, young and old, from vendors to workers, professionals, and even executives,” the senator observed.
“Many startups are also switching to using bicycles, like courier and food delivery services. Biking is not just a means of leisure or past time, it has become a way of life for many Filipinos,” she added.
Cayetano herself regularly uses a bike to visit and interact more directly with residents in urban communities and to reach far-flung towns and mountain villages in the provinces. She also joins triathlons and bike festivals that highlight local sports and eco-tourism. During the last electoral campaign, cycling groups joined the former Taguig City representative to promote her candidacy and advocacies through her ‘bicycle-cades.’
The senator admitted that the major downside remains safety. “News and social media posts regularly report about bikers being sideswiped or ran over by undisciplined drivers of motor vehicles. And so this is one reason why we need to enact a national policy to ensure the protection of bikers,” she stressed.
Under her bill, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with local government units shall take the lead in designating bicycle lanes, which shall serve as exclusive passage for cyclists. Motor vehicles will be prohibited from being driven or parked on any bike lane.
The bike lanes shall be separated by a physical barrier, whenever possible, and shall be clearly identified with signs or pavement markings. In cases where installation of a physical barrier is not feasible, the lane for bicycles shall be identified through reflectorized painted lines.
Bike promotion measures also include improvements on sidewalks, traffic calming and speed reduction, pedestrian and bicycle crossing, traffic signages covering bicycles, off-street pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and traffic diversion, among others.
Cayetano’s bill mandates all public places, government offices, schools, major business establishments, including malls, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and the like, to provide adequate racks for bike parking and other infrastructure as far as practicable.
Meanwhile, the private sector will be encouraged to develop counterpart infrastructure, facilities and programs to help promote biking.
Aside from the Bicycle Act, Cayetano has also filed complementary measures, namely the Sustainable Transportation Act (SBN 65) and the Sustainable Cities and Communities Act (SBN 66). #