To make the country’s transportation system truly sustainable, policies promoting alternative means of mobility like walking and biking should be complemented by efficient mass transport systems.
Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation and Futures Thinking, at the continuation of the joint Senate hearing on proposals seeking to establish sustainable transportation systems in the country.
“Aside from promoting bikes, we will really need to prioritize [long-distance travels], because naka-tie up talaga itong lahat. Inasmuch as I am a biker by practice, we also need to complement this with other sustainable modes of mass transportation,” she explained.
“These include the bus rapid transit (BRT), integration of our railway systems, and the use of ferries on major waterways like Pasig [river] and Laguna [lake]. Hindi pa natin nama-maximize ‘yun,” Cayetano pointed out.
At the hearing held on Tuesday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) presented its proposed projects on sustainable transport, including low-carbon, modern urban transport systems, the EDSA Busway and Greenway projects, establishment of bike lanes, bike sharing in local communities, and the Cebu BRT project.
In response, Cayetano urged DOTr to come up with a comprehensive plan and timeframe for all transport-related programs, including their respective budget proposals, to ensure that such initiatives will be in line with the SDGs and AmBisyon Natin 2040.
“I’d also like to see the plans of PNR (Philippine National Railways), the complete plans for MRT, LRT – anything that has to do with the shift towards sustainability, I’d like it to be presented.”
“At this point in time, we are way past the examples… We really need [the projects] to be rolled out. And we need the support of DOF (Department of Finance) and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority). I need them all to be on board… When I sponsor this measure, I [should] know what is already happening and what still needs to be pushed,” the senator stated.
Meanwhile, Cayetano also stressed the need to have better collaboration among agencies in government to make sure all factors related to sustainable transportation, including the health, environment, and energy aspects, are well taken into account.
“We need to tie this in to the recommendations of other experts para makita talaga natin… what is the ill effect of being stranded in traffic for so many hours… on mental and physical health… on pollution caused by our usual urban transportation. Those are all factors that we’d like to put numbers to,” she said.
“That is precisely why the Senate came up with this Committee… so that agencies can have one [panel] overseeing the overlapping issues. That’s also why it is so crucial to me that the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources weigh in on these bills… I really want to bring into the picture [the impacts of transportation on health and the environment].” #
Crossing party-lines, members of the majority and minority blocs in the Senate have expressed their support for the “Safe Pathways Act” (SBN 1582), the measure being pushed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano to establish a network of bicycle lanes throughout the country.
The bill’s supporters include Senator Francis Tolentino, who established bike lanes in Metro Manila during his stint as chairperson of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The senator also recently filed Senate Resolution No. 411 urging appropriate government agencies to designate, develop, and improve bicycle lanes in the metropolis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am more than willing to sponsor this measure [SBN 1582]. I join the good sponsor in dreaming that in the next few weeks [or] days, [we will] have permanent bike lanes in Metro Manila,” Tolentino said following Cayetano’s sponsorship speech on World Bicycle Day (June 3).
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, described the bill as a “timely measure”, adding that he has a “personal attachment” to the proposal as his home city, Iloilo, had long established dedicated bicycle lanes, which he hopes to be a model nationwide.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, for his part, said: “Like the Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking (Cayetano), I am also a cycling enthusiast. I am happy that we are giving priority to our bicycle riders by giving them lanes. This is why I strongly support this bill and I hope we pass this.”
Senator Richard Gordon also thanked Cayetano for leading the initiative towards promoting bicycles and other modes of sustainable transportation. He said this could be an opportunity for the country to boost its own bicycle industry and in turn create more jobs for Filipinos.
“I join the lovely sponsor in support of this lovely bill that will make us lovely people,” Gordon stated.
Another member of the minority bloc, Senator Risa Hontiveros, likewise backed SBN 1582: “I would like to express my support to this bill authored and sponsored by Senator Pia, and join [her] as well in this realizable hope that this act establishing pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways will help evolve the infrastructure for these bicycle lanes becoming a permanent feature of our urban centers and cities.”
In addition, Senators Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Bong Revilla, Manny Pacquiao, Sonny Angara, and Joel Villanueva, have expressed their intent to be co-sponsors and/or co-authors of the bill.#
“The time is now… We can seize the moment and institutionalize policy changes that will leave our children with cleaner air [and] a healthier future with bike lanes, pedestrian lanes, and emergency pathways.”
Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano as she sponsored a bill seeking to create a network of protected bicycle lanes and walkways for the use of frontliners and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and even beyond.
The Chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano sponsored Senate Bill No. 1582 or the “Safe Pathways Act,” in time for the global celebration of World Bicycle Day on June 3 (Wednesday).
She stressed that now is the best time to push for the passage of the measure promoting sustainable transportation, as the country has been forced into a ‘New Normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In lieu of buses, trains, and cabs, many, including our very own health care workers and frontliners, have turned to more resilient and safer ‘alternatives’ like biking and walking,” the senator said in her sponsorship speech, adding that cities around the world have already set up bike lanes to facilitate people’s mobility during the crisis.
Following the disruptions caused by COVID-19, Cayetano said there is now an urgent need for the government to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians through proper infrastructure.
“The fact that most of our healthcare workers and frontliners are using these modes of transportation stresses the urgency of our call. Every day, they face risks apart from COVID-19, as they continue to traverse unsafe roads while going to work. We need to protect them,” she stated.
Under SBN 1582, a network of pop-up bicycle lanes shall be created to connect users to essential destinations like medical facilities, among others. The bill shall also create a designated network of emergency pathways along local roads, to give pedestrians, cyclists, and non-motorized vehicle users safe and convenient access to frequented destinations.
Public places, offices, schools, and commercial establishments shall provide adequate parking spaces for bicycles and non-motorized vehicles. The public and private sectors are called to develop other related infrastructure, including parking lots, showers, changing areas, and hydration facilities.
Finally, appropriate agencies shall be mandated to permanently adopt these networks of bike lanes and walkways even after the pandemic, as part of the government’s long-term solution to address congestion and pollution. #
Sponsorship speech on the Safe Pathways Act (SBN 1582 under Committee Report 101)
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Delivered on June 3, 2020 (World Bicycle Day)
Mr. President and my dear colleagues, I come before you today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1582 under Committee Report No. 101, otherwise known as the “Safe Pathways Act”, taking into consideration Senate Bill No. 1518 filed by this representation, and Senate Resolution No. 411 filed by Senator Francis Tolentino.
I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues, Senator Grace Poe, who expressed her intent to be a co-author and co-sponsor of this bill, and Senator Francis Tolentino, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Senator Sonny Angara, who are co-authors of this measure.
There is no better time to sponsor this measure than today, as we join other nations in celebrating World Bicycle Day (June 3).
Mr. President, as a health advocate, biker, and triathlete, I have been fighting for this cause for as long as I can remember.
For almost a decade, I have been advocating for bike lanes and sustainable transportation. I filed my first Sustainable Transportation Bill in this chamber, with the help and support of my fellow advocates in 2011. I refiled similar bills in succeeding Congresses.
The benefits of cycling and walking are known to many, if not all, and yet, many metropolitan centers like ours fail to change gears and disrupt the current transportation system, even if that system does not work.
Fast forward to today… Suddenly, we are living in the time of COVID-19, which has forced us into a new normal. All over the world, public transportation systems were shut down in an effort to flatten the curve. But people have adapted. In lieu of buses, trains, and cabs, many, including our very own health [care] workers and frontliners, have turned to more resilient and safer ‘alternatives’ like biking and walking.
The World Health Organization, in its technical guidance on moving around during the pandemic, advocated cycling and walking as an alternative for people to “reach workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs, or provide assistance to [the] vulnerable.”
In Europe, China, and the United States, and all over, urban cycling networks surged after lockdowns were imposed. In cities like New York, Mexico, and Berlin, they set up temporary bicycle lanes to facilitate people’s mobility.
And Mr. President, amid the continuous threats of COVID-19, we are gradually realizing the upside to our shift towards sustainable transportation.
The decrease in the number of motorized vehicles has allowed us to see the clear blue skies, a sight we have missed in the cities for years… Environmental groups and government agencies, including our own Department of Environment and Natural Resources, confirm that the air is cleaner.
In a time of high anxiety, biking and walking provide more comfort as it is easier to social distance this way. They also promise better physical and mental wellbeing because of the physical activity involved. Moreover, the cost of buying and maintaining a bike is very low compared to owning a private vehicle and even commuting.
Sustainable transportation is now part of the new normal, and we welcome this change in people’s mindset. But we cannot simply put cyclists and pedestrians on the road without ensuring their safety. We need to be able to support them with the right infrastructure, which we sadly lack in our car-centric streets.
I bring the attention of the body to the photo, which is a photo of medical frontliners from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. They are testing out the new bicycles donated through the Life Cycles PH community.
The fact that most of our healthcare workers and frontliners are using these modes of transportation stresses the urgency of our call. Every day, they face risks apart from COVID-19, as they continue to traverse unsafe roads while going to work. We need to protect them.
Mr. President, this is the objective of the measure we are proposing today.
The Safe Pathways Bill seeks to create a network of pop-up bicycle lanes that can be used by our essential workers during the pandemic. The lanes shall strictly be for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles, and shall connect users to essential destinations like medical facilities, among others. The lanes shall also have enough space to accommodate one-meter physical distancing.
One of the recommendations made by Dr. Antonio Dans from the UP College of Medicine is to prioritize building loops of bikeway systems that link roads along hospitals, such as those within the City of Manila. This will guarantee that our frontliners will remain safe even before they reach the hospitals where they work.
This objective of our proposed measure is aligned with the call of our colleague, Senator Francis Tolentino, who filed Senate Resolution 411 urging the DPWH, DILG, and MMDA to designate, develop, and improve bicycle lanes in Metro Manila, which transitioned to General Community Quarantine beginning last Monday, June 1.
The bill shall also create a designated network of emergency pathways along local roads, to give pedestrians, cyclists, and non-motorized vehicle users safe and convenient access to frequented destinations. Motorized vehicle passage shall be restricted in these pathways during peak hours.
Meanwhile, public places, government offices, schools, places of work, and commercial establishments like malls, banks, and hospitals shall provide adequate parking spaces for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles.
The public and private sectors shall develop the necessary infrastructure and facilities to promote the use of these modes of transportation, including parking spaces, showers, changing areas, and hydration facilities.
Furthermore, the bill mandates cyclists and other non-motorized vehicle users to obey existing traffic laws, rules, and regulations.
As Chair of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, I am also duty-bound to ensure that the government remains cognizant of its goals of creating a more sustainable future for all. This bill shall mandate our appropriate agencies to permanently adopt these networks of bike lanes and walkways even after the pandemic, as part of our long-term solution to address congestion and pollution.
The call of our advocates in the health, environment, and even sports sectors is stronger now than ever before. Various government agencies, both local and national, have expressed their commitment to immediately implement our proposals; some cities have made their own initiatives, like Taguig and Iloilo.
Iloilo City has a dedicated bike lane along its Diversion Road and on selected thoroughfares in the downtown area. Its bike lane stretches more than 11 kilometers. Taguig City also has a 6.9-kilometer protected bike lane on the stretch of Laguna Lake Highway in Bicutan.
Our bike lane is also separate from the pedestrian sidewalk, and then there is also a permanent lane that separates these bike lanes from the road used by motor vehicles for protection, as you can see in the photo.
Moreover, in time for the World Bicycle Day today, the Taguig City government has set up additional bike lanes along Cayetano Boulevard and Bayani Road. It is also set to launch a comprehensive bike program, which includes the creation of an office dedicated to biking, the establishment of new bike routes in the city, and a bike lending program for city employees.
Mr. President, the time is now. This crisis presents us with opportunities we must take now. We can seize the moment and institutionalize policy changes that will leave our children with cleaner air, a healthier future with bike lanes, pedestrian lanes, and emergency pathways.
Thank you! #
Building safe networks of bicycle lanes in the country stands to benefit frontline workers, including those in delivery services for food and other essential items.
At the same time, bike lanes could open new income opportunities for Filipinos as essential services sectors have been employing bike riders for their short-distance deliveries.
This was among the key takeaways of Senator Pia S. Cayetano from her panel’s first public hearing on proposals to accelerate policies promoting sustainable transportation.
The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which Cayetano chairs, conducted a hearing on Thursday (May 28) to discuss with government officials, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders the need for a comprehensive infrastructure plan for sustainable modes of transportation, including biking, walking, and non-motorized transportation (NMTs).
Among the senator’s proposals is the immediate establishment of pop-up bike lanes and walkways in Metro Manila’s major roads, following the imposition of safety restrictions on the public transport system that prompted more Filipinos to turn to alternatives like biking or walking.
Grab Philippines President Brian Cu, who was among the resource persons in the hearing, supported plans to improve the country’s road network for cyclists, stressing that it would benefit the company’s delivery partners who use bikes.
Around seven percent of GrabFood and GrabExpress active rider-partners are cyclists, Cu cited. Currently, they are allowed to accept bookings within a 1.5-kilometer radius, which is half the distance allowed for Grab riders using motorcycles (3 km).
However, Cu noted that both riders take the same delivery time on an average, one of the reasons for which is the lack of access to safe pathways for those using bikes. He also raised the issue of safety for Grab bikers.
As such, he said Grab Philippines is supportive of current proposals being heard in the Senate on setting up networks of protected bicycle lanes in the country, to be utilized during the pandemic and after.
“We support this discussion about creating specific pathways for bikers, so they don’t have to worry about their safety on the road. [Moreover,] it will definitely help speed up travel time [for Grab bikers] and potentially increase the radius that they cover, which leads to higher incomes,” he explained.
He added that apart from benefiting existing delivery partners, the initiative could also encourage more Filipinos to be Grab bikers.
“Adding safer networks of roads and better paths [for cyclists] can allow more individuals to join our platform. They can join at a very low cost, but still make very decent living,” Cu said, citing that Grab bikers earn around 45 percent above the minimum wage.
Cayetano, for her part, backed Cu’s statement on the need to improve our road system for cyclists to ensure their safety as well as to generate new and more livelihood opportunities for Filipinos during this health crisis.
“I am sure there are many more opportunities that we can give for Filipino cyclists, one of which is through your platform. But there are a lot of unmet needs as far as delivery by bicycles is concerned. I am happy to hear [your inputs] and be reminded of the need to address these,” Cayetano said.
“Now is really the time for people to have income opportunities. And something as basic as decent and safe biking skills could provide jobs for them… We have to be able to support them with the right infrastructure,” she added.
The senator recently filed Senate Bill No. 1518 or the “Safe Pathways Act,” which seeks to create a network of pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways connecting people to essential destinations during the lockdowns, while still ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.
Moreover, adequate parking spaces for bicycles and non-motorized vehicles shall be set up in all public places, government offices, schools, places of work, and commercial establishments, including malls, banks, and hospitals.
Lastly, the bill shall mandate appropriate government agencies to prepare the permanent adoption of the established bike lanes, emergency pathways, non-motorized parking spaces, and other appropriate infrastructure, after COVID-19 is no longer a threat. #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is supporting a proposal that would prioritize the establishment of pop-up bicycle lanes and emergency pathways in roads connecting to hospitals, which will serve as safety loops for healthcare workers and frontliners reporting for work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking conducted a hearing on Thursday (May 28) to discuss proposals seeking to promote sustainable modes of transportation in the country, including biking, walking, and non-motorized transportation or NMTs.
Dr. Antonio Dans, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine, made an appeal to government agencies to prioritize building a “loop” of bikeway systems that would link roads along several hospitals in Metro Manila.
“My appeal is when we build these loops [of safe pathways], we think of our healthcare workers,” Dr. Dans said, noting that healthcare workers are in a “special situation” since they need to practice more safety precautions and social distancing measures in the time of COVID-19.
“Since we are [already] thinking about how to build these [bike lanes and walkways], maybe we can start in areas near hospitals to improve frontliners’ access [to their places of work],” he added.
The proposal seeks to benefit frontliners working in four hospitals in Manila: the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) along Taft Ave., the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center along Quirino Ave., and the Manila Doctors Hospital and Manila Medical Center, both along United Nations Ave.
The six-kilometer loop shall serve as a “safe haven” to ensure frontliners’ safety while going to work on their bikes. Dr. Dans said nearly a quarter of PGH’s hospital staff have requested for bicycles as their access to work had been limited due to the cancellation of public transport.
“We hope that our policymakers, the local government units (LGUs), and even officials at the executive branch, would give us this option to get to work safely during the COVID-19 crisis and after,” he said.
Cayetano, for her part, expressed her full support for the proposal, stressing that priority should really be given to initiatives that would ensure the safety of all frontliners who are leading our fight against the virus.
“We need to protect the people that protect us. I want to help address this need to establish safe pathways for our frontline workers,” she stated, adding that similar hospital loops can be allotted in areas with a big concentration of hospitals like Quezon City.
It should be recalled that last month, Dr. Maria Teresa Dajao, a medical officer of the Manila city government, was killed after she was hit by a truck while biking home from frontline duty.
Cayetano recently filed Senate Bill No. 1518 or the “Safe Pathways Act,” which shall create a network of pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways to connect people to essential destinations during the pandemic, all while ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.
She earlier said that the bill’s primary objective is to provide safe spaces and priority lanes for frontliners going to work through biking or walking. Some of these pathways may even directly lead to hospitals, Cayetano had earlier explained.
“We want to be able to protect all of our frontliners; even the hospital staff exposed to admin work and cleaning services, the security personnel, the barangays workers, and so on. We need to keep finding ways to keep them all safe, which also means keeping our roads safe for them to travel on,” the senator said.
Apart from her legislative work, Cayetano had started the Pilipinas In Action initiative, which recently launched the “Buy A Bike” project where donors can pledge for bicycle sets to be donated to COVID-19 workers. The initiative was able to donate bikes to PGH staff, in coordination with Dr. Dans.
Meanwhile, the senator also commended the PGH for its plan to construct its own bike parking lot for employees.
“We really have to be able to promote these sustainable modes of transportation in the country with the right infrastructure. We should seize this moment brought about by the crisis to foster this change now,” said Cayetano, who is also the principal author of the National Bicycle Act (SBN 285), and the Sustainable Transportation Act (SBN 66). #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano reiterated her call for government agencies to come up with a holistic action plan governing the use of public roads and transportation during the ‘new normal,’ with priority given to frontliners and essential industry employees reporting back to work.
In an interview with One News’ Cito Beltran, the senator on Friday (May 22) talked about Senate Bill No. 1518 or the ‘Safe Pathways Act,’ which she filed this month to offer alternative modes of transportation and mobility for communities that are gradually being opened up following lockdowns due to the COVID-19 contagion.
Cayetano’s proposal seeks to create a network of pop-up bicycle lanes and emergency pathways that would connect people to essential destinations during the community quarantines, all while ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.
“It’s called the ‘Safe Pathways Act’ since our priority is to ensure the safety for our frontliners who need to get to work during this pandemic. Ideally, the safe spaces and priority lanes for those going to work through biking or walking should be color-coded or barricaded. [The pathways] may even directly lead to hospitals,” Cayetano explained.
She noted that major cities around the world are shifting to alternative modes of transportation, particularly biking, amid concerns that allowing cramped mass transportation systems could trigger a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
“All over the world, people are being more careful and authorities don’t want to risk resuming public transportation since the lack of social distancing leads to the faster spread of the virus. So we now have this golden opportunity to promote biking and walking,” she cited.
A cyclist and a long-time advocate of non-motorized transport, Cayetano stressed the need to set up safer pathways for bicycles and pedestrians as community quarantines are being lifted and public transportation is gradually being restored.
“It’s not just a matter of creating bicycle lanes, considering the way our streets are currently being used. Clear demarcation for cyclists and pedestrians is needed so they would not be eased out once there are more cars on the road,” she said.
She noted that during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole, no less than Secretary Arthur Tugade gave senators the assurance that the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is including bicycles in its plan to establish safer transportation systems during the ‘new normal.’
“The DoTr gave assurance that they are handling it on a holistic level. Because if there would be no coordination involving other modes of public transportation, [then] it’s going to be hard to work because the space is limited,” Cayetano said, adding that the measure she recently filed is also in line with another bill she filed last year, the “Sustainable Transportation Act” (SBN 66).
SBN 66 promotes sustainable and alternative modes of transport – including walking, biking, and efficient mass transportation – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut time and travel costs, and encourage citizens to take on an active and fit lifestyle. #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is urging the government to view the current COVID-19 crisis as a ‘golden opportunity’ to push for a shift to sustainable forms of mobility and transportation, including biking, walking, and other non-motorized means.
Cayetano stressed the point at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Wednesday which tackled the status of government programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We now have this golden opportunity to fast-forward ourselves into the future that should have been part of our present, which is the use of sustainable modes of transportation, including walking, biking, and other non-motorized vehicles,” explained the senator, a biking advocate and triathlete.
The senator said using a bicycle has particularly become essential for workers and frontliners because it offers a safe, efficient, and healthy mode of transport in the ‘new normal.’
She further noted that the current state of the country’s public transport system could not possibly accommodate the huge volume of employees projected to go back to work following the shift to modified enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine status of several regions, including Metro Manila.
“We need more planning and coordination. [It is estimated that] 50-75 percent of the workforce can go back to work physically within a certain period of time. [But] there is no way that our public transportation, as it stands, can sustain them considering the [situation] we are in,” she explained.
“That is why the messaging and the planning for this shift to a sustainable program for transportation must be considered carefully,” she added.
In response, transportation secretary Arthur Tugade said his agency is ready to promote bicycles as an alternative means of travel during the new normal. He added that the Department of Transportation (DoTr) will submit to the Senate its detailed plan to implement this initiative.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano has filed three bills promoting sustainable modes of transportation in the country, namely the Sustainable Transportation Act (Senate Bill No. 66); the Bicycle Act (SBN 285), and the Safe Pathways Act (SBN 1518), which seeks to set up pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways for the use of frontliners and essential workers during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cayetano pressed various government agencies to fast-track the release of guidelines for the operation of public transportation, including the use of alternative modes of travel, in areas under community quarantine.
The senator has called on agencies including the Department of Interior and Local Government and the DOTr to hasten the issuance of guidelines for the use of public transportation, especially in Metro Manila.
“ [The plan] can elaborate what other agencies like DOLE and DTI, local government units, and groups directly working with companies can do to be more mindful of employees’ welfare while commuting to work,” Cayetano noted.
She said employees whose workplaces are within the immediate vicinity of their communities, like 10 kilometers below, should be supported to be able to walk and bike comfortably to work.
“We want to ensure that these people will be biking within a reasonable time, not three hours of biking per day. These are shifts made by other countries in the past. It requires a little bit more planning and rethinking. But this is the perfect time to do it,” she concluded.#