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. #