“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. #