Why Manila needs to practice bicycle-sharing more than ever

August 10, 2018 - 12:17 PM
The concept of bicycle-sharing has been around in the Philippines for the past years, although it is not heavily popularized or supported that much. Will a Chinese-based app change that? (Facebook/Mobike)

BEIJING — Pollution and traffic congestion remains one of the most pressing concerns in urbanized regions like Manila, Beijing and Los Angeles.

To solve this problem, countries have started to encourage people to use bicycles as a means of transportation, especially in short to mid-distance travel.

The concept of bicycle-sharing was born to let people travel without leaving carbon footprints and practice an overall healthier lifestyle.

It also solved many of their urban problems on commuting. For example, an individual finds it costly to go by taxi but finds walking too tedious.

One way he could go to his destination is with a bicycle.

Companies have begun to advocate this mode of transportation, particularly in short urban trips.

China, for example, is one of those that has heavily encouraged people to use and share bicycles in their travels.

The country has about 13 bicycle-sharing companies and one of them, Mobike, has been internationally acclaimed by different organizations.

It has been hailed the “Champions of the Earth” by the United Nations for their efforts in promoting an overall greener lifestyle.

Mobike has been operating in over ten countries, including Italy, Japan and Singapore.

A look at the country’s bicycle-sharing initiatives 

While Mobike has not yet announced whether they would operate in the Philippines or not, the country has seen its own initiatives in launching similar bicycle-sharing programs.

In June 2018, Intramuros Administration and Viva Manila partnered with ofo Bike Share to let people explore the Walled City with Carlos Celdran in a “Book Bike Barter Tour.”

People who participated in the “Book Bike Barter Tour” are encouraged to use bicycles from ofo Bike Share in cooperation with Intramuros Administration. (Facebook/Philippine Star)

The tour was promoted to “improve urban transport environment with less-congested traffic and to minimize the hustle and bustle in the metro.”

In August 2015, students from the University of the Philippines created the UP Bike Share that aimed to “provide better transportation for the UPD community.”

In January 2013, the Metro Manila Development Authority opened a 1-kilometer bicycle lane on both sides of the notoriously congested EDSA (from Magallanes to Ayala Avenue) to promote its bicycle-sharing program.

Safety of cyclists and the program’s impact on an already difficult traffic situation on the thoroughfare, however, remained a concern.

In November 2012, Asian Development Bank also launched its own bicycle-sharing program in partnership with Japan.

The project aimed to “improve air quality” and “reduce the rate of pedestrian accidents and fatalities linked with too many private vehicles on the road.”

Efforts to continuously promote bicycle-sharing reached the lower house when Congressmen Karlo and Jericho Nograles called for the immediate passage of the “Bicycle Act of 2016.”

It aims for main roads and highways to have bicycle lanes and to “provide a framework for a bicycle law on a national level.”

The house bill supports the use of bicycles to achieve a healthier lifestyle, help reduce carbon emissions and to “provide an alternative solution to the high prices of fuel, increasing fares, traffic, noise and air pollution, and the high cost of vehicles.”

It was originally filed by Congresswoman Emi Calixto-Rubiano in 2014, where she noted the need to decongest traffic in the metro.

According to her, “Aside from its health and physical rewards from exercise and relieving stress, the use of the bicycle does not only consume fossil fuels but will definitely decongest traffic in the metropolis (sic).”


Editor’s note: The trip to China was hosted by the Chinese embassy to promote tourism. At no stage does the host organization have a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Interaksyon.com following editorial guidelines.