Calls to support active transport made after ‘Tour of the Fireflies’ biking parade

November 16, 2022 - 6:24 PM
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Snapshots of the 22nd Tour of the Fireflies at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay on November 13, 2022 (Ayala Malls Manila Bay/Facebook)

A previous cycling event that drew in a crowd of bikers strengthened calls for the government to support active transport in the country.

A non-government organization called Firefly Brigade held a massive biking event called “Tour of the Fireflies” at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay in Parañaque City last November 13.

This has been an annual biking parade since 2000 until it was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Reports said that this year’s comeback saw thousands of cyclists journey from Ayala Malls Manila Bay to Quezon City last Sunday.

Under the theme “ReCycle,” the organizers and the participants aim to promote the use of bicycles for transportation. They also call on the government to promote their safe use to the public.

Photos that showed the large parade of bikers quickly made rounds on social media after the event.

These posts also led to talks about the benefits of using bicycles for a healthier, sustainable society.

“More bicycles mean less traffic and healthier citizen, higher economic growth long-term,” one Facebook user said.

“Sana dumami pa ang mahikayat na gumamit ng active transport, gaya ng pagbibisikleta. Kasabay non, sana mas mag-focus na sila (government) sa pagtatayo ng infrastructure para sa mga pedestrian at siklista,” another Facebook user commented.

Mobility advocate Ken Abante pointed out that the number of bikers who joined the parade serves as proof for the government to prioritize the growing community of bikers.

Abante expressed this in a quote-retweet to a photo by photojournalist Jilson Tiu.

“The photo reflects the space government must give cyclists in our spaces and the budget we must allocate for our growing community,” Abante said.

“Congress has budgeted a tiny P1 billion for 29% of households, despite cycling doubling in two years! Bike owners outnumber car owners 4 to 1,” his tweet further reads.

Abante was referring to reports that stated there are four bicycle owners to every car owner, citing data from nine national surveys that Social Weather Station conducted between May 2020 and April 2021.

READ: Survey showing bicycle owners outnumber those with cars revives calls to fix NCR bike lanes 

He also bared that the government had only proposed as much as P4.2 billion in the National Expenditure Program for 2023 to resolve the country’s transport crisis.

The proposed budget of public transport advocates

Under his tweet, Abante also shared a copy of the proposed budget statement of Move As One Coalition, a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocate for safer and inclusive public transportation in the country.

In a statement, the coalition said that the current transport crisis puts people at risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

“The shortage has contributed to our largest economic recession since the Second World War — as workers and frontliners struggle to get to work. The transport shortage and lack of budgetary support have also contributed to record-high transport inflation and job losses. The economic output of the transport sector has also not yet recovered from the pandemic,” it said.

The organization, therefore, proposed a P306 billion allocation that will cover the following:

  • Fund and prioritize pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
  • Pay our transport workers better through better service contracts and higher equity subsidies for them to undertake a just transition
  • Expand public transport supply

“This can form part of the government’s infrastructure spending target of 5% of GDP, to fund safe, humane, and inclusive public transport in the Philippines,” MAOC said.