A transport coalition gave suggestions for safer streets amid the looming removal of dedicated bike lines in Makati City.
Starting February 15, bike lanes along Ayala Avenue will be changed into shared lane markings or “sharrows” to accommodate public utility vehicles in the city.
Makati It Makati, a collaboration of the city government, Ayala Land Inc. and the Makati Commercial Estate Association Inc. (MACEA), issued this advisory to commuters and residents on February 10.
It cited the growing number of commuters returning to Makati City as the reason for this move.
“Currently, only one lane along Ayala Avenue is allotted for PUVs which is no longer sufficient because of the higher volume of commuters returning to the city given the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions,” the advisory reads.
“The initiative is being done to better serve the commuting public and in preparation for the provision of more and bigger transit sheds along Ayala Avenue,” it added.
Cyclists and other active transport advocates strongly opposed this move. They pointed out that shared lanes pose more danger on all road users than their safety.
A large parade of cyclists was also staged last Sunday, February 12 along the major road in protest of the upcoming “sharrow” implementation.
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The unity statement
Last February 11, Move As One Coalition released a unity statement that opposes the removal of bike lanes in different parts of Metro Manila.
It has currently gathered nearly 200 individual signatures and 39 organization signatures.
“We stand united as ordinary citizens, car owners, commuters, transport workers, cyclists, electric kick scooters and active mobility users, delivery workers, office workers, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, health care workers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, women, parents, children, teachers, students, and business owners,” the statement reads.
“We refuse to be divided and pitted against each other. We want just one thing: to arrive at our destinations and come home safe. We want to have safer streets where any person can feel safe to walk, bike, go on a wheelchair, commute, and even drive safely,” it added.
The coalition also invited the public to directly send their respective local government units (LGU) a message about the importance of bike lanes and safer roads.
The unity statement came from the perspectives of different individuals. These include car owners, pedestrians, cyclists, delivery riders and healthcare workers.
It also listed suggestions on how LGUs can implement policies to make streets and roads safe for all. Some of these are as follows:
- Protected bike lanes
- Wider allotted space for bike lanes
- Accessible and wider walkways and sidewalks
- Properly designed transport stops
- Well-maintained roads without potholes
- Urban shade trees
- Accessible ramps
- At-grade crossings
- Bike parks
- Safe crossings
The rest of the statement can be read and signed here Protected Bike Lanes Protect Us All – Google Docs.
The bicycle became an alternative mode of transportation during the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
However, even after the pandemic restrictions eased, several Filipinos still use bikes to get around Metro Manila.
The biking community even grew in number. A report said that a survey from Social Weather Stations showed that more households in the Philippines own bicycles than private vehicles from May 2020 to April 2022.
This news, therefore, strengthened the clamor for safer biking and transport infrastructures in the region.