The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing to build more protected bike lanes across the country this year.
“This year, we are expanding this by at least 470 kilometers more with funding from the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022,” Transportation Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor said during the SM and DOTR launch of Share the Road Campaign on Monday, March 6.
In the past three years, Pastor said that they have built 564 kilometers of protected bike lanes “that are compliant with international standards in urban cities nationwide.”
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the budget for the expansion of bike lanes is P700 million.
“We will continue this crusade for the Active Transport agenda, as we have commenced this launching and embark on a challenging yet fulfilling mission of consistently educating, informing, and empowering our citizens on the vital role of Active Transport—its policies, infrastructure, and protocols,” the transport chief said.
To further enhance the active transport initiative, Pastor also asked the public to respect the rights of cyclists and pedestrians on the road.
“We need the support of everyone. We need every Filipino to adopt and accept the mindset that every cyclist, every pedestrian has an equal share on the road,” Pastor said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced most public transportation systems to shut down or operate in limited capacities in 2020, many Filipinos were encouraged to use bicycles as a mode of transportation.
The number of bicycle-related road mishaps, however, increased by 42% in 2020, according to data from the Metro Manila Development Authority.
The data shows that 2,503 bicycle-related road accidents were recorded in Metro Manila that year, compared to 2019’s 1,759.
Meanwhile, in 2021, the number of bicycle-related road accidents was 2,397, a 4% decrease from the previous year.
Despite the decrease in the number of accidents, 33 people died in that year—the highest in the last nine years.
Last month, cyclists and other transport groups protested the removal of “gold standard” bike lanes along Ayala Avenue in Makati City.
These infrastructures were supposed to be converted into shared lane markings or “sharrows” to accommodate more public utility vehicles.
Cyclists and commuters said that the removal of bike lanes “has dashed the hopes of many road users for safer streets in our cities.”
Following a series of protests, the removal of bike lanes was postponed to the first week of March until the Makati City government later announced that it would retain the bike lanes in Ayala Avenue.
In April 2022, some Filipinos called for more bike-friendly lanes to be established in Metro Manila. This appeal came after the Social Weather Stations survey showed that bicycle owners outnumber those with cars.