BOAC, Marinduque – The Committee on Transportation of the House of Representatives has approved several bike bills, including a proposal put forward by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco which seeks to establish bike-friendly communities across the country to help the commuting public deal with the “new normal” in terms of mobility.
In the hearing of the transportation panel on Thursday led by committee chairperson Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento of Samar, Velasco detailed in his sponsorship speech for House Bill No. 4493 wide-ranging ways on how to establish lanes that are friendly to and safe for bicycle users and reinforce the use of bicycle as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation.
With the limited availability of mass transport system even in areas under the general community quarantine, it becomes a “new normal” for commuters to use bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, he said.
“Now, with the COVID19 pandemic and the public health standards calling for social distancing, we find a heavier and more urgent impetus for the passage of this bill into law,” said Velasco, who is a biker himself.
“In this new normal and the social distancing restrictions on mass transportation systems, promoting the use of bicycles is an effective means of transportation and satisfies an individual’s safety protocols. Through biking, social distancing in our roads can easily be achieved and its health benefits to cyclists and our environment are immeasurable,” he pointed out.
Under Velasco’s Bisikleta Para sa Kinabukasan measure, the Marinduque representative pushes for:
- Establishment of bike-friendly communities through the National Bike Program with the Department of Transportation as the lead agency;
development of bicycles lanes in all primary and secondary roads nationwide;
- Designation of bicycle racks for parking in all public places, government offices, schools, major business establishments, including malls, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and the like;
- Construction of bicycle support facilities such as sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, traffic signages, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvement, and traffic diversion improvements; and
- Educational program and information dissemination.
“This representation would like to explore the idea and propose an overhead bike lane traversing river tributaries like the Pasig River or Marikina River. In the case of the proposed Pasig River overhead bike lane, it will cross several cities, namely Manila, Makati, Taguig, Mandaluyong and Pasig,” Velasco said, similar to the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and the US—home to the world’s most bike-friendly communities.
According to Velasco, establishing overhead bike lanes, which can be undertaken through the build-operate-transfer scheme, along the Pasig River or Marikina River are not just eco-friendly and safer alternative routes, but are also sustainable projects with potential to earn income for the government by leasing advertising spaces along the bike lanes.
Velasco’s proposal for overhead bike lanes was supported by Sarmiento, who said that construction of such could be considered a big-ticket project that may be included in the proposed multibillion-peso stimulus program of the government designed to kickstart the economy slumped by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic right now but we have also seen small victories like cleaner air, clearer skies, with less volume of vehicles on the road. People are beginning to see the benefits and the potential of bicycles as an alternative, safe and healthier mode of transportation,” concluded Velasco. (PIA-MIMAROPA/RAMJR)