Velasco sees biking as COVID new mode of transport

Fun Bike Ride, one of the activities during the Marinduque centennial celebration happend in February 2020. (File photo of Romeo Mataac, Jr/PIA-Marinduque)

QUEZON CITY, Metro Manila – Marinduqe Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is pushing for the creation of bike-friendly communities across the country through a national bike program to be spearheaded by the transportation and public works departments in order to promote biking as a new way to travel for a safer and healthier lifestyle under the “new normal” scenario.

To be called “Bisikleta Para sa Kinabukasan,” House Bill No. 4493 introduced by Velasco seeks the establishment of proper infrastructures to make biking in Philippine roads safe for all cyclists.

“Post quarantine-scenario, we see biking as the primary mode of transportation of our people owing to the limited public transport aimed at ensuring social distancing,” Velasco said. “The public health emergency is an eye-opener on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and biking is one way of achieving this.”

Citing various studies, Velasco outlined the benefits of biking—whether used for transport, recreation or sport—from reduction of noise and air pollution, road decongestion to relaxation and exercise.

Aside from providing an alternative mode to increase mobility, the measure will address clamor to cut back consumption of gas and diesel and promote a cleaner environment.

According to Velasco, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with local government units, will play a crucial role in crafting a comprehensive plan and in disseminating information to ensure the safety of cyclists and the commuting public and to educate the public on the advantages of riding bicycles.

“In order for the program to be established and properly supported, infrastructures for biking must be constructed. Without them, biking in Philippine roads, dominated by motor vehicles, would still be dangerous for cyclists and will only deter the sustained operation of the national biking program,” the Marinduque congressman explained in his proposal filed recently.

Under House Bill 4493, lanes exclusive for bicycles shall be established in all primary and secondary roads to allow cyclists to traverse across all towns and cities nationwide. Designated bike lanes shall also be separated by a physical barrier and pavements shall bear visible markings.

“In cases where the installation of a physical barrier or elevated path is not feasible, the lane for bicycles shall be identified through reflectorized yellow painted lines. However, bicycle lanes must never compromise the mobility and safety of pedestrians,” it added.

Cyclists, on the other hand, shall be required to bike within the designated lanes, unless no bike lane has been established yet, as well as obey all traffic rules and regulations, except those which are not applicable to bicycles.

If approved into law, Velasco’s bill mandates all public places, government offices, schools, malls, banks, restaurants and hospitals, among others, to provide bicycle racks for parking, which should be visible, secure and accessible without obstructing the way devoted for pedestrians or motor vehicles.

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