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Remove cycle lanes, ban e-bikes: MMDA opposes national policy

Remove cycle lanes, ban e-bikes: MMDA opposes national policy

Traffic composite image from INQUIRER file photos

Only last year, the MMDA, or Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, proposed converting the EDSA cycle path into a shared cycle path, but now the cycle path, which has been exclusively for cyclists since 2020, could disappear from the 23.8 kilometer long lane. highway if MMDA had its way.

This, as MMDA chairman Don Artes said that the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue is “probably the only major highway in the world where there are bicycles,” while exposing proposals to reduce the size of the bicycle lane that had been designated or completely remove it. in 2020 when public transport came to a standstill due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

As he and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) revealed, proposals have been made to eliminate, or at least modify, bike lanes.

The MMDA reason? Only a few, or 1,586, use cycle lanes every day, while 170,000 motorcycles use EDSA.

READ: Why bicycles and motorcycles can’t share lanes

This was the same reason for Artes last year, when he revealed that the MMDA was considering converting the bike lane into a shared lane, saying the bike lane is underutilized. However, this proposal did not get off the ground because ‘no one agreed to it’.

Remove cycle lanes, ban e-bikes: MMDA opposes national policy

GRAPHIC by Ed Lustan/INQUIRER.net

READ: MMDA looks for other options for shared bicycle-motorcycle lane scheme

Not even a year has passed. Artes again highlighted MMDA’s bicycle count as he unveiled plans to modify the exclusive lane, pointing to concerns about its underutilization. He said extensive discussions have already taken place between government agencies.

But the DOTr does not share the same opinion.

On April 21 last year, a few days before Artes made his comment about the bike lane, Transport Minister Jaime Bautista said that the DOTr was considering the construction of a lane on the EDSA exclusively for motorcycles, noting that “we already have a bus lane and on the right side we have a cycle path.”

He said the motorcycle path could be built next to the cycle path.

Subsequently, on April 26, the DOTr said it is committed to promoting pedestrian-oriented spaces such as sidewalks and cycle paths, emphasizing that non-motorized modes of transport, such as cycling and walking, are promoted in accordance with the National Transport Policy (NTP). and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.

“The DOTr is answering the long-overlooked call from public and active transportation commuters to have a better travel experience by pushing for expanded and safer walking and cycling paths, especially on national roadways,” the statement said. DOTr. EDSA is a national road.

Bautista also emphasized on Monday, April 29, the importance of active transportation such as cycling, pointing out that this not only supports the driving public but also eases traffic congestion. “Maybe we need good enforcement so we can use our bike lanes effectively,” he said.

READ: DOTr emphasizes good enforcement of the cycle path

The DOTr is implementing the active transportation program as envisioned by the NTP and PDP initiatives 2023-2028. The program has a budget of P1 billion for 2024, while P5 billion has been allocated since 2020, Bautista said at the inauguration of an active transportation infrastructure in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Direct contradiction

As noted by the group Move As One, removing bike lanes from EDSA is in direct contradiction to DOTr, and even the statements of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on active transportation as part of the comprehensive solution to the transportation crisis.

In 2022, permanent bike lanes were one of the campaign promises of Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte, saying the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the need to develop active transportation as a “practical and healthy alternative to existing modes of transportation.”

READ: Marcos Jr. and Sara promise to include bike lanes in future government road projects if elected

Based on data from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the economic cost of Metro Manila’s traffic chaos in 2012 is P2.4 billion per day; P3.5 billion per day in 2017; and 4.9 billion euros per day in 2022. Without effective intervention, the economic loss could reach 9 billion euros per day by 2030.

Remove cycle lanes, ban e-bikes: MMDA opposes national policy

GRAPHIC by Ed Lustan/INQUIRER.net

Move As One also said that removing bike lanes “violates the right of many bicycle-owning Filipinos to safe and convenient mobility,” pointing to Social Weather Stations data as of March 2023 that 24 percent of Filipino households own bicycles, or a 4 : 1 ratio between bicycle owners and car owners.

“The coalition calls on Artes to fully adhere to President Marcos Jr.’s policies to support active transportation and fulfill the President’s and Vice President’s campaign promise to make bicycle lanes permanent in the country,” Move said As One in a statement.

RELATED STORY: DOTr continues to promote cycling, walking and light electric vehicles

“This includes Artes’ reconsideration of its ill-conceived ban on light electric vehicles, a key mode of transportation for the 94 percent of Filipinos who do not own cars,” the report said, stressing that Artes should devote its time and energy to the public official in the field of the safe and sustainable mobility of people.

Looking back, the MMDA said battery-operated vehicles are not safe on the national roads, so it issued a directive banning these vehicles on select highways from April 15. Marcos ordered the MMDA to drive slowly and leave e-bikes and e-trikes alone. at least one month.

READ: Marcos orders MMDA: Grace period before e-trike ban

But critics had said the government should build protected lanes on major roads to make it safe for e-bike and e-trike users to traverse national highways in Metro Manila.