MANILA,Philippines—The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) inaugurated a bike lane along Marcos Highway in Marikina City the morning of November 27.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, along with Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman, Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz, other MMDA officials, and cycling enthusiasts and groups, rode the 4.58-kilometer bike lane that starts from the corner of Evangelista Street near Santolan station of LRT 2 up to Imelda Avenue. The bike lane is elevated along the sidewalks with most segments protected from motorists by concrete barriers.
“We wanted to extend the existing bike lanes in the inner roads of Marikina to Marcos Highway to further promote the healthy practice of using bicycles as every day means of transportation,” Tolentino said in a statement.
The Marcos Highway bike lane has been installed with traffic directional signs and safety devices to aid bike riders. It is the second bike lane introduced by the MMDA after the 1.75-kilometer bike lane in Remedios Circle in Malate, Manila last November 15.
Tolentino said another bike lane will be inaugurated along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City next week. Plans are also being studied to put up a similar bike lane segment along EDSA, he added.
“These dedicated lanes are intended to ensure the safety of the bicycle riders who traverse Metro Manila’s major roads,” Tolentino said.
Representatives from the Firefly Brigade were also present during the inauguration. Firefly Brigade is a non-government organization known for its annual Tour of the Fireflies, a costumed bicycle ride around Metro Manila that is campaigning for road safety, bicycle parking, and education for bicycle rights.
“We are jubilant that the MMDA is launching bike lanes in an area where non-motorized transportation has been espoused,” said Tina dela Cruz, president of the Firefly Brigade, in an official statement.
Mia Bunao, project coordinator of the Firefly Brigade, also said that “we are happy that the MMDA is more dynamic now and aggressive in making bike lanes a reality.”
But there is still work to be done in connecting bike lanes. Bunao added, “We truly hope that the lanes can be interconnected through all Metro Manila cities, that’s the only way it will be used by the citizens. Development of intra-city and inter-city bike path networks is the only way to make the system work.”
Not Just Bike Lanes Needed
Bikers who tried the new bike lane told SecurityMatters their opinions.
Jojo Liwanag, president of Monterey Bikers’ Club, said, “Hindi kami iginagalang (We are not respected).”
He and his companions explained some concerns of bikers when biking along roads. For instance, aside from the lack of bike lanes, when bikers use the side of the road, some motorists tend to cut them off and even swerve too close to them.
Liwanag and his companions tested the newly inaugurated bike lane and found some obstructions. “Ok sana kaya lang sana maimplement nang tama (Bike lane is ok, but I wish it would be implemented properly).”
They explained that there is a need for enforcement since bike lanes are sometimes used as parking spaces for vehicles or used by motorists and motorcyclists to overtake or counterflow traffic. Bike lanes become parking slots if there are no enforcers around. They said enforcers are needed to guard against “drivers na matitigas ang ulo (hard-headed drivers).”
Ein Erminio, a marshall for the Firefly Brigade, expressed his approval of the bike lanes saying, “Kailangan din ng bike lanes katulad dito sa Marcos Highway mahirap magbike dun sa kalye mismo kasi mabilis yung takbo ng mga sasakyan. So maganda rin na may bike lane tayo (Bike lanes are needed like this one on Marcos Highway, which is a very dangerous road to ride a bike because vehicles travel fast. It’s good that we have a bike lane here).”
But Erminio also voiced his concern after trying the bike lane, “Sana yung mga bike lane natin yung madaling gamitin, yung walang nakaharang kasi yung ibang parts ng Marcos Highway bike lane may mga harang din, may mga nakapark, may mga nagtitinda (I hope that our bike lanes are easy to travel in or have no obstructions because some parts of the Marcos Highway bike lane are obstructed with parked cars and vendors).”
Erminio added that if ever bike lanes are implemented, they need to be accessible and enforced.
Sharing the Road
Ronnie Vela, also from the Firefly Brigade, emphasized that respect for everyone’s right to use the road is more important. “Hindi lang ang siklista kundi pati yung nagjojogging, naglalakad sa kalsada, pati yung naka-kariton dapat respetuhin (This goes not only for bikers, but also for joggers, pedestrians, and even those pushing carts should be accorded with respect on the road),” he said.
He expressed that some motorists are disrespectful and think that they are the only ones who have the right to use public roads. “Lahat ng tao nagbabayad ng tax, lahat may karapatang gumamit ng kalsada (Everyone pays taxes and everyone has the right to use the road).”
Vela added that it would be better to prioritize sharing the road than creating bike lanes. This would teach everyone to be disciplined and ensure the safety of everyone using the road from motorists to those riding a bike, walking, or pushing a cart along roads. To which other bikers agreed: It is more important to share the road.