MANILA: As the country transitions to a new normal, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging all local government units (LGUs) to establish bicycle lanes in all local roads to support those who will bike to their work destinations due to the reduced capacity of public transportation under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
In an advisory, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año directed provincial governors, city and municipal mayors to coordinate with neighboring LGUs to connect bicycle lanes and establish a bicycle road network.
“Because of limited mass transportation, most people will resort to biking as a means of going to and from work. LGUs, therefore, have to be ready with the bike lanes in their areas to ensure the safety of the cyclists,” he said.
Año said local governments must also ensure that all bicycle lanes are free from any obstruction to prevent any untoward road accidents.
“Siguraduhin po nating walang nakahambalang sa mga dadaanan ng bisikleta sa inyong lugar para iwas-disgrasya at para maging mabilis ang biyahe ng mga siklista (Make sure bike lanes have no any obstruction to prevent accident and it will not hamper the cyclists),” he said.
He said bicycles as a mode of transportation is encouraged by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“As per the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine issued by the IATF, the use of bicycles and other non-motorized forms of transportation is strongly encouraged,” he said. “In this new normal, we want to enjoin everyone to use bikes. Good for the health ang bike, at tsaka, matipid pa. Hindi mo na kailangang bumili ng gasoline (Bikes are good for the health, economical, and you don’t need to buy gasoline),” Año said.
He said LGUs must also enact ordinances to impose reasonable penalties on violations in the use of the bike lanes to ensure that both motorists and cyclists follow the regulations along the said lanes.
According to him, LGUs should follow the Department of Transportation (DOTr’s) design approach of putting up plastic bollards, stencil markings and signage in the designated bike lanes for the safety of the bicycling public especially in major thoroughfares where fast-moving buses and other huge vehicles are passing through the same road.
He also reminded LGUs to strictly implement health and safety protocols including the mandatory wearing of face masks of the persons using said lanes and in all public areas.
“SOP na dapat ang pagsusuot ng mask at physical distancing sa mga pampublikong lugar. Masanay na tayo sa ganitong sitwasyon habang wala pang gamot at vaccine laban sa Covid-19 (Wearing of mask and physical distancing in public places should be standard operating procedure. We will get used to it while waiting for vaccine against Covid-19),” he said.
Motor taxis still prohibited
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said motor taxis hailed through motorcycle ride-sharing apps such as Angkas are still not allowed during GCQ and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) under current IATF guidelines.
“Alam po namin na marami pong umaasa sa Angkas at iba pang motor taxis para makarating sa kanilang trabaho at destinasyon ngunit dahil sa patuloy na banta ng Covid-19, hindi pa rin pinahihintulutan ng gobyerno ang ganitong mode of transportation dahil sa violation ng physical distancing,” said Malaya.
The DILG, through Memorandum Circular 2020-083, directed all LGUs to strictly prohibit the operation of motor taxis as part of the regulatory measures in public transportation in areas under the MECQ and GCQ.
Malaya also said motorcycle back ride is prohibited even for married couples as part of the physical distancing measures as this allows prolonged close contact between two people and will lead to possible transmission of Covid-19.
“While we understand the request of many of our kababayan (countrymen), back ride is a clear violation of physical distancing and it will be impossible for the police and our traffic enforcers to check each and every motorcycle if these are married couples. If we grant one exemption, it will open the floodgates to violations by those who are not allowed. The health risks outweigh the benefits,” he said.
Among the alternative modes of transportation suggested by the DOTr during the post-pandemic period are the use of bikes and modernized PUVs (public utility vehicles) as these have less contact with other people and lessens the risk of spreading the virus among passengers.
(DILG-PR/ SRNY/ RSP)