Returning senator Pia Cayetano has filed a bill last Tuesday, July 16, 2019 called the National Bicycle Act of 2019. The bill seeks to make the bicycle as an alternative mode of transport nationwide.
Cayetano, a cycling enthusiast herself said, “it is time to change our mindset about traffic and find alternative means to move forward from this perennial problem”. She added that cycling does not only offer an efficient means of mobility in heavy traffic areas, but is also an affordable, environment-friendly, and healthy alternative to motor vehicles.
“We should do away with the old thinking that cars are for the rich and bikes are for the poor. Increasingly, we see more people coming to work on two wheels, young and old, from vendors to workers, professionals, and even executives,” Cayetano said.
Her proposed measure provides the following features:
- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with local government units shall take the lead in designating bicycle lanes, which shall serve as exclusive passage for cyclists.
- Motor vehicles will be prohibited from being driven or parked on any bike lane.
- The bike lanes shall be separated by a physical barrier, whenever possible, and shall be clearly identified with signs or pavement markings.
- In cases where installation of a physical barrier is not feasible, the lane for bicycles shall be identified through reflectorized painted lines.
- All public places, government offices, schools, major business establishments, including malls, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and the like, must provide adequate racks for bike parking and other infrastructure as far as practicable.
The private sector will also be encouraged to develop counterpart infrastructure, facilities and programs to help promote biking.
Several bills pushing cycling as a mode of transportation and bills seeking to protect cyclists have been filed previously both in the Lower House and in the Senate. Unfortunately, those proposals reached only the Committee Level deliberations. Passing a law to promote cycling as a means of transportation and laws to protect cyclists has continued to be a dream for cyclists in the Philippines.
Last February 4, 2019, however, a big step towards the achieving of this dream happened when the House of Representatives unanimously approved HB 8911 on third and final reading to make cycling safer throughout the country. House Bill 8911 otherwise known as “Minimum Overtaking of Cyclists Distance Act” was principally authored by ACT Teachers party list Rep. Antonio Tinio. The House of Representatives has transmitted to the Senate the proposed bill already so that a counterpart bill will be proposed and approved in the senate for it to finally become a law.
I sat down recently with Rep. Tinio to discuss his proposed bill. When I asked him what the cycling community can do to push for the approval of cycling-related legislation, he suggested that there should be a strong lobbying from the cycling community. Rep. Tinio said that the cycling community in the Philippines should seek ways to send a strong message to our lawmakers that we are active and engaged stakeholders of any cycling related legislation. He suggested that bike groups nationwide should organize bike rides to the Senate or Congress whenever cycling-related bills are discussed and deliberated.
What other efforts can we do to help all cycling-related bills in Congress be passed into law? Let me know by writing your thoughts in the comment section below.