MANILA – Filipinos can expect additional bicycle lanes in Metro Manila soon.

In his 12th weekly report to Congress on the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response, President Rodrigo Duterte bared that the government has formed a team to prepare the design and construction of bicycle lanes in seven prioritized road sections in Metro Manila.

“With the aim of increasing mobility during the new normal, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has created a Technical Working Group to directly coordinate with the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) for the preparation of a conceptual design and construction of a Metro Manila-wide bicycle lane for national and local roads,” Duterte said in his report.

He said the group has started gathering data for the seven prioritized road sections namely EDSA, Quezon Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, R-10, C-5, and Marcos Highway.

The shift to a general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila and other parts of the country has forced the public to find other ways to get around due to the reduced passenger capacity of public transport.

Currently, only trains and bus augmentation services, taxis, transport network vehicle services, shuttle services, point-to-point buses with limited passenger capacity and bicycles are allowed to operate under GCQ.

Late last month, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed provincial governors, city and municipal mayors to coordinate with neighboring local government units (LGUs) to connect bicycle lanes and establish a bicycle road network.

Año said local governments must also ensure that all bicycle lanes are free from any obstruction to prevent any untoward road accidents.

LGUs should follow the DOTr 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 said.

He also reminded LGUs to strictly implement health and safety protocols including the mandatory wearing of face masks of the persons using the said lanes and in all public areas.

The DOTr is promoting the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation that would be useful in maintaining physical distancing. It will also have substantial environmental and health benefits.

As more individuals are looking into the use of bicycles, the Department of Trade and Industry is also eyeing to impose price control on bikes now that sales are increasing. (PNA)