Consider it the happy culmination of a two-year-long campaign for cleaner air and safer streets.
More than 500 bikers from different cycling organizations joined the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday as it launched a 1.75-kilometer-long bike lane from Remedios Circle to Adriatico Street in Manila.
According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, the opening of the bike lane will help ensure the safety of bicycle riders on major roads in Metro Manila.
“We also want to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation that will give us cleaner air,” he said.
We Want Bike Lanes for RP Movement director Erwin M. Paala said they started the cyclist movement in 2010 after 70-year-old biker and construction worker Alfredo Padilla was killed by a truck in Pandacan, Manila.
In its Facebook page, the movement calls on government and the community to help prevent deaths due to accidents on major roads and highways.
Jun Salaveria, a biking enthusiast for 18 years, said the MMDA’s move would encourage more people to go biking in the metropolis.
“This is just a drop in the bucket but it is a good start because many people will discover that it is more fun to ride a bike than to drive a car,” he told the Inquirer.
Salaveria added, however, that he was hoping that more bike lanes would be set up in other cities in Metro Manila.
At a meeting with Metro mayors in Aloha Hotel later in the day, Tolentino encouraged them to open bike lanes in their areas.
So far, only Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman, who joined the early-morning bike ride with Tolentino and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, have expressed willingness to do so.
Marikina has already set up bike lanes in the city, a project started by its former mayor Bayani Fernando.
Tolentino said the agency would open two more bike lanes on November 26 on Marcos Highway in Marikina and on November 28 on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Meanwhile, the MMDA and Lim on Thursday also opened a park designed to teach children road safety and traffic discipline.
More than 20 pupils from Manila Day Care Center in Malate were taught by MMDA personnel to use the mini-footbridge and underpass in the Children’s Road Safety Park, which used to be known as the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila. The kids were also allowed to use electric-powered miniature cars to help them recognize basic road signs.
“We want to instill in their young minds the essence of road discipline to avoid having individuals like Robert Blair Carabuena in the future,” Tolentino said, referring to the motorist who was charged by the MMDA after he beat up one of its traffic constables.