Bikers, walkers, activists march on Edsa to push road sharing
Despite the decision of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to defer the road-sharing event along Edsa, more than a hundred bikers, walkers and environment activists took over the busy thoroughfare on Sunday but in a smaller and shorter ground testing of the road sharing principle.
Dubbed Bayanihan sa Daan (Road Sharing Movement), the project which aims to “reclaim the roads for the carless citizens” calls for shared roads by allotting half of EDSA for non-motorized transport, and the other half for an organized transport system. It also envisions to change the typical mindset that Edsa is only for motorized vehicles.
Cycling in tandems, the bikers made their way along the northbound EDSA lane marked “Bikers’ Lane,” from the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City to Magallanes in Makati and back again.
The northbound side of the major thoroughfare transformed into space where there were designated lanes for walkers and cyclists. MMDA enforcers placed cones to separate the pedestrian walkways and bike lanes from those used by buses, private cars and public utility vehicles.
Initially deferred in an official advisory from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) due to administrative and logistical concerns, the activity, which was supposed to run for both north- and southbound lanes from Ortigas to SM Mall of Asia (MoA) on the same day.
According to environmental lawyer Antonio “Tony” Oposa, who pioneered the “Share the Road” movement, this road-sharing project aims to decrease the notorious traffic congestion and pollution along EDSA by decreasing the number of cars on the roads.
“The solution is simple. We will fix the public transportation system, and give way to those who wish to walk or ride their bikes. We are not changing anything with this movement, we only want to enforce what is written in the law and instill discipline among people,” he added.
Oposa was joined by Nereus Acosta, the presidential adviser for environmental protection and general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority; National Anti-Poverty Commission member Quin Cruz; bus operators; bikers from the Pasig City government; and other cyclist groups.
While MMDA chair Francis Tolentino said he supported the program and “any effort to clean our air, improve health of our citizens, and ease traffic,” the proposal was initially met with skepticism as critics say it would only aggravate traffic woes.
But for Acosta, discipline and strict observance of the law could help alleviate the problem of public transport.
“[Let] us reclaim what is rightfully the people’s–which is safer, more roads to be shared for all,” he said.
Cruz, on the other hand, came to the activity aboard his “car bike” which was a typical bike with metal frames that housed it in a box-like structure and made it look like car.
“This only shows how big of a space cars occupy on the streets. We want people to realize that with this kind of program, people are given options especially if there would be walkways for pedestrians, bike lanes and spaces for persons with disabilities,” he added.
Biking enthusiasts also registered their support over the project, as separate bike lanes would definitely lessen chances of road accidents, said Larry Bulaong, President of the Zero KM Bikers’ Club.
“[The project] is important to us because we know that everyday, cyclists are involved in road accidents as vehicles refuse to give way to them. So cyclists often have to weave their way through the traffic,” Bulaong said.
After the 3-hour activity, Bayanihan sa Daan executive assistant Paulo Burro said they were satisfied with its outcome since there was order — cyclists and walkers were protected and buses only loaded and unloaded on designated bus stops.
“There was a shortage of cones but aside from that everything was in order because MMDA enforcers were very helpful,” Burro said noting that there were some jeepneys who still had to be told not to use bike lanes but said that it was just a minor issue.
The proponents of the road sharing principle said that the activity would prepare them for its formal launch along Edsa in a few weeks. Oposa also said should the “proof of concept” succeed, the scheme would eventually be implemented every Sunday. SFM
(With a report from Krixia Subingsubing, trainee)
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