Ayala Avenue bike lanes on brink of demise: Groups unite to save routes
Updated to reflect additional quotes and information from Move As One Coalition
MANILA, Philippines — The pedal and kick power of hundreds of cyclists and electric scooter riders on Makati City’s Ayala Avenue was on full display on Sunday morning as they boldly proclaimed that they would not back down from the fight for safe biking lanes.
In a mighty roar of protest, various groups spearheaded by Move As One Coalition filled the streets, chanting, “Pangtanggal ng bike lanes, tutulan, ‘wag pahintulutan (Removal of bike lanes, fight it, make it stop).”
On Feb. 15, Makati’s plan to take away the safeguarded bike lanes along Ayala Avenue caused a stir of outrage within the city, with bikers insisting that the proposal should be declined and not be put into effect.
The plan was based on the assumption that the need for protected bike routes would decrease as the number of commuters increases.
Yet, Double D club member Dex Dimaisip warned of the consequences of this conversion of bike lanes.
“The conversion of the bike lanes, eventually there’s a chance it will disappear and will altogether be removed by local authorities. That’s why these people are fighting for bike lanes and improving their infrastructure. It helps everyone travel safely and efficiently,” he said.
Tim Vargas of the Electric Kick Scooter Philippines (EKSPH), which is also part of Move As One Coalition, was working closely with stakeholders of these agencies to benefit the community of electric kick scooters and personal mobility device (PMD) riders.
According to the coalition, Ayala Avenue isn’t the only city whose bike lanes with protection would be stripped away.
In a statement, it said, “there is a systematic removal of bike lanes nationwide; this is prevalent in BGC, and other LGUs.”
…But Quezon City eliminates not bike lanes but fatalities
In Quezon City, the coalition said, the local government unit (LGU) takes bike lanes seriously – going so far as to set up a special office with enforcers to monitor the routes.
The Quezon City program resulted in almost wholly eliminating fatal bicycle accidents – zero, according to its report in 2022.
Group’s unity statement
The news that the City of Makati will be removing the well-regarded protected bike lanes along Ayala Avenue on February 15 has caused an uproar in the Philippine cycling community – a severe setback for the safety of road users, and has left many disappointed, the coalition said.
It said, as a result, citizens, drivers, cyclists, kick scooter users, delivery workers, commuters, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, health care workers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, women, parents, kids, teachers, students, and business owners have come together to oppose the removal of protected bike lanes in the Philippines.
The statement calls for empathy, understanding, and unity amongst all road users to make our streets safer. Car owners are asked to give away one or two lanes to cyclists, pedestrians, and commuters. The desired outcome is clear: we all wish to reach our destinations safely and return home unharmed.
The statement in full:
Throughout the pandemic, Metro Manila’s bike lanes have been a huge success, encouraging a new and exciting mode of transportation. Not only has this helped to relieve traffic and pollution, but it also has given those who can’t afford vehicles or public transit another option.
Furthermore, more people have been able to explore the city and patronize local businesses, boosting the economy as a whole.
The group leaders said these bike lanes present a number of advantages that could improve people’s living standards and stimulate the economy in cities around the world. With this in mind, the potential for bike lanes to be an alternative for improving cities’ transportation infrastructure is clear, they added.—ABC