Bicycles To Promote Health & Leisure
Sen. Manny Villar is pushing for the passage of a law which will promote bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation in the face of the increasing price of fuel and fares.
"Bicycle riding not only promotes health and leisure but also provides for an alternative solution to high fuel prices, increasing transport fares, traffic management, air and noise pollution and high cost of motorized vehicles including maintenance and parking fees," Villar believes.
Villar authored Senate Bill No. 2688 or the Bicycle Act of 2011. This bill if approved into law, seeks to provide a framework for a bicycle law on a national level.
Under the bill, all main roads and highways shall be provided with bicycle lanes or bike ways identified by the Local Bikeways Office (LBO). The LBO is the agency which will be in charge of implementing the policies, rules and regulations pertinent to the Bicycle Act. This will include the registration of bicycles using the bike ways under the supervision of the city or municipal engineering office of a city or municipality.
Villar noted that in the Philippines, one of the first laws related to bicycle use was enacted by the Marikina City Council in 1996. That ordinance dwells on the use of all streets, avenues, alleys, sidewalks, bridges, parks, and other public places as bicycle lanes. Recently, a bicycle ordinance was also approved on second reading in Davao City.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex has also integrated a bicycle lane in its road network, Villar pointed out.
Moreover, "the worsening pollution problem also calls for the promotion of the use of non-motorized vehicles that is free from harmful emissions".
The bill also provides for the creation of Bicycle Parks in each city and municipality where provisions for bicycles are present such as bikeways, bicycle parking areas and similar infrastructure.
Funding for the construction of bicycle parks will be sourced from revenues raised from the locality’s miscellaneous activities like parking and license fees.
The bill also includes a section indicating the rights, duties and obligations of cyclists, promoting safety of bicycle riders and all road users.
It mandates the use of helmets and appropriate signals and the use of reflective materials especially at night.
It also imposes restrictions upon cyclists and the right to use a bicycle such as the prohibition for a bicycle to carry more persons than it is designed to carry except when another regular seat or trailer towed by the bicycle is present.
It also prohibits the parking of bicycles in areas not specifically marked as parking areas for bicycles.
Once bike lanes are established on a road, the bill prohibits any person operating a motor vehicle to drive in the bikeway.
In Asia, especially in China, the use of bicycles is very intensive. In Western Europe, bicycles are used in going to work, for pleasure, and for body building. There is even the annual bicycle contest called "Tour de France".
But will the Filipinos welcome this proposed Villar Bicycle Law? What will be the reactions of the various local government unit officials on this proposed bicycle law? Will they construct bicycle lanes? How will the bicycle law affect the road situation in the Philippines? Until today, tricycles are prohibited from using the national highway, however, it is tolerated because there is no tricycle lane. /MP