To encourage students to use bicycles as a mode of transport, two youth organizations called on local government units to provide infrastructures that protect and promote active transport users like bike-lanes and bike-racks.
UP Bike Share and Super Scouts, student-run organizations based in Metro Manila, said that biking should not only be promoted during the pandemic since it has positive impact on health and the environment and will definitely contribute to solve the worsening traffic situation in the country.
“Active transportation should not be a temporary pursuit due to the pandemic; rather, active transport should become a lifestyle and a norm. We do acknowledge that there is not enough attention given to active transport by the government and by our society,” said Kat Feranil of Super Scouts.
UP Bikeshare President Kimi Dela Paz and Chief Marketing Officer Carlos Batalla share the same sentiment and also called on the youth to join the advocacy on use of active transport. “We need to have a united front on these issues to allow transportation systems to be more efficient for all. We want to find solutions that accommodates all walks of life and social classes,” Dela Paz said.
Both groups emphasized the importance of educating both cyclists and motorists that active transport is a healthier and more reliable alternative for commuters. But people are hesitant to use bicycles due to safety and convenience concerns.
“If only there is an efficient system like bike lanes and bike racks in every city, commuters would actually choose biking instead of being stuck in traffic for hours,” said Batalla.
UP Bike Share shared that at the onset of the lockdown in March, several hospitals including St. Luke’s Medical BGC, Philippine Heart Center, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center reached out to them and requested bikes for their employees. About 15 bikes were lent per hospital. The group is setting up a rental system to make the process of requesting for bikes more efficient, with the University of the Philippines (UP) community as pilot area.
Super Scouts, on the other hand, has also launched a project to support the transportation needs of frontliners. In partnership with Pasig Transport, they launched Bisig-leta to raise funds for bicycle units for health care workers. The program has so far generated about P20,000. They have also partnered with four online companies – Homebaked, Sugar Drip, Cookied MNL, and T’s Baked On Galaxy- that donated a portion of their profit to the cause. They are now organizing a live-streamed benefit concert to raise awareness and raise more funds for the biking community.
Both groups are heavily using social media to promote their cause. But beyond these online platforms, the youth has to work on the ground. “We hold great power and influence, especially when we work together. We can lobby our government representatives for inclusive and accessible active transport policies and practices,” said Super Scouts Vice President for Communications Patty Tmesi.
Batalla said that if more people will use active transport, the more likely government will implement policies supporting people who are using active transport. “So get your friends, your relatives, your parents using AT. Get them biking. Get them Active,” he stressed.
Earlier last month, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) encouraged the use of AT through the installation of bike racks at stations of the LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3 and PNR transit lines. This was followed by the signing of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2020-0001 entitled “Guidelines on the Proper Use and Promotion of Active Transport During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic”. The Order provides guidance for the promotion and safe use of active transport during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the agency, they are now fast-tracking the creation of bicycle lanes along EDSA, and ultimately all over Metro Manila, to maximize road space use and ensure the safety of cyclists.