Commuters in the US have turned to Google Maps-assisted bike and scooter rides. Meanwhile, we hardly have any protected bike lanes

By Catherine Orda | Photo by Louis Lo

The streets of Metro Manila and other urban centers have reputations built on pollution, traffic, and danger. The last two pose a particularly sad problem to pedestrians who want nothing but to get off the road as soon as possible: Get stuck in traffic for hours or risk walking around the metro—reckless drivers and catcallers be damned. 

It seems that we’re alone in bearing this kind of pitiful tradeoff. That frustrated commuters in cities like Dubai have recently turned to bicycle and scooter services is a solution to just rush hour traffic—not permanently terrible traffic and pedestrian-unfriendliness. Meanwhile, in cities like Austin and Seattle, electric scooters are taking over. The reason? To make “sprawling downtowns easier to explore,” reports Conde Nast Traveler. The number of people riding scooters has grown so much that Google Maps have cashed in on the trend. People on scooters can now tell how long it would take them to get to their destination. 

We’ll always vouch for the health benefits of walking, but both past and recent instances have made us realize that it’s scooters and bikes that can spur actual changes in road design.

The pointlessness of comparing Manila with developed cities isn’t lost on us. It makes sense to bring up these recent transportation trends simply because they speak to the potential of biking as one of the best ways to go around the metro. We’ll always vouch for the health benefits of walking, but both past and recent instances have made us realize that it’s scooters and bikes that can spur actual changes in road design. As more and more Filipinos have turned to bikes and scooters as ways of traveling, development authorities have delegated protected bike lanes in certain busy streets and highways. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, the Department of Public Works and Highways led the opening of Laguna Lake Expressway, a four-lane, 6.94-km toll-free road that connects Bicutan to the town of Taytay, which comes equipped with the country’s first ever three-meter-wide protected bicycle lane. 

The initiative to incorporate pedestrian infrastructure in public roads has seen some progress on a national scale, with bypass roads and more bicycle lanes being created in provincial cities such as Davao and Cagayan de Oro. But this vision has yet to be implemented in what is perhaps the country’s most fraught and infamous road—EDSA. It’s normal to get stuck for over two hours in EDSA, and, unsurprisingly, equipping the road with bike lanes comes (if it ever does) as a welcome solution to this problem.  Architecture firm Louwie A. Gan and Associates has visualized how that would play out:

As we all wait for the day that EDSA finally becomes equipped with protected bike lanes, we might as well enjoy the few ones we have as of the moment:

 

Laguna Lake Highway

This toll-free highway cuts time from Bicutan to Taytay (and vice versa) from one hour to just 30 minutes. The bike lanes it has, which were designed to function as an elevated dike against flooding, is meant to ease traffic and encourage people to use non-polluting bicycles

Ortigas, Pasig City

Stretching from Dona Julia Vargas Avenue to Ortigas Avenue, this protected bike lane comes as a great addition to the streets of the crowded business since its bike lanes (which have been around for a while now) tend to be hogged by motorists. The addition of permanent structures should solve that problem. 

Baywalk, Roxas Boulevard

This bike lane along Manila Bay comes with a perk: Anyone with a valid identification card could borrow a bicycle from the bike shelter setup near the Rajah Sulayman Park. This service is free. Bikes can also be left in the said bike shelter. 

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City 

BGC’s bike lane is found along the 2nd Avenue, 11th Avenue, 28th Street, 30th Street, 31st Street, and Rizal Drive. Bike racks are found around the area so there’s no need to worry about where to leave your bike.

Neopolitan Business Park, Quezon City

Famous among triathlete and cyclists, this one-kilometer pentagon loop just behind SM City Fairview comes  equipped with up to four lanes

UP Academic Oval, Quezon City

Biking around the university’s two-kilometer loop will get you feeling energized as most of the campus is surrounded by trees.