Manila Mayor Isko Moreno says that the city isn’t ready for bikes just yet

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo source from Inquirer.net

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno explained in a column published by Manila Bulletin last June 21 why he’s half-hearted about setting up bike lanes in the city of Manila. Moreno says that the reason why he is not inclined on setting up bike lanes is because the Philippines isn’t ready for a “crammed” bicycle system just yet. 

Moreno, who took office as mayor in 2019, clarified that he has nothing against the idea of city-biking, saying that there first needs to be an in-depth study on bike and road safety in the Philippines before allowing citizens to utilize bikes as public transportation.

“I shudder at the thought of bicycles having to contend with this challenge daily,” writes Moreno in the same column published in Manila Bulletin. Are our bike riders ready to put their lives and limbs on the line by sharing the roads with these 40-foot trucks, among other many vehicles? Do all the bikers know the discipline entailed in riding bicycles? Do motorists know the kind of respect they should afford bicycle riders?” Moreno adds.

Moreno emphasized that cyclists on the road are highly susceptible to accidents and that setting up bike lanes won’t fully protect cyclists on the roads of Manila, where almost 4,000 gigantic 40-foot trucks travel daily. 

Currently, Manila still lacks the necessary infrastructure conductive for safe biking. The Philippines is also considered one of the worst places to drive in the world which implies that there’s still a long way to go before city-biking can be truly safe. 

However, if Manila doesn’t implement a bicycle system (specifically bike lanes and infrastructures) right now then how will there be progress? 

 

Cycling advocates respond to Isko Moreno’s statement

Cycling Matters, a group dedicated to turning Metro Manila into a bike-friendly city, believes that not setting up bike lanes in the city sooner will only get more people killed. There are already citizens who have utilized bicycles in the past few weeks, which have helped them get to their workplace safely. 

The cycling advocates called out Moreno via a Facebook post on Monday, June 22 saying that the mayor must understand the benefits of using bicycles right now instead of holding back. This way, the mayor is taking action to improve the city’s bike system instead of hesitating to do so.

“It is understandable that people who don’t ride a bike for transport will have a hard time imagining how it works. The Mayor can start by trying it for himself and by talking to the cycling community so that his imagination can be augmented by those who ride their bikes in Manila,” read the Facebook post. “The people are ready, Mayor Isko. They’re already riding their bikes and they’re just waiting for you to do your job,” added the cycling advocates. 

According to Anton Siy, chief transport planner of Pasig City, one of the biggest mental blocks to cycling infrastructure getting built is thinking that cycling is a dangerous activity. While Moreno’s statements may be reasonable, it’s as important to take action to encourage citizens to utilize bicycles instead of holding them back.