Manila mayor Isko Moreno says that the city isn’t ready for bikes just yet
Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo from Inquirer.net
Manila mayor Isko Moreno explained in a Manila Bulletin column on June 21 why he’s “half-hearted” about setting up bike lanes in Manila: 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 urban biking, saying that there first needs to be an in-depth study on bike and road safety in the Philippines before allowing citizens to use bikes as a mode of public transportation.
“I shudder at the thought of bicycles having to contend with this challenge daily,” he writes in the column. “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 emphasized that road cyclists are highly susceptible to accidents and that setting up bike lanes won’t fully protect them on the roads of Manila, where almost 4,000 gigantic 40-foot trucks travel daily.
Currently, Manila still lacks the necessary infrastructure conducive for safe biking. The Philippines is also considered one of the worst places to drive in the world, which indicates the long way the country needs to go before city biking can be safe.
Cycling advocates respond to Isko Moreno 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.
The cycling advocates called out Moreno via a Facebook post on June 22, saying that the mayor must understand the benefits of using bicycles now instead of holding back.
“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.”
According to Anton Siy, chief transport planner of Pasig City, one of the biggest hurdles to building cycling infrastructure is thinking that cycling is a dangerous activity.