When I was in Massachusetts in 2020, the city government of Boston just launched the “Go Boston 2030 Vision Framework”, an initiative which hoped to cement Boston’s place as America’s most walkable city by putting up infrastructure that would improve access into and around the commercial districts for people travelling on foot, by bike or scooter. Ultimately, they intend to increase people walking to work by 50 percent and increase bicycling shares by four-fold within the next ten years.
This has been a trend for many progressive cities around the world. In fact, since 2007, Boston has built more that 144 kilometers of bicycle lanes. In Denmark, they constructed a “cycle superhighway,” a “coherent network of cycle highway” spanning over 20 cities and municipalities. In Amsterdam, museum enthusiasts could cycle through the Rijksmuseum, a 19th century museum famous for Rembrandt’s Night Watch.
In the Philippines, there wasn’t much political support or policy or infrastructure that would address the needs of cyclists and pedestrians. It was almost impossible — and to a certain extent unsafe — to walk or cycle alongside national highways.
In 2011, the Asian Development Bank examined walkability and pedestrian facilities in Asian cities. It showed that in Manila, like in Hanoi, a sizeable number of the trips could be made by foot and bicycle because the average distance traveled per trip was low.
Data from the Metro Manila Urban Transport Integration showed that nearly 35 percent of destinations were within a 15-minute walk or bicycle trip, but the majority of short trips were made by paratransit (jeepneys and tricycles) and cars.
Fortunately, the vision for Philippine infrastructure is fast changing.
Bicycle lanes in PH will now be mandatory
With the issuance of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar of Department Order 88, all projects that involve new road and bridge construction will include in their design the provision of bicycle facilities, if feasible.
This would mean that projects like the 6.94-kilometer Laguna Lake Expressway, would now be the rule rather than the exemption. Three-meter-wide protected bicycle lanes will soon be a common sight rather than a unique feature of the toll-free expressway connecting Bicutan to Taytay.
Since 2016, DPWH has been working on incorporating pedestrian infrastructure on public roads in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. But the issuance of this new policy hopes to institutionalize the creation of pedestrian infrastructure.
For instance, the Cagayan de Oro (CDO) Coastal Road, Davao City Coastal Road, Leyte Tide Embankment Project, Pasig River Flood Control Project, Tagaytay Bypass Road, Bacolod Economic Highway, Antique Esplanade, Sorsogon Coastal Highway and Boracay Circumferential Road have been built with bicycle lanes.
Bicycle Facility Classifications
Under DO 88, bicycle facilities will be classified into three classes depending on the prevailing road and traffic conditions: Class I or the Shared Use Bike Path, Class 2 or the Separated Bike Lane, and Class 3, the Shared Roadway.
In Class I, a designated path, completely separated from the roadway, will be identified for the exclusive use of bicycles or shared with pedestrians. In Class 2, a portion of roadway, which is designated for exclusive use of bikes, will be distinguished by a paint strip, curb, or barrier. In Class 3, where limited carriageway width poses a problem, a part of the roadway that has been officially designated and marked as bicycle route may also be used by motor vehicles.
Soon, the Philippines will be a cycling country.