Bicycle lanes

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Friday, January 24, 2014


DURING weekdays, I take the bus to the city and walk for about 20 minutes to the Auckland High Court where I work. Not only is it an environment-friendly routine, it is healthy as well.

Two of my workmates, Peter Gayaman and Sam Mills, do better as they have bicycles to bring them to work. When the news about a cyclist killed in an accident while maneuvering along the road came out, they talked about the dangers that they go through each day. But they remain persistent in their bicycle ride to work.

The public reaction to the accident (and there have been a number of such in past months) has been for cyclists to be protected from vehicles. The government has encouraged the use of bicycles by providing bike lanes and bike parking areas, while at the same time, bikers put on safety gears to prevent accidents. One commentator said the core goal is “to seek to limit human-vehicle interactions.”

The call for the establishment of bicycle lanes in Cebu City’s main thoroughfares is timely, but by the looks of it, it will take a considerable period (and more accidents) before it can actually happen. The Department of Transportation and Communication’s (DOTC) Environmentally Sustainable Initiatives Transport Unit refused the request for funding of a feasibility study for the proposed project.

In a pro forma letter, the agency wrote, “(W)e regret to inform you that due to existing concerns that remain to be clarified on the methodology and operationalization of the proposed feasibility study, we are not able to include your proposal in the 2014 pipeline projects of the SVPCF.”

To justify the need for bicycle lanes, the agency sought data on greenhouse gas emissions in the city, as well as a survey on ailments related to greenhouse gas emissions. Results of the survey were supposed to justify the need for bicycle lanes.

Like most government agencies, DOTC has put in place stringent requirements that derail, if not prevent, the implementation of the laudable intentions.

Citom, through its executive director, says that if it fails to obtain DOTC’s help, then it would ask that this be included in the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (Jica) study for the master plan for the Mega Cebu project. That Plan B still won’t have those bicycle lanes within the next few years.

But we can always look for inspiration in two of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Amsterdam has infrastructure and facilities for bicycle traffic, and implemented a widespread 30 km/h zones to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe. Copenhagen for its part has a local government that continues in creating a network of bicycle/pedestrian bridges and bicycle superhighways.

Political will and administrative creativity are needed to get bicycle lanes in place.

But it may be doubly hard in Cebu City, as sidewalk vendors fight for space and vehicles jam the roads.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2014.

Opinion

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