SETTING up shared priority bike lanes is not as easy as painting portions of the streets for the purpose. This is why Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera needs to be deliberate in her effort to see her bike lane ordinance through. The city council held a public hearing on Cabrera’s ordinance last Wednesday.

Let’s not talk about the benefits of biking because these are a given. Rather, the discussion and further study should focus on the best way of setting up bike lanes in relation to the city’s road conditions.

The Cabrera ordinance wants bike lanes to be set up within the city’s existing road network. That means designating a lane 1.5 meter in width from the curb. The lane is separated from motor traffic using painted markings. This system has advantage and disadvantages.

In other countries, though, bike lanes are demarcated by barriers or are placed in areas separate from the road. The latter point was raised by Nigel Paul Villarete, who represented the regional management council of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in the public hearing.

But even if mere painted markings are used, the road situation needs to be considered also. Fernando Cruz of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has a formula for this: have bike lanes only in roads that are at least 11 to 12 meters wide.

Traffic is another factor. Rafael Yap of the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) is concerned about the effect of the bike lane implementation on the flow of traffic and the safety of both cyclists and motorists.

Factor there the fact that the roadsides are usually used for parking and for loading and unloading of passengers. Proper arrangement should be made in this regard or the setting up of bike lanes could result to anarchy and increase in the number of vehicular accidents.

Yap put it well when said that the issue is not only about putting up bike lanes but also about convincing people to respect these bike lanes. Would motorists, especially public utility vehicles, respect the bike lanes when many of them don’t even respect traffic rules?