NEDA: Bike lanes needed amid public transport shortage
MANILA: The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is promoting cycling as a form of daily transport to help more Filipinos safely get to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the "Moving as One: Public Private Cooperation on Active Mobility" forum last March 5, NEDA Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the economy, especially the transport sector. The community quarantines and physical distancing regulations that help protect lives inadvertently reduced transport supply and resulted in public transport shortages.”
Based on a study by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), the land transport sector reduced 30.7% last year. This was three times worse compared to the overall gross domestic product (GDP).
Chua stated that the reduction in transportation can negatively affect the rest of the economy despite having larger and commercially successful connections. He said that lower vehicle capacities have also resulted to a shortage in land transport. Because of this, a significant rise in passenger road transport inflation was observed—from 2.6% in 2019 to 9.6% in 2020.
“As we learn to live with the virus, improving access to mobility in the country is crucial in jump-starting the economy. In the Greater Manila area, only 12.5% of households own private cars. Meanwhile, the rest cannot go to work because of limited public transportation. Promoting cycling and other modes of active transportation will provide safe, healthy, and affordable means of participating in the economy,” Chua said.
The Bureau of Customs reported that bicycle imports had increased from one million units to 2.1 million units from 2019 to 2020. This is equivalent to a 112% growth rate, which reveals that number of Filipinos who use cycling as a form of transport has signfincantly increased.
According to a 2020 study by the Social Weather Stations and Department of Health (DOH), 87% of Filipinos believe that public transportation, bikes, and pedestrians must be prioritized in order to improve the roads in the metro.
On behalf of the agency, Chua expressed his support of the bike lane programs of the DOH, Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in major roads around Metro Manila.
“We are one with the various national agencies and local government units in their concerted efforts to increase mobility of people as we carefully reopen the economy. The current bike lane design provides significant protection to the growing number of cyclists, myself included,” Chua stated. “We are also inviting the private sector to contribute to this alternative transport movement by providing end-of-trip facilities such as bike parking spaces and shower areas for employees who bike or walk to work.”
Private sectors are also encouraged to consider provision of incentives for cycling, similar to how companies provide shuttle services to employees.
The Moving as One: Public Private Cooperation on Active Mobility forum was organized by the DOH, the Makati Business Club, and the Move as One Coalition.
Photo from Bikers United Marshalls Facebook Page