The following post is from a copy of an email sent by one of our friends, Neil Christopher Alaiza to Dannee Dee Bobadilla of the MMDA regarding the EDSA bike lanes. We are posting it in full with his permission of course, so that all our readers can appraise it for themselves and make their own opinion. As with all disclaimers, the views and opinions expressed on this post are solely those of the original author.
Update July 4, 2014: For other points of view regarding the pros and cons of bicycle lanes, please click on this link.
To whom it may concern:
First of all, I thank and congratulations to the MMDA for the so many visible improvements done in the Metro Manila roads that addressed the heavy traffic, mass transport, security, etc. Chairman Francis Tolentino is a visionary and his forward-thinking can really lead to greater changes.
My name is Neil Christopher Alaiza, a resident of Cubao, Quezon City and a frequent biker.
I mainly commute to UP Diliman or occasionally to Novaliches and Antipolo on my bike.I participated in the April critical mass ride of the Firefly Brigade last April wherein we tried out the EDSA bike lanes.Thank you for having the guts to even think of putting up bike lanes along the busiest highway in the Metro. However, certain issues came to mind. One of which is how it was developed.
|Neil confesses, “I honestly believe bike lanes shouldn’t be carved out of pedestrian lanes or sidewalks. As a biker, we are endangering the walking public if we occupied the sidewalks.”|
I honestly believe bike lanes shouldn’t be carved out of pedestrian lanes or sidewalks. As a biker, we are endangering the walking public if we occupied the sidewalks. Awareness seems to be a problem, or at least, the knowledge of the available signs. I’ve experienced a passersby unaware that he is walking along clearly marked bike lanes and when I made a signal with my ringer including a vocal signal to pass by, he got mad at me.
Seamlessness is also a key. The bike lanes from Boni Serrano to Ortigas ends so abruptly that bikers end up back on the main roads, at the mercy of speeding vehicles.I’ve also experienced biking along Marikina at night at I was a bit disappointed to see a lot of cars being parked along the bike lanes. They were literally useless and bikers were back on the streets, sharing the road with the motored vehicles.
So are bike lanes just for day time?
Bike lanes, should be smooth flowing and devoid of obstructions like potholes and low-hanging tree branches. The height of the gutter should also be considered, not to mention the lack of several PWD ramps, or in our case, bike ramps. The width should also be a priority to make the bike lane efficient. Bike lanes along Magallanes and Ayala are the worst. Honestly, it shouldn’t even pass as a sidewalk! It felt like we were trapped in a cage. I was even surprised we were able to pass through it, but unfortunately at the expense of the people having to wait for us to pass by the sidewalk.I know it is too much to ask but I believe a good two-way bike lane should be at least as wide as one whole vehicular lane.
|Fifteen Years of the Tour of the Fireflies
The fact that the Tour of the Fireflies is now on its fifteenth year comes as a bit of a surprise for someone who was involved in it from the beginning …
An excellent example is the UP Academic Oval. With proper traffic rerouting, they were able to implement one-way traffic with one whole lane dedicated to bikers and joggers. One whole lane is enough room for a side-walk and two-way bike traffic. Of course, this is obviously wishful thinking. Like we can really carve out a whole lane just for bikes along EDSA? Even I sound insane just saying that. But, in all honesty, I feel it is how it should be.So, if it can’t be done, what are our options?I wouldn’t mind being diverted to side streets, provided they are clearly marked and well-lit. Instead of bike lanes, how about bike streets? I’m not even asking for exclusivity in the roads but making sure bikes are prioritized would encourage more bikers.
How the Dutch got their cycle paths
“build it and they will come”
And I haven’t mentioned the availability of bike racks yet! Most establishments still don’t have decent parking for bikes. Most of us still resort to chaining our bikes on light posts, or grilled fences. That is just degrading.EDSA, being heavily congested is obviously an issue. The presence of a bike lane along the whole of EDSA would have been great. However, addressing the concerns of bikers are hampered by the fact that EDSA is just too congested. So we segway to another issue in our country, the mass transport buses. Any updates on the proposed BUS-RAPID transit system? I’ve seen on youtube a video of Transmilenio of Bogota which I thought really is an efficient mass transport design.
Ever considered such a system along EDSA? Like instead of the outer lane, buses will travel in the inner lanes and with designed stations like MRT stations thereby preventing the public from getting on a bus just anywhere. No need for conductors too since the passenger already paid their fare at the station. The driver won’t have to rush for passengers are passengers are readily waiting at the designated stations.Also, I was thinking of a unique system wherein buses plying EDSA should be strictly just plying EDSA from end to end. They are either northbound or sounthbound. Buses will start at Monumento in Caloocan and will pass through southbound EDSA, with limited or controlled bus stations. As the bus approaches MOA in Pasay which is on the other end of EDSA, the bus now becomes northbound and will pass through EDSA again. Buses from Commonwealth, Caloocan, NLEX and other routes passing through EDSA will end their trips at designated EDSA stations, acting as fillers to the EDSA BUS SYSTEM.
Passengers will be required to make transfers, especially the ones coming from Commonwealth, Caloocan, Cavite, etc, but in my opinion, this will reduce areas wherein passengers have difficulty getting bus rides. And with the buses, just like in my first suggestion, traveling along the inner lanes, I strongly believe will reduce heavy traffic. I believe their exclusivity in one lane and making sure they stay on that lane, perhaps putting up barriers, will discourage drivers from waiting in stations for too long just to fill up his bus. Quotas will no longer be applicable since they are monitored and timed. Timing chips would be of great help and shouldn’t cost too much. Running events use timing chips all the time and perhaps they can be consulted regarding this matter.I feel that with an improved mass transport, car owners will be encouraged to commute on public transport rather than on their own cars, which, in my opinion, really outnumber the public vehicles. I believe they are one of the major causes of congestion along EDSA.
I’m not an engineer, nor at public office. However, I do share the sentiments of my fellow bikers in saying these bike lanes just won’t do. Hope these suggestions are considered. Hope your good office will come up with brilliant solutions to our commuting problems.
Neil Christopher Alaiza