The MMDA seems to think that constructing (read: carving) bike lanes out of existing streets will encourage more people to bike and leave their cars at their garages. They have done this in several Metro Manila streets and they seem to be sure that cyclists are using them. The true state of these bike lanes however are quite the opposite of what they had in mind. Here are photographic proofs of our claim:
These pictures represent what is flagrantly wrong in our cities – city planners who have no idea what they are there for and the projects they do are all products of their straitjacketed minds, projects that don’t reflect the true needs of the people.
Take the Marcos highway bike lanes for example – no, wait, they are not bike lanes but designated parking spaces for stores and all types of establishments that line this major thoroughfare. The MMDA and the Pasig City police are of no use even if you complain about these obstructions along the so called bike lanes.
If you think you can bike all throughout their length, you’d better think again because you’d run right smack into electric posts, even a pedestrian overpass or two, gaping concrete manholes without cover, and of course the ubiquitous parked vehicles. You could even see barangay patrol tricycles there! These bike lanes are a total waste of taxpayers’ money and time.
|A Desire for some Quiet in our Transport System
NOISY. Our roads are noisy. At 4:00 AM, I am awakened by the sound of a speeding jeepney on Gil Fernando Avenue and I don’t even live on that street; I live a block away….
Even with cars and trucks whizzing by on the highway itself, you’d be safer there than on the bike lane! Now, you will see that this is quite an exaggerated claim; of course it is exaggerated and of course too, it isn’t safer, but you’d have to see for yourself the real situation. Try to bike there and decide which is actually safer or which is actually more dangerous because indeed, both can be declared as very dangerous.
For those who bike to work, cycling is a way of life and it is not just for exercising or for showing off their bikes on weekend runs to their favorite bike trails outside the city. For them cycling is a life-extending activity and one, they hope will be accepted as part of mainstream urban mass transportation as well. But unless we as society accept cycling as a way of life too and not just an alternative to what we have been accustomed to (such as cars and other motorized means of transport), no number of bike lanes will ever provide cyclists with even a moderate modicum of safety. You might be thinking now of the The Netherlands, which as a nation, has done it. Yes, we all know what the Dutch have accomplished. The Netherlands is world famous for being a cycling country but they did not become a cycling country overnight; they built their reponsive cycling infrastructure not for show but for practical reasons and as a result of cyclists, motorists and government officials coordinating and cooperating with each other to build what’s now the envy of all bike-loving people around the world. The Philippines is a long, long, long way from the stage where the Dutch are right now. Sadly, we are still to get on the correct lane.