DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 May) – As more residents are biking to work in this city with the most number of COVID-19 positives in Mindanao, environmentalists and cycling advocates are calling on the city government to implement the 10-year old ‘Bicycle Ordinance of Davao City.’
Ordinance No. 0409-10 was passed in 2010 when President Rodrigo Duterte was still mayor and his daughter Sara was vice mayor and presiding chair of the City Council that passed ordinance.
The Bicycle Ordinance was authored by the late Councilor Leo Avila, one of the city’s green champions.
Chinkie Golle, Executive Director of the Davao City-based Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), said the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) wrote Mayor Duterte on May 18 to remind her of the 10-year old ordinance which contains a provision on bicycle lanes, for the safety of the cyclists, many of them laborers and frontline health workers.
SDM is a network of individuals, multi-sectoral organizations and institutions, advocating for a greener and more sustainable Davao City.
Bicycles have become a preferred mode of transportation now because public transport is scarce and the risk of exposure to the virus is high
The 2010 ordinance provides that the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) shall designate the routes to be considered as “signed shared roadways or signed bike routes” and install signs along the routes to “indicate to the bicycle users that particular advantages exist in using the route and more importantly to serve as notice to motorized vehicle drivers that bicycle traffic is present.”
CTTMO chief Dionisio Abude said the bicycle lanes might not be feasible as the roads in the city are narrow but the outer lanes, the space eyed for bicycle lanes, are already intended for the loading and unloading of passengers.
“We always compare Davao to other areas. If we look at Davao, our roads are really narrow and problematic. If we create bike lanes, they should be in the outer lane. However, we cannot allocate one lane just for them because we only have two or four lanes,” he told the Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on May 19.
He said the CTTMO has not identified bicycle lanes due to the current limitations of the roads. But he added the cyclists are encouraged to ride their bikes but reminded them to be extra careful knowing fully well the perils they could encounter on the road.
Golle said that as the as the country gears up for the “new normal,” bicycles are a much safer mode of transportation in this time of pandemic, not to mention more environment-friendly alternative, since physical distancing is encouraged to control the spread of COVID-19.
“It is also a safer alternative transportation option during COVID-19 outbreak. I think the LGU (local government unit) is interested. However, they waited for the implementation of HPBS (High Priority Bus System). That’s why, it took very long for them to really implement it,” she added.
Bike lanes, bike hours
In its letter, the SDM asked the mayor to establish bicycles lanes and devote bicycles hours where motorized private vehicles and motorcycles are regulated to give way to the burgeoning community of cyclists in the city.
It also suggested to declare all Sundays of the quarantine period as “official bicycle days” since there would be fewer motor vehicles plying the streets and to promote cycling as a recreational activity for Dabawenyos.
The group said the city government would be living up to its “Life is Here” campaign if it makes good on its promise, as contained in the 10-year old Bicycle Ordinance of Davao, to provide bicycles and promote their use during the COVID-19 pandemic. (AntonioL. Colina IV / MindaNews)