DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 June) – After seeing more Dabawenyos use bicycles in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, Dabawenya artist Mavi Novelero decided to give out free reflective sashes to bikers and frontliners, giving the popular social media jargon “seen-zone” a different meaning.
“Seen-zone” on social media means “ignored.”
But the 30-year old artist and biker had one thing in mind while pulling this initiative off the ground – putting the bikers and frontliners in the “seen-zone” to make them more visible, particularly at nighttime, to keep them away from harm’s way.
Novelero said her sister and some friends helped distribute reflective sashes to bikers, especially the newbies who have yet to equip themselves with proper safety gears and accessories like helmet, reflectors, lights, and blinkers, emphasizing the importance of road visibility.
“We prioritize the bikers who have no helmet and other safety accessories. There are so many of them. At the same time, we need to educate them on the importance of visibility. I am hopeful that when they have savings, they will invest in proper safety gears and accessories,” she said.
Novelero thought of doing this project to mark her 30th birthday last June 9 after a member of Tiklop Society of the Philippines, a Facebook group created for folding bike owners in the country, distributed free “Kita Ka” reflective sashes to bikers in Metro Manila and encouraged its members across the country to replicate similar initiative.
“They encouraged everyone to do the same on a personal level. I realized that making the sash would be easy. We have newbie bikers and we can see a lot who still have no proper safety gears or accessories,” she said.
Excited to help, Novelero immediately buckled down to work, borrowed a sewing machine from her sister who taught her to sew, and asked friends to help her distribute along the main streets of Davao such as Quirino Avenue, Magallanes Street, C.M. Recto Steet, and J.P. Laurel Avenue.
She said they planned to be out on the streets again on June 28 to give out reflective sashes.
“Hopefully, I can continue this project. I need volunteers who can help distribute in different areas and supporters who can donate materials,” she said.
She added one roll of reflective strip costs P600-800 at local shops and P150-P650 online.
She said a 50-meter roll could make about 30 sashes.
Anyone interested to help Novelero in her cause can contact her through Orange Trails on Facebook.
As the artist behind the seven-year old online shop Pinshoera, Novelero sells some of her hand-painted shoes and caps to raise more funds to sustain her project.
“Since we are affected by COVID-19, I have the time to make hand-painted shoes and caps again. Some of my profits from my ‘quarantine’ orders will be used to buy reflective sash materials,” she said.
She said she was elated to see that Dabawenyo bikers are growing in number, hoping more commuters will appreciate bicycles as an alternative micro mobility option amid the Covid-19 threat as it can benefit not only one’s health but also the environment.
“I hope the government and even the private sector will give more support to biking and other activity mobility options as an excellent alternative of transportation. I hope we can see more protected bike lanes, secured bike racks for every establishment, and laws that protect and incentivize bikers,” she said.
Mayor Sara Duterte released Executive Order 40 last June 20 suspending bicycle registration and the collection of registration fees, pending amendments to the Comprehensive Transport and Traffic Code and the 2020 Bicycle Ordinance of Davao to harmonize conflicting provisions.
The same order also requires bikers to wear helmet, headgear or protective head covering; use reflectors, or headlights, or rear lights or any other warning lights attached to the bicycle or on his/her person.
Bicycles made for single riders should not carry more than one passenger at a time while tandem bicycles will be allowed only for the capacity for which it is made.
Riders with cargo will not carry the same with their hands while operating the bike, nor place the same on their handlebars or along the wheelbase, and cargo must be placed in a wearable backpack or on a basket or carrier in front of the handlebars or behind the seat.
Section 1 of the EO provides that the requirements in the Traffic Code that would be suspended are the license required, registration, and attachment of license plate; and under the Bicycle Ordinance, the registration. The collection of penalties in both local laws have likewise been suspended.
“The temporary suspension of the implementation of some provisions of the two ordinances would allow Dabawenyos the use of the bike lanes without fear of penalty for non-registration,” the order said.
It added that the suspension would last until the state of public health emergency is lifted, or until the amendments harmonizing the Traffic Code and the Bicycle Ordinance have been approved or otherwise lifted by the City Mayor.
Section 4 of EO 40 states that the 72-kilometer bicycle lane marked by the City Transportation and Traffic Management Office may be used by all persons on bicycles, except pedal-operated passenger tricycles for hire.
The order prohibits all motorized transport vehicles to use, park or stop on the marked bicycle lanes while pedestrians are told to avoid walking along the bicycle lanes.
The marking of the 72-kilometer bicycle lane is ongoing. Two-way bicycle lanes are to be marked along Ma-a Road, MacArthur Highway, Quimpo Boulevard, Quezon Boulevard, Quirino Avenue, F. Torres St., Cabaguio Avenue, Leon Garcia, JP Laurel Avenue, Quinones Road and R. Castillo St while one-way lane will be marked along San Pedro St., Pichon St. and Claro M. Recto Avenue. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)