If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic should have highlighted transport-wise, it’s that Metro Manila is severely lacking in infrastructure to support active modes of transport like cycling and walking—motorists know this, commuters know this, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is acknowledging it, too.
In a statement, the government agency urged local government units (LGU) to build more bike lanes and walking paths. According to the DILG, the move will not only provide an alternative to mass transportation options like trains and buses—which it described as “vulnerable to coronavirus transmission”—but encourage the public to consider active modes of getting around, too.
“Data from the ground show that the public transport system can be a breeding ground for COVID-19 transmission kaya patuloy ang ating paghikayat sa mga LGU na magtayo ng walking paths at bike lanes. Ito po ay para matiyak din na ligtas ang mga mamamayan sa kanilang paglalakad o pagbaba-bike,” DILG secretary Eduardo Año said.
“At ngayon nga na we have signed a JAO with other agencies, we urge the LGUs to see this as an urgent matter para magamit na agad ng mga tao,” he added.
To make things official, the agency signed joint administrative order (JAO) 2020-0001 with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr). Essentially, the JAO asks LGUs to focus on building infrastructure for active modes of transport. This isn’t just limited to new bike lanes and paths, either, as the document mentions bicycle racks, and even changing rooms for freshening up after sweaty commutes.
“The COVID-19 crisis is pushing us to be adaptive at itong paglalagay ng mga bike lane at walking path ay isang paraan ng pagtugon natin sa mga hamon ng pandemyang ito kaya sana ay makuha natin ang pakikiisa ng mga pamahalaaang lokal,” Año explained.
This isn’t the first time the DILG has stressed the importance of alternative modes of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the agency released issued memorandum circular 2020-100, which set up guidelines for the creation of a new network of cycling lanes. So, can we expect even more bicycle lanes and better sidewalks in the near future?