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Nearly 200K cyclists ply major roads nationwide

More and more Filipinos are turning to bicycles, amid worsening traffic, rising fuel and commuting costs, and Covid-19 still lurking in the background.

The Mobility Awards, convened by climate groups and bicycle advocates, recently conducted a bike count and learned that 191,578 cyclists ply major roads across the Philippines.

In a webinar on Thursday, Aldrin Pelicano, founder of MNL Moves and inclusive mobility adviser of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable  Cities (ICSC) said "the 191,578 bike traffic volume is still a significant undercount. We need permanent count programs that use appropriate technologies to ensure we capture up to date data focused on the growing population of cyclists and active transport users in the country.”

According to the ICSC meanwhile, "191,578 cyclists on the road roughly translate to daily fuel cost savings ranging from PHP 147,360.57 to PHP 307,329.53 per kilometer, which are compelling figures given the continuing rise in fuel prices in the Philippines."

Pelicano meanwhile added that the number also avoided at least 4.46 tons of carbon dioxide emission, a huge deal given that scientists are urging governments to lower emissions to meet the 1.5C limit for global warming, set in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

The Philippines targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.

According to Metro Naga Active Transport Community organizer Ramon Dominic Nobleza, "local governments [and] many stakeholders can use the bike count data in improving their policies and programs, including the business sector and the academe. Bicol has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, and in turn, laborers and construction workers cycle to save money. These are the stories that we see through numbers."

Among the recommendations of cycling advocates were for bicycle lanes to be connected to residential areas, schools, local amenities, and recreation spaces. These will "avoid the danger of cycling with four-wheeled vehicles na talagang talamak po, minsan hindi po nila nire-respecto ang ating mga cyclists," said Nicole Trisha Panganiban, Senid GAD specialist of the Philippine Commission on Women.

She also recommended establishing more portable toilets for women along the roads as well as creating development activities and training for bikers to guide and empower them with knowledge.

This year's count is the second round done by the Mobility Awards. Around 600 volunteers monitored 99 different locations across 10 Philippine cities in a four-hour window through 18 days. 

The cities are Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Baguio, Naga, Cebu, Mandaue, Iloilo, and Davao. 

The bike count was piloted in Metro Manila last 2021, where 168 volunteers recorded 38,932 people on bicycles, 1,658 personal mobility device users, and 12,787 pedestrians in Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, and Quezon City. — LA, GMA News