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Shift to bikes in new normal? DOTr says holistic approach needed for envi-friendly transpo

The public commuters' expected shift to bicycles under the new normal and its long-term sustainability would require a holistic approach, according to a Department of Transportation official on Thursday.

During a Senate hearing, Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark de Leon explained that the DOTr has prepared a policy framework for environmentally-sustainable modes of mobility in 2011.

He underscored that in order to effectively implement it, other factors that would affect the welfare of bikers must also be addressed: Smoke belching must be solved by improving emission standards of vehicles and road safety of cyclists may better be ensured through refined land use and transport planning.

"It's a multi-dimensional aspect and we should move forward as a government to realize environmentally sustainable transport in the Philippines," he said.

De Leon expressed support to various Senate bills intending to set up bicycle lanes on major and secondary thoroughfares amid the COVID-19 situation when mass transport remains to operate at limited capacity.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority deputy chairman Undersecretary Frisco San Juan, Jr. also stressed the same point that air pollution and unfavorable weather conditions have marred the promotion of use of bicycles in the past years.

He said many urban dwellers would be enticed to use this alternative mode of transportation if these would be addressed.

San Juan also proposed that the government or employers may also give incentives to bikers.

Other stakeholders likewise stressed the importance of creating a network of bike lanes around hospitals to make mobility easier and safer for frontliners.

In a separate Senate hearing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said various government agencies are now preparing the guidelines for the use of bicycles under the new normal.

"'Yung gudelines sa ngayon binubuo pa ng Department of Transportation, kasama po ang DILG at DPWH dahil ang layunin po dito ay siguraduhing protektado ang mga nagbibisikleta," Duque said.

"Kinakailanagn  po mayroon silang protective gear, 'yung helmet, mayroon silang knee shields, elbow shields para nang sa ganoon ay hindi magkaroon ng malubhang aksidente," he added.

Earlier this month, the DOTr acknowledged that two-wheel vehicles will play an important role in commuters' daily routine once the community quarantines have been lifted.

Sales of bicycles also increased in the past weeks as many workers in Metro Manila shifted to using these vehicles for transportation to work.

Last Sunday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority set up a bike lane along EDSA for the dry run of the new traffic scheme amid the COVID-19 situation. —LDF, GMA News