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Bike lanes on Ayala Avenue, Makati to become shared lanes starting Feb. 15

Bike lanes along Ayala Avenue will become shared lines starting Wednesday, February 15, to accommodate more commuters using public utility vehicles (PUVs), the Makati City government said.

“Starting February 15, 2023 (Wednesday), the Ayala Avenue bike lanes will be changed to sharrows or shared lanes to accommodate both bikers along with the increasing number of commuters riding PUVs and help improve traffic flow in the city,” the local government said in an advisory over the weekend.

The announcement, however, did not sit well with bikers.

At least 250 cyclists, commuters,and even car-owners came together on Sunday to protest Makati's planned implementation of turning its protected bike lanes on Ayala Avenue into "sharrows" or shared roads, where bikes and e-scooters will be pitted against other PUVs.

According to a joint statement signed by nearly 200 people as of Monday, "The removal of what used to be the gold standard for protected bike lane width has dashed the hopes of many road users for safer streets in our cities."

"Sharrows will not keep us safer. Paint is not protection. Removing bollards is a death sentence. There are design options to keep all of us safe and keep public transport moving without taking space away from our most vulnerable road users: cyclists, pedestrians, women, children, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities," it added. 

In the statement, various groups including delivery workers, active mobility users, motorcycle riders, health care workers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, as well as commuters said they "refuse to be divided and pitted against each other. We want just one thing: To arrive at our destinations and come home safe."

Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita on Monday, AltMobility Philippines director Ira Cruz said turning bike lanes into shared lanes would put bikers at risk.

“Tutol kami doon sa kanilang minumungkahi na shared lanes dahil hindi ito realistic para sa ating mga bikers. Napaka-importante kasi na una, masigurado natin na ligtas ang mga bikers,”  he said.

(We are opposing their proposal for shared lanes because it is not realistic. It is important that first, we ensure that bikers are safe.)

According to Cruz, there are road designs that they can discuss with the Makati City government that would solve its concerns for commuters including designating more PUV lanes.

In a separate statement on Sunday, the Makati City government acknowledged concerns regarding the shared lanes but maintained that it will push through with its plan.

“We ask for your support and understanding and we look forward to nurturing the good relationship we have built with the biking community as we come up with more bike-friendly initiatives in the city,” it said. —Joviland Rita/KBK/LA, GMA Integrated News