Bikers along Bengino S. Aquino Avenue in Baliuag, Bulacan.
Bikers along Bengino S. Aquino Avenue in Baliuag, Bulacan.

Cycling is a popular mode of transport and recreational sport in the Philippines. In the present day, many of those who cycle in the country mainly do so as a mode of transport and as recreational activities, such as road racing, mountain biking, and recreational cycling. The popularity of cycling however, has largely been limited to the more rural areas of the Philippines with underdeveloped, open roads with less motorist traffic as a result of little to no cycling infrastructure in urban areas, making cycling in such areas dangerous due to motorized traffic.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension and restriction of public transport in the country, many Filipinos turned to cycling as an alternative mode of transportation, accelerating the development and promotion of active transportation infrastructure in urban areas.

History

Colonial era

Bicycles were first introduced to the country in the 1880s, among other 20th century technologies introduced during the Spanish colonial occupation of the Philippines.[1] American author Joseph Earle Stevens, who was living in Manila at the time, described cycling as a booming mode of transport on the streets of Manila, especially among the local mestizo population, as well as bicycle races that took place in Luneta, Manila in his journal entries in 1894.[2] While in exile in Dapitan, Philippine national hero Jose Rizal wrote a letter on December 18, 1895 to his mother, requesting her to buy him a second-hand bicycle that he could use for his trips to town.[3]

Following the Spanish Empire's secession of the Philippines to the United States, bicycles made in the United States found their way into the local streets.[4] In 1901, the Taft Commission under United States Army Provost Marshal General Arthur MacArthur Jr. approved City Ordinance No. 11, or "An Ordinance Relating to the Use of the Public Streets and Places of Manila" for the City of Manila. Under Section 21 of this ordinance, bicycles were regarded as vehicles on public streets and were to adhere to traffic ordinances and regulations. Bicycles were required to carry a bell, which was to be sounded when approaching a street intersection or crossing, or any vehicle or pedestrian occupying the street. Bicycles were also required to carry a light when in use during the night.[5] Bicycle registration also took place, with over 2,000 bikes being registered until registration was halted in 1906. The use of bicycles as a recreational activity were marketed in the country as early as the 1920s, with a July 1926 issue of the Philippine Education Magazine promoting bicycle-riding as an economic mode of transport with health benefits.[4]

Commonwealth and WWII era

It was estimated that by 1942, there were over 12,750 bicycles being used as a mode of transport by Manila's then population of 9,000 people, including those in the outlying areas.[6] During the second World War and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the Imperial Japanese Army used bicycle infantry to move around and carry weaponry such as machine guns.

Imperial Japanese Army soldiers entering Manila on bicycles, as the city surrenders to the Japanese and declares itself an "open city" to prevent further destruction.
Imperial Japanese Army soldiers entering Manila on bicycles, as the city surrenders to the Japanese and declares itself an "open city" to prevent further destruction.

By 1944, the occupying Japanese forces seized many carts, bicycles, tricycles, pedicabs, and pushcarts from the local population, crippling local public transportation.[6]

Post-WWII

A cycle rickshaw taxi carrying passengers along Labuca Street in Cansojong, Talisay, Cebu.
A cycle rickshaw taxi carrying passengers along Labuca Street in Cansojong, Talisay, Cebu.

Since then, the bicycle continued to serve as a mode of transport for Filipinos, but dwarfed by the popularity of the automobile, motorized tricycles, and the jeepney as a primary mode of transport. As a result, the use of bicycles became more limited to areas with little motorized road traffic, as cycling remained popular as a sport and for cyclotourism.[7]

As the road system and inefficient public transportation struggled to cope with population booms and increasing car ownership, people across different socioeconomic backgrounds turned to cycling as a mode of transport. However, the lack of cycling infrastructure in cities has caused many altercations between bicycles and motorized vehicles, leading to growing clamor for active transportation infrastructure to alleviate traffic in cities.[8]

Bicycle parking along a raised pedestrian crossing inside the University of Santo Tomas in Sampaloc, Manila.
Bicycle parking along a raised pedestrian crossing inside the University of Santo Tomas in Sampaloc, Manila.

In April 2009, the Office of the Vice Rector for Finance of the University of Santo Tomas installed motorcycle and bicycle parking along designated spaces inside its campus. The bicycle parking spaces are free of charge and are open to students, employees, and visitors of the university.[9]

On November 8, 2009, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) inaugurated its "Bike On, Bike Off" or "Bike O2" project, allowing folding bicycles to be brought onto Line 1 and Line 2 trains to promote bimodal transportation to reduce traffic on the road. The LRTA also announced that the last car of each train would be designated as "green zones", where folding bicycle users can ride with their bikes,[10] provided that it does not exceed the LRTA's baggage size limitations of 2 by 2 feet (20 by 20 in).[11] After much persuasion from folding bike groups, this was followed by the MRT Line 3 also allowing folding bikes to be brought into trains on February 1, 2012, albeit only for folding bikes with wheels not more than 20 inches (51 cm) in diameter.[12]

Class I bike lane and jogging lane along the Iloilo Diversion Road in Iloilo City.
Class I bike lane and jogging lane along the Iloilo Diversion Road in Iloilo City.
Class I bike lanes established along the Marikina–Infanta Highway in Santolan, Pasig.
Class I bike lanes established along the Marikina–Infanta Highway in Santolan, Pasig.

Local government units have since also implemented cycling infrastructure and initiatives in their own cities and municipalities, such as Marikina City and Pasig City in Metro Manila, Iloilo City in Iloilo, and Vigan City in Ilocos Sur,[13] while other cities such as Mandaluyong included plans to establish bike routes around their cities.[14]

On February 7, 2019, the Department of Public Works and Highways inaugurated the country's first protected bike lane along a national highway, located along the Laguna Lake Highway of Circumferential Road 6. The bike lane is a 3-meter-wide (9.8 ft) bi-directional roadway spanning 5.8 kilometers (3.6 mi) of the 6.94 kilometers (4.31 mi) highway, and is physically separated from the highway with a planting strip. [15]

COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, public transport was suspended and subsequently reopened at a limited capacity. As a result, cycling as a mode of transport grew in popularity among Filipinos who needed means to go to and from their workplace safely and efficiently. This, alongside the decreased road traffic in many urban areas as a result of the community quarantine classifications led to the fast-tracked development of active transport infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes and bike parking amidst the pandemic, further encouraging bike ridership.[16]

On April 16, 2020, Pasig City became the first local government unit in the country to recognize biking as an essential mode of transport, wherein it passed city resolutions and executive orders for the pavement of bike lanes and allowing the reopening of bicycle shops, which were previous considered as non-essential under the community quarantine restrictions.[17][18]

Establishment of bike lane network

With the country transitioning into the looser general community quarantine and in anticipation of people returning to work, the MMDA, in coordination with cyclists and scooter riders pushing for permanent active transport infrastructure, conducted a dry run of pop-up bike lanes along EDSA, the main thoroughfare in Metro Manila on July 3, 2020, coinciding with World Bicycle Day. The agency also vowed to support the provision of bike lanes across the metropolis.[19] On the same day, San Juan also formally launched its own bike lanes.[20]

As of July 2021, the Department of Transportation has announced that a 497 kilometers (309 mi) of bike lanes in the country's metropolitan areas have been completed, with 313 kilometers (194 mi) in Metro Manila, 129 kilometers (80 mi) in Metro Cebu, and 55 kilometers (34 mi) in Metro Davao, consisting of pavement markings, physical separators, and road signage.

The Department of Transportation announced on November 28, 2021, coinciding with National Bicycle Day,[21] that it would be working with Google to push for the inclusion of its national bike lane network into Google Maps.[22]

2022 Philippine presidential elections

During a business keynote on November 17, 2021, presidential candidate Leni Robredo promised to encourage outdoor economic activity and to review and expand the existing bike lane network, proposing to increase the bicycle infrastructure budget from ₱1.6 billion to ₱14 billion to install more bicycle lanes around the country.[23]

Citing the November 2020 and May 2021 bicycle ownership and usership surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations, the UniTeam Alliance ticket of presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos and vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte vowed to finish the planned improvements of the nationwide bike lane network to increase public confidence in using bicycles as a preferred mode of transportation. The UniTeam has also mentioned plans to offer zero-interest loans to make bicycles more affordable for Filipinos and roll out similar bike lane networks in other urban centers as part of their vision for a seamless intermodal transportation system in the country.[24]

Bicycle use and ownership

Since 2020, the Social Weather Stations has conducted multiple surveys nationwide assessing the ownership and use of bicycles as a mode of transportation and as a recreational activity.

May 2020 survey

A May 2020 survey on bicycle and motor vehicle ownership in the country conducted from May 4 to 10, 2020 on 4,010 participants, 11 percent of households owned a bicycle, while 2 percent of households owned a bicycle with a sidecar or pedicab. The remaining 50 percent of participants owned motor vehicle, with 31 percent owning 2-wheeled motor vehicles (motorcycles), 13 percent owning 3-wheeled motor vehicles (tricycles), and only 6 percent owning 4-wheeled motor vehicles (cars). The remaining 37 percent of households did not own a bicycle or a motor vehicle.[25]

Follow-up surveys on bicycle and motor vehicle ownership was conducted from July 3 to 6, 2020 with 1,555 participants and from September 17 to 20, 2020 with 1,249 participants, where bicycle ownership had increased to 14 percent and 13 percent of households, respectively. In the July survey, 52 percent of households were motor vehicle owners, and non-owners of bicycles or motor vehicles accounted for 32 percent of households. This has decreased in the September survey, where motor vehicles accounted for 50 percent of households, and non-owners of bicycles or motor vehicles accounted for 35 percent of households. [25]

November 2020 survey

As pandemic restrictions eased by the end of the year, a November 2020 survey on bicycle and motor vehicle ownership was conducted from November 21-25, 2020 with 1,500 participants, where 8 percent of households owned a bicycle, 1 percent owned a bicycle with a sidecar or pedicab, 33 percent owned a motorcycle, 11 percent owned a motorized tricycle, and 6 percent owned a car. The remaining 42 percent of households did not own a bicycle or a motor vehicle.[25]

The survey also polled respondents on whether they believed that their city or municipality could become a viable place for walking and cycling, with 85 percent of respondents agreeing with this statement, 7 percent undecided, and 8 percent disagreeing. When asked if roads in Philippine cities and municipalities would be better off prioritizing public transportation, bicycles, and pedestrians over private vehicles, 87 percent of respondents agreed, 7 percent were undecided, and 6 percent of respondents disagreed.[25]

April-May 2021 survey

In 2021, following an early year surge in COVID-19 cases and the implementation of the nationwide bike lane network in full swing, a more comprehensive survey on bicycle and motor vehicle ownership was conducted from April 28, 2020 to May 2, 2021 with 1,200 participants. In the survey, 20 percent of households owned a bicycle, 1 percent owned a bicycle with a sidecar or pedicab, 36 percent owned a motorcycle, 10 percent owned a motorized tricycle, and 5 percent owned a car. The remaining 28 percent of households did not own a bicycle or a motor vehicle.[25]

The May 2021 survey reveals that 25 percent of households nationwide use bicycles, with 19 percent of them using their own bicycle, and 6 percent of them using a borrowed bicycle. It notes that cycling households with either their own bicycles or borrowed bicycles mainly used them for essential activities, followed by recreational activities, at a 2:1 ratio.[25]

42 percent of households also stated that they have been using bicycles more frequently than before, while 38 percent have stated to be using bicycles the same as before, with only 19 percent stating that they have been using bicycles less frequently than before.[25]

19 percent of households with bicycle users use them for essential activities, with 12 percent using bicycles for market or grocery runs, 6 percent using bicycles for going to and from their workplace, 4 percent using bicycles as part of their job or livelihood, and 3 percent who use bicycles to commute to non-work places.[25]

Meanwhile, 9 percent of households that use bicycles use them for recreational activities, with 6 percent of them using bicycles for exercise, 4 percent use them for sightseeing, and 1 percent use them for playing. The survey also notes that some 2 percent of bicycle-owning households have bicycles left unused.[25]

Bike lanes

The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation through DPWH Department Order 88 series of 2020 defines bike lanes into three classes, based on prevailing road and traffic conditions. The order also provides that all new road and bridge construction and expansion projects must incorporate bike lanes with an absolute minimum width of 2.44 m (8.0 ft)[26]

Under these guidelines, the maximum slope grade of all bike lane crossings and Class I bike lanes should not exceed 5 percent, while Class II and Class III bike lanes must follow the slope grade of the roadway.[26]

Class I

A Class I bike lane along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
A Class I bike lane along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Class I bike lanes are shared use paths or bike paths, which are designated paths completely separated from the roadway that are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or shared with pedestrians.[26]

The preferred minimum width of a Class I bike lane is 3.00 m (9.84 ft), which may be widened to 4.30 m (14.1 ft) to accommodate higher traffic volume or briefly narrowed to 2.44 m (8.0 ft) at narrow road sections. Class I bike lanes are separated from motor vehicle roadways by open spaces and are recommended on roads with moderate to high speed and high traffic volume.[26]

Class II

Physically-separated Class II bike lanes along Emerald Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Physically-separated Class II bike lanes along Emerald Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig City
A dilapidated paint-marked Class II bike lane along Remedios Street, Malate, Manila
A dilapidated paint-marked Class II bike lane along Remedios Street, Malate, Manila

Class II bike lanes are separated bike lanes that use pavement markings or physical separation to designate a portion of the road for exclusive use by bicycles.[26]

Class II bike lanes may be distinguished by pavement markings using paint, or by physical separation using bollards, curbs, plant boxes, concrete barriers, or a median strip with elevation changes. Pavement markings are recommended on roads with low to moderate traffic volume, while physical separation is recommended on roads with moderate to high speed and high traffic volume.[26]

Class III

Class III bike lanes are shared roadways, which are roads used by motor vehicles but are officially designated as bicycle routes.[26]

These are placed on roads with a minimum lane width of 3.35 m (11.0 ft) and a maximum lane width of 4.2 m (14 ft), operating speeds not exceeding 40 km/h (25 mph) and have low volume of traffic and limited carriageway width. These lanes are distinguished by signs encouraging cyclists to "share the road".[26]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Stevens, Joseph Earle (1898). Yesterdays in the Philippines. Project Gutenberg. pp. 27, 31.
  3. ^ "Howie Severino: Rizal's wish for a second-hand bicycle". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  4. ^ a b Giron, Brian Paul (2020-10-04). "Finding bikes in our history". Cycling Matters. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  5. ^ Dept, United States War (1903). Annual Report of the Secretary of War. U.S. Government Printing Office.
  6. ^ a b Danquah, Francis (2005). "Reports on Philippine Industrial Crops in World War II from Japan's English Language Press". Agricultural History. 79 (1): 79–80. doi:10.1215/00021482-79.1.74. JSTOR 3744878. S2CID 247819180 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ "Cyclotourism in the Philippines". Manila Bulletin. 2020-12-01. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  8. ^ Interaksyon (2017-04-26). "CYCLING Not fun in the Philippines". Interaksyon. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  9. ^ "UST allots parking for bikers". The Varsitarian. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  10. ^ GMANews.TV, SOPHIA DEDACE. "Bikes, trains, and fewer cars with LRT's Bike O2 project". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  11. ^ "Wala pong limit sa diameter ng wheels. Kaugnay naman po ng bagahe, hanggang 2 feet x 2 feet po ang maximum dimension na pinapayagan sa LRT-2". Twitter. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  12. ^ News, CARMELA G. LAPEÑA, GMA. "Bike to work? Why not? MRT now allows folding bikes". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  13. ^ "Creating sustainable transport systems: PH's progress so far". Rappler. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  14. ^ Mandaluyong City Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance 2017-2032 (PDF). Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. August 23, 2017. pp. 61, 79–80. Retrieved October 5, 2021.((cite book)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  15. ^ "LOOK: Philippines gets first protected bike lane along national highway". RAPPLER. 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2022-05-16.
  16. ^ "As cycling booms during pandemic, advocates pedal toward sustainable transport". Rappler. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  17. ^ "Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution No. 59, Series of 2020". Facebook. April 6, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Reysio-Cruz, DJ Yap, Matthew (2020-05-14). "Pasig City makes busy streets safer for bikers". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  19. ^ Ong, Ghio. "MMDA holds dry run for bicycle lane on EDSA". Philstar.com. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  20. ^ News, G. M. A. "San Juan to launch pop-up bike lanes as Metro Manila transitions to GCQ". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  21. ^ Esguerra, Darryl John (2020-11-19). "Duterte declares fourth Sunday of November as National Bicycle Day". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  22. ^ Mercurio, Richmond. "DOTr wants bike lanes included on Google maps". Philstar.com. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  23. ^ Yang, Angelica Y. (2021-11-17). "Robredo eyes P14 billion for bike lane expansion; boosting outdoor economic activity". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  24. ^ INQUIRER.net (2022-03-15). "Marcos Jr., Sara vow to include bike lanes in future gov't road projects if elected". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i Entoma, Christian (January 17, 2022). "Bicycle Usage Among Filipino Households During the Covid-19 Pandemic" (PDF). Social Weather Stations. Retrieved March 28, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h "GUIDELINES ON THE DESIGN OF BICYCLE FACILITIES ALONG NATIONAL ROADS" (PDF). Department of Public Works and Highways. Retrieved March 27, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)