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Malacañang declares fourth Sunday of November as National Bicycle Day

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Nov 19, 2020 6:46 pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared every fourth Sunday of November as National Bicycle Day beginning this year.

Proclamation No. 1052 issued on November 18 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea states that the declaration will “highlight the importance of non-motorized transportation as a means of fostering sustainable development and promoting environmental health that is conducive to the physical health and well-being of Filipinos.”

The observance of National Bicycle Day will be led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in partnership with relevant non-government organizations and civil society groups.

The petition for the proclamation of Nation Bicycle Day began on January 2014, when the National Bicycle Organization (NBO) requested President Benigno Aquino III for a National Bicycle Month and/or a National Bicycle Day. The letter was then filed as an Executive Order through the DENR and Environment Management Bureau (EMB) before it was approved Wednesday.

Over many decades, several Filipinos have turned to cycling to stay healthy and travel through cities. It has also been a cost-efficient way to foster a sustainable environment because it has zero fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Additionally, cycling helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, as Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said in the Department of Health’s virtual presser on June 3, the World Bicycle Day.

“Hindi lamang alternatibong paraan ng transportasyon ang bisikleta, ang palagiang pagbibisekleta ay ehersisyo din na makakatulong upang tumaas ang ating immune system, na lalo tayong inihahanda sa paglaban sa COVID-19 virus,” Singh-Vergeire said.  

In the same briefing, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran explained that a joint administrative order is being reviewed by the DOTr, DILG, DPWH and DOH to identify guidelines for the use and promotion of active transport both during and after the pandemic. 

“Hindi lamang sa pag-maintain ng physical distancing, but at the same time this will deliver substantial environmental and health benefits and achieve efficient use of road space. DOTr is very committed to support initiatives to develop more facilities to make biking safer,” Libiran added.

Bikers can now ride through EDSA safely, thanks to the bike lanes installed along the thoroughfare in August this. year. Photo courtesy of Michael Varcas of PhilSTAR.

Part of the initiatives implemented by DOTr this year is the installation of bike lanes along the EDSA.

Launched on August 15 in coordination with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the EDSA bike lane runs through six major sections in the metro: Aurora to Santolan, Santolan to Ortigas, Ortigas to Shaw, Shaw to Guadalupe, Guadalupe to Buendia, and Buendia to Magallanes.

Taking off from its success, the DOTr is then planning to create a 295-kilometer bike lane throughout Metro Manila should they be provided with enough funds for the project.

“In accordance with the Metro Manila-wide bike lane network, tayo ay nakikipagtulungan sa ating mga congressmen and senators na sana ay mabigyan ito ng pondo for this year through Bayanihan 2,” DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said in a virtual briefing on August 19.

He added, “For circumferential roads, this will cover C1, C2, C3, C4, EDSA line, C5, C5 extension, and C6 — a stretch of 204.5 kilometers, while for radial roads, it will cover R1, R2, R10, R4, R5, and R9, or at least 295.22 kilometers.”

Aside from EDSA, other areas in the Philippines with prominent bike lanes are Iloilo, Taguig, Pasig, Parañaque, Pampanga, and Bacolod.