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#WorkersWhoBike: Ditching cars for good

Text By: Buena Bernal || Photos By: Vera Files

MANILA, Philippines – Government data shows majority of road fatalities in the Philippines are riders of two-wheelers such as bicycles and motorcycles at 66%, with pedestrians coming second at 22%.

At least one Philippines City, Pasig City, is seeking to prioritize pedestrians over cars in its road policies.

The city is looking into partnering with the private sector in subsidizing bike-sharing not just for Pasig City residents but also for residents of other cities who go to work in Pasig. The city hosts a vibrant business district that relies on professionals who come even from the outskirts of the Philippines’ urban center Metro Manila.

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Already, the city is providing greater incentive for the designation of bike parking spaces in commercial buildings. It has also constructed elevated crossways in crucial road intersections to ensure efficient passage and mobility of pedestrians.

At the cornerstone of these efforts is Mr. Robert Anthony Siy, Pasig City Transport Development Management Officer.

Anyone who has heard Mr. Siy speak in public about his advocacy of keeping the city’s roads safe knows he speaks about it with a sparkle in his eye, as if it is his life’s mission. 

Those who have sat through one of his road safety talks relegate his bright-eyed idealism to his youth. But as we continue our series called #WorkersWhoBike, we learn more about the man getting the ball rolling in Pasig City.

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In this short Q&A with Workers of PH, Mr. Siy shares how his journey to ditching car use for good started all while maintaining his resolute belief that making our roads safe and accessible to road users of all kinds should be a priority for Metro Manila.

Q: Why do you/did you used to bike to work?

A: “My biking started because my fiance (at the time girlfriend) moved to a place where parking was scarce and difficult. So I started riding a folding bike to go see her. After I started riding a bike to see her, I thought of using the bike to go to work. I started in November 2017 and haven’t looked back to using a car! But since that time, I’ve bought and started using an electric kick scooter so I don’t bike to work as much. Still no plans of going back to driving a car.”

Q: From your experience, how dangerous are Manila’s roads for a biker?

A: “Manila’s roads are dangerous for bikers. One thing you notice about Manila is that only strong, fit bikers can commute on a regular basis because you need the fitness and skills to keep up with traffic and avoid being hit by motor vehicles. Road surface conditions are also poor and there is a good chance of injury from potholes and other deformations in the pavement. At night, poor lighting conditions increase the danger from all causes. However, successful cycling cities are those which promote biking for all ages and abilities and this is where Manila should be headed.”

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Q: What policies do you wish the government or businesses enforced for the safety of bikers?

A: “The government has a responsibility to provide safe streets for all users, especially vulnerable users such as bikers. Besides constructing bike lanes that provide physical protection from motor vehicle traffic, the government can improve safety of bikers by enforcing reasonable speed limits, providing adequate street lighting and sidewalks, and improving public transport stops and service. I mention the last part because erratic PUV driving poses a danger to bikers who often ride close to the curb. What is good for public transport and walking tends to also be good for biking, so the government should prioritize these forms of sustainable transport.”

Compared to motorists and pedestrians, there aren’t many #WorkersWhoBike yet. But by sharing their stories, perhaps another person would be encouraged to follow suit or would at least be a little kinder to those who do in order to help make our roads safer. (END) – WorkersOfPH.com

 

This story was produced under the Bloomberg Initiative Global Road Safety Media Fellowship implemented by the World Health Organization, the Department of Transportation in the Philippines and Vera Files.


 

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