Over 600 volunteers around the country recorded a total of 191,578 cyclists in major roads of ten cities in the Philippines, providing urgency and basis for national agencies and local governments to accelerate establishment of safer, more inclusive infrastructure and policies promoting active transport.
“The citizen count was our response and contribution to the continuing challenge over the lack of bike traffic data. Investments in active transport infrastructure is best justified when anchored on regularly collected and analyzed data. We likewise need to ensure we use data generated to tell stories, set ridership and bike network infrastructure goals, monitor outcomes and build support for continuous improvements,” said Aldrin Pelicano, MNL Moves founder and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) inclusive mobility advisor, in a webinar yesterday.
Pelicano said “the 191,578 bike traffic volume is still a significant undercount. We need permanent count programs that use appropriate technologies to ensure we capture up to date data focused on the growing population of cyclists and active transport users in the country.”
According to the bike count findings, 191,578 cyclists on the road roughly translate to daily fuel cost savings ranging from PHP 147,360.57 to PHP 307,329.53 per kilometer, which are compelling figures given the continuing rise in fuel prices in the Philippines.
The report also found a huge gap between the number of male and female cyclists, with females accounting for only 3.83 percent of the total. The number of helmet users (51.43 percent) and non-helmet users (48.57 percent), on the other hand, are almost equal.
The webinar titled “Bilang ang Kasama sa Bilang: Results of the 2022 Citizen’s Bike Count” launched the findings of this year’s bike count of the Mobility Awards. In celebration of World Cities Day this October 31, the discussion highlighted the efforts of volunteers and mobility advocates from the cities of Quezon, Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, Naga, and Baguio in Luzon; Iloilo, Cebu, and Mandaue in Visayas; and Davao in Mindanao in doing their part to make cyclists and pedestrians visible through concrete data.
This year’s count is the second round done by the Mobility Awards, which was conducted in 99 different locations across ten cities during peak hours in the morning (5AM-7AM in Metro Manila, 6AM-8AM for the remaining cities) and in the afternoon (4PM-7PM). It was piloted in Metro Manila last 2021, where 168 volunteers recorded 38,932 people on bicycles, 1,658 personal mobility device users, and 12,787 pedestrians in Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, and Quezon City.
“Ang masaya dito sa ginawa namin (What was great in doing this) bike count is that it empowers people, and it ensures that people are accounted for. This bike count has provided the conclusion that there is power in people to exercise their right to quality travel. What kind of quality? Makatao, ligtas, at para sa lahat (Pro-people, safe, and inclusive),” said Metro Naga Active Transport Community organizer Ramon Dominic Nobleza.
“Apart from local governments, many stakeholders can use the bike count data in improving their policies and programs, including the business sector and the academe. Bicol has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, and in turn, laborers and construction workers cycle to save money. These are the stories that we see through numbers,” Nobleza added.
Nicole Trisha Panganiban, Gender and Development (GAD) specialist of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) cited how the Commission’s Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Plan and the respective GAD plans of local governments can help address mobility issues experienced by women and girls.
“Making roads safe for women will make it safe for all. No bike helmet use law will protect you unless they first fix the many problems in our transport infrastructure,” said Early Sol Gadong of Iloilo Bike Education for Road Safety.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced in the webinar that part of their 2023 budget is allocated for the procurement and installation of automated traffic count instruments in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, with the aim to gather hourly, daily, and monthly statistical data on the use of bike lanes. The department also targets to count people in personal utility devices and pedestrians, apart from cyclists.
“In DOTr, we always welcome and very much appreciate this bike counting initiative, especially focusing on sustainable modes of transport, which is very long overdue in the Philippines. The findings serve as an undebatable evidence for lawmakers and government officials on the urgent need to prioritize active transport projects and policies,” said Eldon Joshua Dionisio, project manager of the DOTr Active Transport Program Management Office. (PR/CNT)
Photo by Dianazoned