QUEZON CITY, June 11, 2020 – On the eve of Independence Day, Antique Representative and Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda headed a multisectoral call for government to move people, not cars, as the mobility talks she co-organized with the Climate Change Commission  revolved around research that 88% of households in Metro Manila and the rest of the Greater Manila Area do not own cars, while the remaining 12% own at least one .
“What we want now is nothing less than the liberation of 88% of Metro Manila households who, because they do not have the fortune of owning cars, they remain imprisoned by the lack of inclusive sustainable mobility options. And as long as we in government prioritize the minority, which is only 12% of households who own cars, how can we call ourselves free?” Rep. Legarda said.
“Happy Independence from fossil fuels! Happy Independence from rigid, outdated thinking!” she added.
Legarda’s statement followed an announcement from Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) executive director Red Constantino that they and MNL Moves will launch a Liberate the 88 campaign in July, which would call on cyclists to nominate the most cycling-friendly local government units, business establishments, and workplaces.
Benjamin de la Peña, a global expert on urban development, transportation, and planning, who called for service contracting, or having the government pay jeepney and bus drivers and operators. He also stressed that biking and walking are primary and not alternative modes of transportation.
“If you believe that we are facing the climate crisis, you need to be for protected bike lanes,” he said. “We already had a transport crisis before COVID-19. For the last 60 years, we have been solving traffic, but traffic is not the solution, we need to address transportation.”
De la Peña also called as “outdated” and “car-based prioritization” the thinking that “transport planning must follow the hierarchy of roads”, which was espoused by the Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Sheila Napalang.
Undersecretary Frisco San Juan Jr. of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is discussing EDSA bike lanes with them, and that they are looking at the possibility of permanent bike lanes in EDSA and also in Mabuhay Lanes.
On the other hand, Anna Mae Lamentillo, chairperson of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Build, Build Build Committee, confirmed that DPWH Secretary Mark Villar is convening a technical working group towards the creation of an interconnected bike lane network across Metro Manila. She also announced that the BGC-Ortigas link bridge will have a bicycle lane which would be completed next year.
ICSC urban transitions analyst Celine Tabinga also presented the results of the pre-COVID active mobility survey  they conducted with MNL Moves and the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her report included a proposed Metro Manila bike lane network based on the survey.
“Active mobility (walking and cycling) can and should be made easier and safer in Metro Manila,” Tabinga said. “We have to enable cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; change mindsets, priorities, and policies to move people, not cars; and generate more data to support planning and policies.”
Netherlands Ambassador Saskia de Lang, who was the first panelist, offered to organize a bike workshop and bring in mobility experts, as her embassy has done so in the past through the Dutch Cycling Embassy. But, she added, “solutions should be developed in the country, in our cities, with the people on the ground, with stakeholders involved including public and private institutions.”
The Climate Reality Project-Philippines manager Nazrin Castro cited initiatives of LGUs and malls to set up bike lanes and parking spots to encourage biking, and suggested concrete steps such as extending bike loans to employees; installing showers, lockers, & dressing rooms for bikers; having coaching programs to accompany newbies from home to workplace; and incentivizing workers biking to work. She was followed by Climate Reality Leader Lenlenini Jamandores, who shared the efforts of AltMobility, UP PLANO, and EDSA Evolution to help local government units visualize how they can put up and sustain bike lanes.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
 “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways” is an online discussion organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from ICSC, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines, and Mother Earth Foundation. Today’s session is Part 2 of the sustainable urban mobility discussion. facebook.com/conglorenlegarda
 “Transportation Demand Characteristics Based on MUCEP Person Trip Survey,” Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) technical report, 2015
 #PHMobility: Active Mobility Survey in Metro Manila, 2020. icsc.ngo/active-mobility-survey/
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Photo by AC Dimatatac/ICSC