By Doris C. Bongcac
8:19 am | Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Bike enthusiasts with the Cebu City Council after a public hearing on the bicycle lanes ordinance have their photos taken for a souvenir shot. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)
Heads of transport agencies support the passage of an ordinance that allows “shared bike lanes” in some Cebu City streets but said these should follow the existing road network.
In yesterday’s public hearing, Fernando Cruz, head of the Cebu City District Engineering District said only roads that are 11 to 12 meters wide are suited for bike lanes.
These include S. Osmeña Road, Gorordo Avenue up to a portion of the Transcentral Highway near Marco Polo Plaza, Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Governor Cuenco Avenue up to Canduman Road in Talamban and Osmeña Boulevard.
Having bike lanes on narrow roads would make them accident-prone, Cruz told the City Council.
He said funds should be allotted for road markings if the bike lanes ordinance authored by Councilor Nida Cabrera is approved.
Show of support
Bike enthusiasts gathered at the City Council session hall to show support for the ordinance.
“We seek to be recognized as legitimate road users,” said hotel owner Joel Lee, an environment advocate and bike enthusiast.
Bike advocates took turns sharing their stories of how biking has improved their health and family relationships.
Dr. Henry Dimaano, an orthopedic surgeon, said biking remains the fastest, most efficient, cheapest and most environment friendly mode of transportation.
Jay Garganera, an entrepreneur, said he has never been hospitalized in the last six years after he started biking.
Part of culture
Chamy Comillas, a 35-year-old call center agent, said he wasn’t affected by last week’s transport strike because he bikes daily from his home to his office at the Cebu City IT Park.
Clinton Gairanod, an Emergency Room nurse at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, said he would bike with his wife, Joyce and their 7-year-old daughter Jordaine for exercise and quality family time.
Ryan Noval, a bike advocate, lamented that cyclists are looked down on compared to motorists who drive cars.
He recounted how a civilian security staffer barred him and other cyclists from gathering near the flagpole at Plaza Sugbu.
“Cyclists are people too. It is part of our culture that if you don’t have a car, you are less educated. Most of the cars are paid through bank loans anyway,” he said.
Right of way
Rafael Yap, Cebu City Integrated Traffic Operations Management (Citom) chief and Nigel Paul Villarete, Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) general manager, also voiced support for the bike lane ordinance.
But they also cited the need to ensure the safety of both cyclists and other road users.
“We have to look at the entire thing with respect to the transport network,” Villarete said.
In Manila, Cruz said, most bike lanes are placed on road shoulders.
He said this cannot be done in Cebu City because of road right-of-way issues. But Villarete said this doesn’t have to be the case.
“Bike lanes don’t necessarily have to be on the roads,” Villarete said, citing the experience of Singapore where bike lanes are placed separately from the roads.
Villarete, who represents the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) regional management council, said use of non-motorized transportation is included in DOTC’s list of sustainable modes of transportation.
Cabrera’s draft ordinance seeks to establish 1.5-meter-wide shared bike lanes on city streets and to designate bike racks in parking areas for bikers.
Businesses that refuse the establishment of bike racks may be penalized with non-renewal of their business permits while fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 would be imposed on nonbusiness establishments.
Fines ranging from P500 to P1,500 also await bikers caught violating the ordinance.
Cabrera said Citom would be tasked to enforce her shared bike lanes ordinance.
But Yap said consultations with all road users and an information campaign for drivers should be undertaken before Cabrera’s ordinance is implemented.
“The social issues are more serious. It is not as easy as putting up bike lanes but convincing people to respect the bike lanes. We need to do it right the first time,” he said.