MANILA--A cycling advocates' group on Tuesday defended putting up improvised bike lanes along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City after the Metropolitan Manila Development Agency (MMDA) threatened to file charges and impose fines on them.
In a statement released on Facebook, Bikers United Marshall denied allegations by MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago, who said the improvised lanes endangered lives.
"Contrary to the allegation that our actions pose a danger to people, our actions as volunteer marshalls actually protect people. The fact that volunteer marshalls are signaling bikers to remain in the rightmost lane and motorists to share the road creates a much safer road," the group said.
"Doing nothing is more fatal. The group has also distributed hundreds of free reflectorized vests to help ensure the safety of bikers."
The group said the colored plastic bottles they used to mark the bike lane are not barricades but are markers to help cyclists and traffic enforcement personnel.
"The colored plastic bottles are not barricades. They are used by the volunteer group as markers, while our members serve as volunteer traffic marshalls to augment the already overwhelmed traffic enforcement personnel. These plastic markers are colored very visibly and are only used during the 6-8am rush hour," the group said.
Bikers United Marshall added that it is not true that the MMDA removed the barriers.
"The members of the Bikers United Marshalls are responsible citizens and they pack up the equipment at 8 a.m. after their marshalling duties are over," the group said.
"Not a single one of the plastic bottle markers are left on the road. Also, the bottles we use are NOT ONE LITER bottles as stated by Asec Pialago. We use a minimum of 6-liter bottles filled with water to ensure they do not get displaced and to ensure they do not pose a danger to both motorists and bikers."
The group said that, despite the promise to provide bike lanes on major highways, the MMDA has yet to live up to it.
"MMDA keeps on promising bicycle infrastructure and to hear them say that it will take time before they take action to protect bikers is utterly disappointing. Bikers United Marshalls have demonstrated that simple acts of love and courage can be done immediately and without procrastination," they said.
The group said it is ready to face the consequences of its actions.
"We were mindful of the implications of our actions, but the costs are outweighed by the sheer number of lives at stake if we decided to do nothing. For bikers and frontliners to get hurt, it is sufficient that good people do nothing," they said.
"We believe we have done our bikers (mostly without protective gear) our humble service. If the MMDA sees otherwise, then we have to be ready for the consequences of the incompetence of our leaders."