'Not enough space': Villar questions Cayetano's bike lane bill

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2020 10:51 PM

Members of the PNP Highway Patrol Group assist cyclists after clearing out and penalizing vehicles obstructing bike lanes in Quezon City on June 23, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Sen. Cynthia Villar on Monday questioned the feasibility of Sen. Pia Cayetano's proposal to put up "pop-up bike lanes" during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, saying some roads may not be wide enough to have a separate lane for bicycles.

Under Cayetano's Senate Bill No. 1582, the government will be mandated to create temporary lanes for bicycles and other "non-motorized vehicles" to help frontliners and other workers come to and from work while public transportation is disallowed.

"Most of our roads are 2 lanes and there is no room for additional lane... how do we intend to build this in this kind of situation?" Villar asked Cayetano in plenary.

"We have to face reality that our roads are not perfect. We don't have enough space," said Villar, whose son Mark heads the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The solution is to "redefine the flow of traffic" by imposing a one-way scheme in narrow streets, Cayetano said.

Another option would be to replicate a practice in California wherein warning signs are mounted in areas where bike lanes merge with regular lanes for 4-wheeled vehicles, she said.

"There are ways to go about it and at some point there will be no exclusive lane [for bicycles] because it is just impossible," said Cayetano, a triathlete and biking enthusiast.

Villar told the senator from Taguig that her bill must be "very specific" to ensure that it would be implemented.

"If you are not specific, nothing will be implemented... You will discover that the implementing rules and regulations is not anymore in the spirit of the bill," said Villar, referring to the set of policies that operationalizes a law.

"If you make it so vague and you don't require them to do anything, then there's no implementation. That's the problem," she said.

Cayetano thanked Villar for her recommendations and told the Las Piñas lawmaker that she would "revisit" the wording of the bill to "find a way to give alternative scenarios" that would "require" agencies to implement the policy.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also asked Cayetano to define which vehicles can make use of the proposed bike lanes, noting that motorcycles - which also traverse lanes used by 4-wheeled transportation - might squeeze into the segments meant for non-motorized vehicles.

Cayetano has been pushing to integrate bicycles into the public transport system.

"It is time to change our mindset about traffic and find alternative means to move forward from this perennial problem," Cayetano said in a statement.

In 2018, Cayetano rode a bicycle from the Rizal Monument to the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, Manila when she filed her certificate of candidacy to make a statement about her sustainable transportation advocacy.