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On cycling fatalities and the way forward

December 2020
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I’ve read a few articles and social media posts about how its become more dangerous or risky for cyclists during the pandemic. The statistics and observations show that there is an increase in the number of cyclists. I am not even considering here the recreational ones (and I have observed that there are a lot more of them). I focus rather on those who use bicycles to commute between their homes and workplaces; or those who cycle to market or do their groceries. The danger lies mainly from motorists who have little or no regard for cyclists and pedestrians; choosing to hog the roads for themselves. And there seem to be more of these motorists these days, too, as people owning cars have opted to use these instead of taking public transportation.

Here’s a recent article about safety in the US. Those stats and assessments can be replicated here given the availability of data on kilometers traveled and crashes that are usually employed for risk assessments.

Marquis, E. (December 22, 2020) “Cars have killed almost 700 cyclists in 2020,” Jalopnik.com, https://jalopnik.com/cars-have-killed-almost-700-bicyclists-in-2020-1845934793

The only solution for our case really is to put up protected bike lanes. Local standards or guidelines need to evolve and the people behind these should be of progressive thinking rather than relying on “what has been done” or “what they have been doing”. That attitude will only give us poorly planned and designed infrastructure for cycling and walking. The coming year offers some opportunities for active transportation as the DOTr and the DPWH (plus the MMDA in the case of Metro Manila, and perhaps the LGUs where applicable) are supposed to implement major projects intending to produce the bike lanes and walkways for Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao. The budget is in the billions of pesos so much is expected about these projects. Will they become models for other Philippine cities and municipalities to follow? Or will these be like going through the motions just to appease those calling for active transport facilities?


2 Comments

  1. Villarete Nigel Paul Calo says:

    It was Enrique Peñalosa who said, “We cannot continue to deceive ourselves thinking that to paint a little line on a road is a bike way. A bicycle way that is not safe for an 8-year old is not a bicycle way.”

    There are two schools of thought on bikeways, not often seen as diametrically opposite and incompatible: the ” protected bikelane school, and the road sharing school. i believe the long term goal should be protected bikelanes. road sharing is simply a start, especially that majority still don’t grasp the advantage of biking. In the long run, the national and local government’s goal should be protected bikelane networks, maybe in 30 years.

    • d0ctrine says:

      Don’t you think 30 years is too long? There are many opportunities now to build those protected bike lanes so we have the proofs of concept. But I haste to add that it shouldn’t be just build, build, build. Context and careful planning (not the reactive, ‘to appease’ approach) is necessary everywhere. We’ve got to learn from the experiences in Marikina, Iloilo, etc. rather than assume one size fits all.

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