Press Release
September 7, 2022

Sponsorship speech of Senator Pia Cayetano on the Walkable and Bikeable Communities Act

I rise today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1290 under Committee Report No. 2, otherwise known as the "Walkable and Bikeable Communities Act".


This takes into consideration Senate Bill No. 19 filed by this representation, and the bills filed by Sen. Poe, Sen. Estrada, and Sen. Ejercito-Estrada. There were also expressions of intent [from several senators] to be co-authors.

I was only able to find biking pictures of the two gentlemen [Senators Ejercito-Estrada and Dela Rosa]. Kung meron kayong biking pictures, padala niyo, ihabol natin diyan. But it's very interesting because the picture of Sen. JV is actually from an article that talks about how he bikes to work.

Also to put on record, the Majority Floor Leader, Senator Joel Villanueva has filed his own version of the Safe Pathways Act.

Dear colleagues, this bill is similar to the one I filed and sponsored last Congress which the Senate passed on third reading. That bill was a product of necessity at the height of the pandemic, brought about by the plight of health and essential workers who were stranded and had to walk long distances to get to their work or home. So these are articles that highlighted how difficult it was to get to work and how the bikes were coming out on the streets. Those who had bikes fared better than the others.

The original bill, as I mentioned that was passed in the last Senate, known as the Safe Pathways Network bill, sought to create a network of pop-up bicycle lanes and slow streets that could be used by our essential workers during the pandemic and to connect users to essential destinations.

All over the world, urban cycling networks surged after lockdowns were imposed. In New York, Berlin, Mexico City, to name a few, temporary bike lanes were set up to facilitate mobility. The same happened here. Brought about by the surge of bikers, more and more bike lanes were carved out of streets.

But even before the pandemic, I have long advocated for a shift to active and sustainable transportation. There are many benefits of cycling and walking.

To one's health, physically, walking and biking are excellent forms of exercise good for cardiovascular health.

Mentally, taking time out from work or studies, is a much needed breather from the rigors of daily life. And going for a walk or bike ride is one way towards better mental health.

The other benefit is community health, collectively, because the air is cleaner and there are less cars and motor vehicles on the road during the height of the lockdown. There were reports of cleaner air and clearer views all over the metropolis. And this was also seen in other countries.

Finally, the cost of a bike is much cheaper.

Although the world has somehow learned to live with Covid and many things have returned to normal, the use of bikes and other active modes of transport are here to stay.

This bill touches on the following sustainable development goals:

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 13 - Climate Action
SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals

Interesting facts, in the Philippines, based on an SWS survey, 1 out of 4 households nationwide owns a bicycle.

The number of households with bicycles in urban areas and NCR more than doubled since 2021, indicating the strong demand for active transport.

7.3 million households own a bicycle as of April 2022 compared to 6.2 million households in May 2021. This is based on a Rappler report.

80% of Filipinos believe that better roads would encourage more people to use a bike.

A number of cities in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country have their own network of bicycle lanes.

Outside of Metro Manila, Iloilo City has established its own bicycle lanes. I am not sure if I have the distance, but the distance of bicycle lanes in Iloilo is quite extensive. I will be sure that I have that to share with you during our period of interpellation.

In our own Taguig City, we have kilometers after kilometers of bike lanes and sidewalks along the Laguna Lake.

So let me tell you now about the bill. What is the Safe Pathways Network? It is a network of bicycle lanes, walkways and slow streets for active transport users. Electric personal mobility devices may also be allowed, but this would be subject to guidelines.

So I think it's easy to understand what bike lanes are, for the use of bikes. Walkways, for the use of pedestrians, including the use of strollers and other children's mobility equipment. Again, subject to guidelines.

And then the slow streets. This is a very interesting concept that I really love. Slow streets, your honors, Madame President, are quite common all over the world. Even in our own country. I normally notice this sa panahon ng may patay, kapag may lamay, di ba sinasara ang kalye to allow people to come and go tapos andoon ang... parang trapal na minsan may pangalan pa ng mayor o congressman na nagpahiram ng tolda.

So, I was just handed the information, sa Iloilo 11 kilometers ang [bike lanes] doon.

So, anyway yun ang concept ng slow streets, yung isasara ang kalye, it could be temporary or permanent, closed to motor vehicles, to allow people, particularly the vulnerable - the elderly, pregnant women, mothers, children, - to run around and to walk. As to whether this would be temporary, permanent, what are the guidelines, that would depend on the particular area, because of course, affected ang residents and any other tenants in that area.

So that is the entire network: the slow streets, the walkable paths, and the bike lanes.

Our intention is to institutionalize facilities, this will require that LGUs will coordinate with public and private institutions within their jurisdiction to ensure that these infrastructure can be built and also the facilities that make it easy, convenient for the active transport users to actually use them. This would be what we call the "end-of-trip" facilities. These could include bike tracks, showers, or changing rooms, and similar facilities. But what is also important are the bike lanes. If it is possible to make these permanent, then that would be the best scenario. But for many busy and urbanized cities that have been there, then temporary or pop-up bike lanes may be the most practical for the time being.

Next slide...this is a video from my trip to the global conference in Korea. [Describes video] You'll see on the right, the cars, bike lanes, then the walk path. So all three are there. It was amazing. And ordinarily, I would be very envious to see this in another city. But I am proud to say that in Taguig City, we have the same. I don't know if the picture was already shown, but in Taguig City, we also have by Laguna Lake, a road for the cars, a separate bike lane, and the walkway. I think Sen. Villar, when he was secretary, had the occasion of visiting and inaugurating that. And I think there was a picture of Sen. Villar on a bike as well. So we will put that on there before we end.

And I am coming to the end of this sponsorship speech, your honor. I would like to end by quoting the WHO Constitution: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

So when we subject our people to hours and hours on the road in traffic, unable to be reunited at the end of a long work day with their families, having to leave when it's still dark to work - I personally believe that that is not a complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. So until we are able to fix our transportation system, and one step in the right direction is active transport, then we will continue to deprive our people of the kind of health that they deserve to have.

I end with these photos of advocacy rides that I've had for more than 10 years all over the country. This is really to emphasize that there are this many bikers. We can take up the whole road. This takes a lot of planning, because it is not our intention to take up the whole road. But the intention is to show that if we plan better, more people would be able to use bikes, because one of the figures we also have is that it was revealed during our hearing that most of the destinations of people for work are within a kilometer or so, less than 5 km at most, such that they can walk or bike that distance. Five kilometers might be a little bit difficult to walk, but it may not be that comfortable with the kind of weather we have. But with active transportation, there will be less people using motorized vehicles.

Thank you, dear colleagues and Madame President. With your support, I pray that this can become a law soon.

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