Sports Eye

Bike lanes nationwide soon in PH?

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

FOR more than a decade now, some of our lawmakers and many cycling groups in the country are clamoring for the establishment of bicycle lanes nationwide. Yes, there are some bike lanes now in the cities of Marikina, Pasig, Quezon, and (maybe) soon in Tagaytay City, home of PhilCycling and Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Cavite’s Eighth District representative. But, it’s the former Comelec commissioner Atty. Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal (2009-2011) the only non-politician fellow who is hell-bent in pushing for the bike lanes through his friends in Congress.

The Ormoc City-born Larrazabal, now 41, whom I first met at Clark Field for the Terry Larrazabal Memorial Bike Festival (in honor to his father, a former mayor of Ormoc City) years ago, is an ardent biking enthusiast. I remember him saying before the start of the race: “Biking for me is first, and lawyering second.”.  That was met with big applause from the crowd. That’s how much he loves cycling and attributed that to his family being biking enthusiasts themselves. Seriously or not, he also said that he used to ride his bike going to the Comelec office in Intramuros during his government days from his home, except during rainy season.

I doff my hat to him. He’s one of a kind in the two-wheeled vehicle.

There are already many countries that already constructed bike lanes like the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and especially Holland (also known as Netherlands). In Holland, I learned that 40% of the nation’s inhabitants go by bike and only the affluent people ride their cars, trains, buses or by motorbikes in going to their offices or to vacations in the countryside. No wonder, the bike-friendly state Holland already produced two Tour de France winners like Jan Janssen in 1968 and Joop Zoetemelk in 1980. Zoetomelk is the oldest cyclist to win the 1985 World Road Race Cycling Championship at the age of 38 years held in Giavera del Montello, Italy.

I visited Taiwan thrice (and the last year was my most recent), and what impressed me greatly was their disciplined bikers. Like the motorcycles, there were also parking spaces for bikes and can be found in almost every corner, in every street in parallel yellow lanes. I also saw residential areas, offices, schools, malls and public parks have parking areas for bicycles. I believe it’s part of their laws and a requirement in their every building’s architectural plan.

In our country, they say that bicycle is a poor man’s vehicle, but Taiwan and Japan are slowly gaining respect and do not belittle the pedal-powered vehicle. To them, bicycling as a mean of their transportation helps them gain a longer life, less pollution, less traffic congestion, prevent gas consumption and road smoke. I agree.

The biggest obstacle to bicycling as a vital alternative mode of transport is simply inaction on the part of our legislators. It’s just perhaps a pipe dream for them. Yes, some Filipino well-to-do people do stationary bicycle exercises inside their homes obviously to avoid the heat of the sun.

So, the question is: Do you think the plan for bike lanes nationwide will eventually push through? Let’s wait and see.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. MATTHEW: 24: 7-8 S


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