A group of bikers on Tuesday denounced Metropolitan Manila Development Authority spokesperson Celine Pialago’s move to threaten to file charges against their members over their improvised “bike lane” in Quezon City.
Bicycles are among the modes of transportation that the Department of Transportation allowed in areas placed under the general community quarantine, which started on June 1.
Buses, trains, taxis and units of transport network vehicle services such as Grab were also given a go signal to ferry commuters at limited capacity. Jeeps and express vans, however, are still banned in Metro Manila.
With the limited mass transport options, some Filipinos took the risks to bike along major thoroughfares despite the lack of safe bike lanes or barricades.
On June 2, a group of Filipino bikers called Bikers United Marshalls installed an improvised bike lane made of plastic bottles and containers along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Based on reports, the colored plastic containers served as barricades along the highway to guide Filipino bikers and keep them safe from other vehicles.
However, the MMDA immediately ordered the improvised lane’s removal, citing safety reasons.
Pialago argued that the makeshift barricades pose danger.
“There is no bike lane yet, and we cannot just put barricades there, especially one-liter plastic containers. It is not safe for bikers because that is not enough to ensure their safety. It is very dangerous,” she said.
“MMDA has a plan for a safe bike lane, but it will take time for it to be constructed,” she added
Members of the Bikers United Marshalls will be given citation tickets for obstruction, Pialago said and will then be slapped with a P1,000 fine each.
She also said that MMDA is coordinating with the Philippine National Police to determine other possible charges to be filed against the group amid their voluntary work for the commuters.
“We are now coordinating with the Philippine National Police to know what possible charges can be filed against them. They are putting the lives of people in danger,” she said.
The group immediately aired their side and claimed that Pialago’s accusations are “far from the truth.”
In a statement shared on Facebook, Biker United Marshalls clarified that the plastic containers are not placed there to serve as barricades, rather, as markers for members of their volunteer marshals who aid traffic enforcers in the area.
Statement of Bikers United MarshallsBikers United Marshalls deplore the statements made by the MMDA Asst Secretary…
“These plastic markers are colored very visibly and are only used during the 6-8 am rush hour,” the post read.
They also bared that it was not the MMDA personnel who removed the markers.
“The members of the Bikers United Marshalls are responsible citizens and they pack up the equipment at 8:00AM after their marshalling duties are over. Not a single one of the plastic bottle markers are left on the road,” the post said.
“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 post added.
Moreover, the group also cited Quezon City ordinance SP-2636, s-2017, which they upheld:
“Road design and setting of speed limits must take into consideration the need to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicycle riders, and motorcycle riders.”
The group expressed disappointment over MMDA’s failure to validate the information they received before launching accusations against them.
“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,” they said.
Other Filipinos likewise denounced MMDA and Pialago for their decisions perceived to be unfair to the welfare of Filipino commuters.
“There is no bike lane yet, and we cannot just put barricades there, especially one liter plastic containers. It is not safe for bikers because that is not enough to ensure their safety,” said MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago.
Having nothing is safer? Where is the logic?
— Cycling Matters 🚴♀️ 🚴♂️ 🇵🇭 (@CyclingMatters_) June 2, 2020
GIRL, NAGVOLUNTEER NA SILA KASI WALA KAYONG GINAGAWA TAPOS GANYAN GAGAWIN NYO? pic.twitter.com/DiUCZy7efe
— em (@imanyuwel) June 2, 2020