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The Philippines Wants Nation’s Bike Lanes on Digital Map App

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Recently, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has requested a search engine giant to include bike lane routes in the Philippines to the dashboard of its popular real-time navigation app to help cyclists on their daily commutes.

Transport Secretary Art Tugade detailed that the DOTr is coordinating with the company regarding the project. While the department is still waiting for the company’s approval, he feels confident that the tech giant will most likely pursue the department’s request as it is a supporter of active transport.

This will be a very good innovation for their digital map app service considering that many Filipinos now are riding bikes as their main mode of transportation which brings significant health and environmental benefits, especially amid the pandemic.”

– Art Tugade, Transport Secretary

Moreover, the government head disclosed his department has sought for the move to be the top priority considering the increasing number of Filipino cyclists. He is confident that such a move would win the tech company’s support.

To date, the DOTr has completed its 500-kilometre bike lane network in metropolitan cities across the Philippines. Broken down to lengths, the bike lane network includes:

  • Metro Manila’s 313.12 kilometer lane
  • Metro Cebu’s 129.47 km lane
  • Metro Davao’s 54.74 km.

The country has been lauded for its ability to bounce back during the pandemic. At its height, transport became a major issue for frontline workers as transportation was down with public utility vehicles being forced out of the road to contain the virus. Pedalling became an option for many of these health workers. The good news is the Philippine government rose to the challenge. Allocating funding, they were able to build nearly 500 kilometres of bike lanes on national roads in less than a year — a tremendous feat given the circumstances.

Within 9 months, the Philippines was able to achieve the feat. It was a multi-sectoral effort as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) coordinated with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and it went a long way in raising the profile of cycling as a reliable and sustainable form of transport. Importantly, it also empowered and inspired local governments and communities to add to the new network by building their own bike lanes.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through research conducted as part of its Bike-to-Work Project, the majority of workers supported having more bike lanes on paved roads, bike paths and more secure bike parking. Funded under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, bike lanes have pavement markings, physical separators, solar-powered road studs, thermoplastic paints, road signages and bike racks.

As the pandemic is expected to wind down, bike lanes can be used for the country’s growing cycling community. Statistics show a marked uptick in bicycle-related road accidents during the pandemic. Bike lanes are a first step to counter that. Putting bike lanes in a digital app help make all that a reality.

No doubt, digital transformation via digital apps have been driven by COVID-19 exigencies. It definitely is changing the landscape, the Philippines including. A clear indication of that is how the country has risen to the top as the “social media capital of the world”. Experts peg the country’s social media users at 89 million active ones — and growing.

Still, digital adoption is still a big mountain to climb for the country. But as the upcoming May 9 elections should show, the Philippine government is willing to partner with technology to achieve its goal. As reported on OpenGov Asia, Manila is partnering with the same firm that was asked to make bike lanes a part of its digital ecosystem to improve transparency in the national elections.


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