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Why the Bicycle Users Leave the Bike Lanes in Metro Manila and How Do We Treat Bike Lanes?

bikers bicycle commuters in Metro Manila


Biking is said to be part of the new normal now in Metro Manila. This was acknowledged by several local government units (LGUs), thus most of the roads in Metro Manila now has bike lanes. However, it seems Filipinos are still new on this newly installed bike lanes, unlike in several countries such as Japan and other western countries that already promotes bike commuting as part of daily transportation, long time before the COVID 19 pandemic.  


Wether you are using bike going to work, cycling enthusiast, or just a casual biker you will find it really challenging to use the bike lanes in Metron Manila.


According to Manila Bike Commuter, here are some of the reasons why bikers leave the bike lanes:


Below are some of the reasons why bikers have to leave the bike lanes in Metro Manila:


1. Waiting vehicles / cars along the bike lanes


Waiting vehicles / cars along the the bike lanes

Many of our bike lanes are plagued by motorists using them as waiting area. Most common are taxis and PUVs waiting for passengers. 


2. Vehicles using bike lanes as parking area


Vehicles using bike lanes as parking area

This is the most common problem in the Metro - vehicles / cars turning the entire bike lane into a parking lot! Not only bike lanes, street parking is also really frustrating - as if they own the streets.

taxi cars parked on bike lanes

Cars parked on bike lane
Cars illegally parked on bicycle lanes - Quezon City, Philippines

3. Bike lanes being used by by motorists


Bike lanes being used by by motorists

Share the Road! This is a common battle cry of bikers in the Metro. As if parking on bike lanes is not enough, motorists even use the bike lanes INTENDED for BICYCLE USERS!


Bus occupying the bike lane - at Kalayaan Avenue, QC
Bus occupying the bike lane - at Kalayaan Avenue, QC  

4. Sharp metal sheets along the bike lanes


Sharp metal sheets along the bike lanes

Many of the bike lanes are peppered with metal sheets - and some of them have sharp edges. These sheets are problematic for all types of bicycles, but even more so for those with thin wheels especially road bikes. Not to mention these sheets are very slippery when wet.


5. Uneven drainage covers and potholes


Uneven drainage covers and potholes in bike lanes

Drainage covers and potholes make the right most side of our streets uneven, and again problematic for bicycle users. Some drainage covers are even made of metal rails which is really problematic for road bikes with thin wheels.


6. Very rough patches


Bike lanes with very rough patches

Same obstacle with drainage covers and metal sheets. Not all bicycles are built for a trail ride!


7. Traffic barriers along the bike lanes 


Traffic barriers along the bike lanes

Bike commuters have developed the ability to phase through solid objects; I know I haven't so I have to avoid them.


8. Road repairs


Road repairs along bike lanes

Road repairs without proper safety measures in place, such as safety signages and barriers pose risks for bikers. Hence, bikers should be on constant look-out on this areas.


9. Bike lanes being used by pedestrians


Bike lanes being used by pedestrians

Some of our bike lanes are used by pedestrians because they are robbed of proper sidewalks due to road widening. Also, even if there are sidewalks, pedestrians still use bike lanes.


10. Bike lanes placed on sidewalks


Bike lanes placed on sidewalks

Some bicycle lanes are placed in the same path as pedestrians. Not a good combination because pedestrians are the most vulnerable, that's why most of our sidewalks are elevated. Some of these sidewalk-turned-bicycle lanes also don't have ramps.


11. Riddled with pillars and posts


bike lanes riddled with pillars and posts

Some bike lanes are too narrow and to make matters worst - it is along lamp posts, pillars or trees. 


Here is a classic example:

Bicycle lane blocked by a overpass post
Bicycle lane blocked by a overpass post


12. Some bicycle lanes are too narrow


Some bicycle lanes are too narrow

You can usually pass through narrow lanes such as these, but not all bicycles are the same. Some have wider handlebars and will not fit these types of bike lanes.

Note: I’m not suggesting to cut the trees though. We already have so few of them. Just so we’re clear.


13. To overtake another bike commuter


biker overtaking another bike commuter in bicycle lane

YES, bike commuters CAN overtake a slower bike commuter. Since most of our bike lanes are narrow, you'll have to go out of the bike lane to overtake.


14. Puddles along bike lanes


Puddles along bike lanes

Puddles have a similar problem with metal sheets; they are slippery and potholes will not be visible.


15. Turning Left


Biker Turning Left


Most of our bike lanes are placed on the rightmost lane with no path for bike commuters turning left. There are many ways for bicycle users to turn left depending on the situation (which I will not elaborate here), but whichever they choose they still have to leave the bike lane.

16. Cars and other vehicles use bike lanes for loading / unloading


Cars and other vehicles use bike lanes for loading / unloading

We also have a disorganized public transport system where anywhere is usually a loading / unloading zone.


17. Vehicles turning right


Vehicles turning right biker on bike lanes

Sometimes you have to leave the bike lane especially when you’re going straight and vehicles are turning right.


Here is some safety reminders when turning right

bike lane safety when a vehicle is turning right
Bicycle lane safety tips when a vehicle is turning right



18. Other bikers and motorcycles on a counterflow 


Other bikers and motorcycles on a counterflow

While some of our bike lanes are two-way, many are not; and they’re narrow so you’ll have to move when you see fellow bike commuters counterflow. Worse when you have motorists using the bike lane to counterflow.


Other possible reasons are debris like garbage or broken glass on the bikelane, pop up stalls or extended business areas like machine shops with signages "reserved for customers only". 


Improvements are still badly needed to make bike lanes safe for bicycle commuters. Biking community are making efforts to make these issues reach the proper authorities and LGUs. Hopefully, they will make the necessary improvements since there are many benefits in promoting bicycle commuting. 


Bike lanes are meant to protect vulnerable bicycle users, not cage them so they can no longer use other lanes. If bike lanes are not fulfilling their intended purpose of making safer pathways for bicycle users, then it's just natural that they will be avoided. 


Next time you see a bicycle user out of the bike lanes, please consider these reasons.



CYCLING IS HERE TO STAY


Cyclists and motorists should have a give-and-take relationship in sharing the road. Let us focus on transformative initiatives that take the country in the direction of sustainable and inclusive mobility, rather than sticking to the status quo and prioritizing the welfare of those who are already privileged.


How do we treat bike lanes?


bike lane poster

bike lanes are for bike poster

what do bike lanes look like poster


biker bike lane safety infographics

cars and bike lanes safety reminders infographic

Shared Road, Shared Progress!


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