Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto on Sunday said the government must tap the P82-billion road users’ tax for urban elevated walkways and bike paths.
He expressed disappointment that sidewalks and bike lanes have been “sidelined and waylaid” in the government’s infrastructure menu, adding that these “active mobility” facilities should be mainstreamed.
He said the motor vehicle registration fees, which had an unspent balance of P82.2 billion as of December 2021, could be a source of funding for pedestrian-centric pathways.
Through an amendment of the law creating the Motor Vehicle Users Charge, the administration of collections has been transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Recto said the DPWH should now include pedestrian and bike ways as “a pillar” of its activities.
“It is time to elevate wide pedestrian and bike lanes, whether ground-level or elevated, covered or not, to the league of major construction works,” he said.
He noted that at present, safe pathways for people biking or walking are being built by the Department of Transportation.
“But I think DPWH should get into the act because these projects fall under its mandate more than it does DOTR,” he said.
Putting up elevated walkways in pedestrian-dense areas could help decongest roads of cars and give people the option of walking to short distance destinations, Recto said.
Unfortunately, he said such facilities are not on the government’s spending radar.
“The policy bias is toward people who ride in cars, but not for people who walk or bike, when cost-wise catering to the latter uses fewer government resources,” he said.
“If we have skyways for cars, why not raise walkways for people? If we’re building a subway, then we can surely build a pedestrian walkway above ground. If we have the money for multi-lane highways over hundreds of kilometers, how much more for a one-lane walkway that
is 3-kilometers long?”