The proposed Bicycle Law should include incentives like tax perks, extra-pay credits, or food vouchers for the people who use bicycles in their daily commute to their workplaces, a legislator said Sunday.
Rep. Ronnie Ong says the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing many people to use bicycles to move around, has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the government to solve two of the country’s biggest problems: pollution and traffic.
He says by providing incentives to those using bikes, the government may be able to persuade people to continue using bicycles in their daily commute even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The Caloocan City government, meanwhile, has started putting up bicycle lanes on its major roads following the transportation lockdown as a result of the pandemic.
“We got orders from Mayor Oscar Malapitan to focus on setting up bike lanes on the major thoroughfares in order to protect the people, especially its residents who are now depending on bicycles for their mobility,” traffic management chief Jay Bernardo said.
Ong, vice chairman of the House committee on rural development, says the proposed food vouchers as incentives for bicycle riders is apart from the provision of protected bicycle lanes for cyclists under the proposed Bicycle Law.
On June 11, Ong launched a #LibrengBisikleta program as reported on his official Facebook page. He has now turned over more than a dozen bicycles to security guards, utility workers, and manual laborers who used to walk to work because of the lack of jeeps and buses.
Many of them come to Ortigas and Makati to work all the way from Antipolo, Katipunan or Manila. Previously, they said, they either had to walk for hours or to borrow a bike from a neighbor or relative to go to work.
Ong says more Filipinos will definitely prefer a bike instead of using public transport if the government could provide them the infrastructure to do it.
He says creating a cycling culture in the Philippines can provide a long-term solution to the traffic gridlock in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas, which costs the government P3.5 billion in economic losses a day. It will also help reduce pollution.