Many extra Filipinos are biking

IN this column, I want to share the findings of a current nationwide survey carried out by the Social Climate Stations (SWS) and the workforce of Mike Entoma, SWS senior survey specialist. Performed from April 19 to 27, 2022 and involving 1,440 respondents, the survey coated bicycle utilization and possession, and the attitudes of Filipinos towards bicycles as transport.

Earlier than stepping into the main points, I want to commend the SWS for selecting a well timed and related topic. Bicycles have been largely invisible to transportation planners and authorities officers. Though many believed that biking was rising in recognition, there was hardly any information to measure the extent of bicycle possession and use. SWS surveys from 2020 have stuffed the big hole and supplied strong materials for coverage and planning.

What do the surveys inform us? In a nutshell, a really vital variety of Filipino households are utilizing bicycles — most personal their bikes whereas some use borrowed ones. Many of the households with bikes use them for important functions comparable to journeys to markets and groceries and for work or livelihood. The expansion within the use and possession of bicycles prior to now 12 months has been appreciable, indicating robust demand for this journey mode.

The survey discovered that 29 % of Filipino households (an estimated 7.3 million) had been utilizing bicycles — 23 % owned the bicycles whereas 6 % used borrowed bicycles. Bicycles had been getting used for important (21 %) and leisure functions (18 %). Nationwide, households that owned bicycles outnumbered the 6 % of these with automobiles by a ratio of 4:1.

The recognition of bicycles was much more pronounced within the Nationwide Capital Area (NCR), the place 32 % of households owned bicycles in comparison with the 6 % that owned automobiles — a ratio of 5:1. It’s noteworthy that bicycles are essentially the most generally owned automobile within the NCR (bikes, the second hottest automobile within the area, are owned by 25 % of households).

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The SWS was additionally in a position to analyze the expansion in bicycle possession and use primarily based on time-series information (evaluating the outcomes of surveys in Could 2021 and April 2022). Within the span of barely lower than one 12 months, the proportion of Filipino households that owned bicycles grew from 19 % (estimated 4.7 million) in Could 2021 to 23 % (5.8 million) in April 2022 — indicating about 1.1 million extra households — for a progress price of over 23 %.

This pattern is prone to proceed due to the elevated value of utilizing motor autos, increased public transport fares and the final insufficiency of public transport provide. Many households are tightening belts. A bicycle is low value transport with extra predictable journey occasions. With the resumption of face-to-face courses in many faculties, bicycles often is the solely out there or inexpensive possibility for a lot of households.

The survey additionally coated the attitudes of Filipino cyclists concerning biking as transport. It discovered that the overwhelming majority of Filipinos thought-about biking as a viable and mainstream mode of journey. Seventy-five % of the respondents agreed with the assertion, “Biking is simply as efficient as different forms of transportation in going to completely different locations,” refuting the view that biking will not be within the tradition of Filipinos or that the climate within the Philippines will not be suitable with biking. Equally, 80 % agreed with the assertion, “Extra folks will use bicycles as transportation if the roads will likely be safer for them.” The help for this assertion was strongest in NCR, with 87 % of respondents in settlement.

The survey numbers communicate volumes. A really giant section of the inhabitants is already biking. Many extra are prepared to take up biking and cycle extra continuously if roads are safer. This factors to the pressing want for secure infrastructure for cyclists. For many years, highway infrastructure has been designed and applied to serve automobiles, though solely a small and privileged minority profit. Roads right now ought to serve all customers — the SWS surveys present that cyclists deserve their justifiable share of highway area.

When extra Filipinos cycle, all Filipinos profit. Folks on bicycles don’t burn fossil fuels and are environment friendly customers of highway area. There will likely be much less congestion and air pollution on our roads if automobile customers swap to bicycles. There will likely be much less crowding and shorter queues on our restricted public transport if commuters resolve to make use of bicycles as a substitute. With secure, environment friendly, clear and low-cost journey, predictable journey occasions, and common bodily exercise, Filipinos on bicycles will likely be happier and more healthy.

To draw extra Filipinos to cycle, bike lanes ought to have ample width and full bodily separation of cyclists from motor autos (paint will not be sufficient). Alongside bike lanes, bushes could be planted to offer shade and shelter. Bike lanes ought to kind a community so that folks can journey repeatedly on a protected bike lane to completely different components of a metropolis or municipality.

The 2023 Nationwide Expenditure Program has simply been launched with a proposed allocation of P167.1 billion for the Division of Transportation and P718.4 billion for the Division of Public Works and Highways. In each funds proposals, there’s zero funding for biking infrastructure — clearly a giant mistake. The 2023 funds ought to assist to right the huge nationwide deficit in strolling and biking infrastructure. That is what the overwhelming majority of Filipinos need and wish.

Robert Y. Siy is a improvement economist, metropolis and regional planner, and public transport advocate. He could be reached at [email protected] or adopted on Twitter at @RobertRsiy.


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