It is said that in pre-Covid times, more often than not, cyclists on the road are there for leisure, exercise, or sport.
That has changed in the Covid-19 pandemic. More people are now cycling to work. Along with this growing trend, there are also more e-scooters or motorized kick-scooters being used by workers heading to workplaces.
During the first few weeks of quarantine, many discovered the bicycle. Perhaps the better word is rediscovered the bicycle as a mode of transport and not only for leisure or sport.
And transport authorities seem to have also rediscovered—perhaps discovered is more apt—that maybe bike lanes are a good idea to keep cyclists safe as more vehicles return to streets as quarantine restrictions ease.
The pandemic has also seen authorities become more receptive to calls for providing infrastructure to protect cyclists and encourage more people to use bikes for commuting and for doing chores.
In Metro Manila and other large urban areas, local government units and the national government have been designating lanes for cyclists and those on motorized scooters.
It started out merely as drawn lines and signs. Soon some were protected by bollards or more permanent fixtures.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) reports 296 kms of bike lanes have been established complete with pavement markings, installed bollards, curbs, and solar studs.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade added that the bike lane project will see 535 kms of bike lanes in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.
This is part of coordinated efforts among the DOTr, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Health (DOH), and cycling advocates.
Authorities say that aside from mitigating environmental pollution, the use of active transport such as cycling is encouraged by health authorities as an effective way to social distance and promote mental and physical wellness, especially this time of the pandemic.
More cyclists on the road have created concerns and questions about safety and order. Motorists complain that cyclists ignore traffic regulations. Cyclists complain that motorists—some deliberately—make it dangerous for them on the road.
Cyclists also complain that motorcycle riders use lanes supposedly exclusive to the non-motorized two wheelers and kick scooters.
A new initiative aims to help provide answers or solutions to these concerns. It comes in the form of the Active Transport (Bike) Manual, a passport-sized booklet, which aims to educate cyclists, motorists, pedestrians, and other road users with regard to safety, courtesy, and etiquette while using the country’s roads.
DOTr has partnered with SM Supermalls to publish and distribute the DOTr-SM Bike Manual, which highlights important safety guidelines and pointers for cyclists, including the use of safety gears, regular bicycle inspection and maintenance, the use of hand signals, identifying blind spots to avoid crashes, how to make safe right turns, and road/traffic protocols.
Cyclist groups should hope that SM Supermalls’ support for cycling signals the start of more big business and corporate initiatives to encourage more people to use cycling as a regular form of transport.
In a press statement, SM Supermalls president Steven Tan said: “Across all SM Supermalls, there are now more than 500 bike racks, and more than 80 repair stations nationwide, and now, thanks to our partnership with the DOTr, and the support of all other partners, we are here to launch the next phase of our project, which is the DOTr-SM Bike Manual.”
The DOH has expressed support for cycling but mainly as a means to provide safe transport during the pandemic.
Said Department of Health (DOH) Director Beverly Ho during the launch of the DOTr-SM Bike Manual: “Active transport will help us move more people across our cities and municipalities safely and promote economic recovery, by reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission through a well-ventilated and physically distanced means of travel for our frontliners and essential workers.”
However, the establishment of seemingly permanent bike lanes indicate that the DOTr, and national and local government agencies and units are looking at making cycling play a major role in private transport or mobility even after the pandemic.
‘Bye Jazz, Hello City’
Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) has said goodbye to its much-loved hatchback the Jazz, and may be hoping that bringing in the hatchback variant of the City will ease the heartbreak of Honda lovers.
Honda Cars Philippines has launched the all-new City Hatchback 1.5 RS CVT.
With the RS for Rally Sport tag, the City Hatchback comes with RS Design Kit from bumpers to spoilers and grille, two-tone Berlina Black aluminum alloy wheel, and LED everything.
The interior features suede and leather seats, black interior trim with red stitching and accents, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls, front and rear center armrests, sports pedals and multi-information display with red illumination.
Honda added an eight-inch touchscreen audio with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and WebLink connectivity, an A/C system with rotary knobs, digital display and illumination, as well as a push-start system with Smart Entry Keyless Entry System and Remote Engine Start.
It comes with a host of safety and driver-assist technologies including Multi-view Rear Camera with dynamic guidelines.
The hatchback City is powered by a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine that generates 121hp and 145Nm of torque and is mated to a CVT.
The Geely Auto Group has unveiled the KX11, also known as the Xingyue L, a heavyweight SUV that it says incorporates long-term accumulation of technology from its years of manufacturing SUVs and deep insight into user’s needs.
The KX11 signals the company’s entry into the Geely Auto 4.0 Era of Model Manufacturing in which it expects to lead the industry in safety, health, performance, and energy saving.
Geely added that with the KX11, it aims to lead in the development of intelligent SUVs in four major areas: automotive OTA, or over-the-air technology for upgrading vehicle software, 5G internet connection, intelligent digital cabin, and application of automatic driving technology.
Volkswagen Philippines continues to build anticipation for the arrival of the T-Cross subcompact SUV. The Ayala-backed Philippine distributor says the arrival of T-Cross will signal Volkswagen’s global “refresh” in the country.
Volkswagen is looking to replicate in the country the success of the T-Cross in the world market where it has sold around 300,000 units in 2020 despite the limitations presented by the pandemic.
Volkswagen Philippines indicates that its target market for the T-Cross “is the new generation of young, accomplished professionals continuously claiming new ground in an uber-competitive world.”