Welcome to Inquirer Mobility

By Mariejo S. Ramos

The cities of San Juan, Pasig, Caloocan, Makati, Man­daluy­ong, Manila, Marik­ina, Muntinlupa, Que­zon City and Taguig have been nom­i­nated for the first-ever Mo­bil­ity Awards, which seeks to rec­og­nize role mod­els in in­sti­tut­ing bike-friendly poli­cies in Metro Manila.

Also up for the same hon­ors are 10 work­places and 30 com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments that, just like the lo­cal govern­ments, en­cour­age bik­ing and thus al­lows their em­ploy­ees to cope with lim­ited modes of trans­porta­tion dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Through the Mo­bil­ity Awards, the In­sti­tute for Cli­mate and Sus­tain­able Cities (ICSC), MNL Moves, The Cli­mate Real­ity Project Philip­pines and 350 Pilip­inas seek to rec­og­nize the top three cities, work­places and com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments in the me­trop­o­lis that have “stepped up to the plate” in ad­dress­ing the needs of com­muters com­ing from 88 per­cent of house­holds that don’t have their own ve­hi­cles.

They are the ma­jor­ity that should be pri­or­i­tized in cities, ac­cord­ing to ur­ban plan­ner and MNL Moves founder Aldrin Pel­i­cano.

“Pro­mot­ing cy­cling is cer­tainly not the only solution, but pro­tect­ing the grow­ing num­ber of cy­clists and en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to bike is a real step in the right di­rec­tion,” Pel­i­cano said.

Chal­lenge to ‘lag­gards’

Aside from rec­og­niz­ing the most bike-friendly cities and busi­nesses in Metro Manila, the Mo­bil­ity Awards also wants to chal­lenge the “lag­gards” to re­spond to com­muters’ needs, said ICSC as­so­ci­ate for pro­gram de­vel­op­ment Maria Golda Hi­lario.

“Be­cause of the health re­stric­tions posed by the pan­demic, cy­cling and walk­ing are gain­ing na­tional promi­nence as safe, re­li­able, cost-ef­fec­tive and low car­bon trans­port strate­gies,” she said.

In June alone, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Manila De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity counted over 100,000 bik­ers pass­ing through the six ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions on Edsa, or an av­er­age of 4,000 cy­clists daily.

But be­cause the na­tional cap­i­tal is “still a long way from pro­vid­ing op­ti­mal con­di­tions” for peo­ple who walk or bike, Hi­lario said it is cru­cial to rec­og­nize the early ac­tions from lo­cal govern­ments and busi­nesses that re­sponded to the grow­ing num­ber of cy­clists and pedestrians amid the pan­demic.

“At the same time, this poses a chal­lenge to those who need to keep up—we call them lag­gards—and we want to chal­lenge them that they need to do the same and do more,” she added.

Call for nom­i­na­tions

The or­ga­niz­ers launched the Mo­bil­ity Awards dur­ing World Car Free Day on Sept. 22, when sev­eral groups went on a leisurely 10-15 kilo­me­ters-per-hour bike tour on Edsa, to pro­mote cy­cling.

For the first leg of the con­test, which will run un­til Oct. 22, the or­ga­niz­ers called for nom­i­na­tions among lo­cal govern­ments, em­ploy­ers and com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments that launched ini­tia­tives for cy­cling, via the web­site mo­bil­ityawards.ph. Win­ners will be awarded on Oct. 29. Nom­i­na­tions will be eval­u­ated and ranked ac­cord­ing to three cri­te­ria: in­fra­struc­ture, in­te­gra­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The first cri­te­ria will look at the pres­ence of phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture or end-of-trip fa­cil­i­ties ded­i­cated to bi­cy­cle users. Does the city, work­place or com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ment have bike racks or stor­age ar­eas, as well as wa­ter sta­tions, chang­ing rooms and show­ers for cy­clists?

The judges will also look at the proper use and main­te­nance of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties, the en­force­ment of bi­cy­cle-friendly pro­grams and poli­cies, and how th­ese pro­grams pro­mote safety and sup­port the well-be­ing of ac­tive mo­bil­ity com­muters.

LTO’S lim­i­ta­tion

Pro­mot­ing cy­cling and walk­ing, Hi­lario said, can reap re­wards for lo­cal govern­ments in terms of health­ier ci­ti­zens and extra sav­ings for their mo­bil­ity pro­grams.

The lo­cal econ­omy may also ben­e­fit since “shops, cafes, phar­ma­cies, gro­ceries, sari-sari stores can at­tract more cus­tomers if they are bike or pedes­trian-friendly,” she added.

Ac­tive trans­port, or any mode of trans­port re­quir­ing man­ual or phys­i­cal power such as walk­ing and cy­cling, gained mo­men­tum as an al­ter­na­tive means of mo­bil­ity when the pan­demic hit the pub­lic trans­port sec­tor.

But even be­fore, Pel­i­cano noted that pro­gres­sive coun­tries like Sin­ga­pore had suc­cess­fully in­te­grated ac­tive trans­port in their ur­ban plan­ning.

Un­der Sin­ga­pore’s Land and Trans­port Au­thor­ity, the gov­ern­ment has its spe­cial unit on ac­tive trans­port work­ing on long stretches of pro­tected bike lanes.

“Com­pared to us here, we have the Land Trans­porta­tion Of­fice, which un­for­tu­nately lim­its it­self to cover only mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cles,” Pel­i­cano said.

In many ur­ban cities in the Philip­pines like Metro Manila, most roads have been de­signed, built and main­tained by the gov­ern­ment to cater to peo­ple who drive mo­tor ve­hi­cles, he added.

“Peo­ple who need to travel, who need to move from point A to point B don’t re­ally have many good op­tions,” Pel­i­cano said. “It de­prives the com­muters of dig­nity.”

Ini­tial nom­i­nees

As of Fri­day last week, there were al­ready about 50 nom­i­nees, in­clud­ing 10 lo­cal govern­ments—san Juan, Pasig, Caloocan, Makati, Man­daluy­ong, Manila, Marik­ina, Muntinlupa, Que­zon City and Taguig.

Among the 10 nom­i­nated work­places were Gofer, Chin­a­bank Sav­ings (Sen. Gil Puyat Branch, Makati), One Griffin­stone Build­ing, Ac­quire, Grund­fos I.S. Sup­port and Oper­a­tions Cen­tre, Sykes Shaw 500, Se­cu­rity Bank Corp. (Ayala Av­enue, Makati), Risque De­signs Marik­ina, The Med­i­cal City-or­ti­gas and S&P Global Philip­pines.

Thirty com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments were also in con­tention for the awards, namely 10 SM shop­ping malls (SM City North Edsa An­nex, SM Mega­mall, SM Mall of Asia, SM City Su­cat, The Podium Or­ti­gas, SM by the Bay, SM BF Parañaque, SM Aura Pre­mier, S Mai­son and SM Cubao);

Three Ayala malls (Ayala Malls Cir­cuit Makati, Ayala Up­town Mall in Taguig, and UP Town Cen­ter in Katipunan); and two Robin­sons malls: Robin­son’s Gal­le­ria Or­ti­gas and Fo­rum Robin­sons (Man­daluy­ong).

Five other malls were also listed: Gate­way Araneta City, Green­hills Or­ti­gas, Eton Cen­tris, Fish­er­mall in Que­zon Av­enue and Or­ti­gas East; and three De­cathlon branches in Ala­bang, Pasig and Tien­de­si­tas.

The rest of the nom­i­nees were Univer­sity of Santo To­mas, Boni­fa­cio Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter in Taguig City, 711 United Na­tions Av­enue, UCC Park Café in Ayala Av­enue in Makati, Mer­cury Drug­store Ma­lan­day, Pan de Amerikana Katipunan Ex­ten­sion, and Burger King in Fron­tera Verde.

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