Why Manila Is Not (Yet)
A Bike-Friendly City
By Wincy Aquino Ong
Sure, weekend bike clubs are sprouting here and there. Good to know too that bike trails in Timberland Heights, UP Diliman, and Filinvest City are fast becoming urban planning must-haves. And yes (at least for the last five years) more and more people are riding their bicycles to the office.
But sorry to rain on your bike-a-thons, good citizens of Manila. Our fair city still has a long way to go to become a bike-friendly city like say, Portland or Copenhagen.
Here are eight reasons why.
Owning a car is still a status symbol.
We can only blame those macho-men Titos, and those teleserye villain Titas. They still think that bikes are for poor people. For the tsinelas-wearing country mice.
You can hear them telling the young ‘uns, “Successful people buy cars. Those who don’t have college degrees ride bicycles.” Oy! Here’s to wishing that the Titos and Titas evolve with the times, but that’s wishful thinking given how stubborn they are.
Buying a car now is now easier than ever.
What’s happening? Banks are now courting every Juan and Juana to get that car loan at dirt- cheap down payments. Last I heard, you can get a brand-new-spanking car for as low as ten-thousand pesos.
So can we go all pedal-powered if everyone’s dreaming of that new SUV or starting their own Uber rackets? Dream on, folks.
Not too many bike racks.
Although there are cities like Makati and Marikina that are installing bike racks on public spaces, options are still scant on where to park your two-wheel ride. Sadly, parking in the city is still optimized for cars.
The monstrosity that is EDSA.
If the major artery that connects all 13 municipalities is one that is covered in soot and smoke, and is the stomping grounds of murderous bus drivers, chances are nobody wants to ride their bikes to get to and from work.
You’re better off in an barely moving air-conditioned box, where you’ll probably stay alive.