Defensor worried about spike in bike crashes: ‘We have to restructure, redesign our streets’

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Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor lamented on Sunday the increasing number of bicycle road crashes in the country owing to the lack of safe mobility infrastructures.

Defensor said in Metro Manila alone, the number of bicycle road crashes increased by 48% in 2020.

Based on the data from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), there were 2,606 cases in 2020, from 1,759 cases in 2019.

“The rate of increase in accidents this year is bound to be even higher, considering that more people are choosing to go to work in bicycles,” Defensor said.

He also noted that the MMDA statistics could be understated since it only covers crashes that get reported and documented.

Public transportation avoidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring fuel prices have brought about a dramatic growth in bicycles on the road.

“We have to restructure and redesign our streets to accommodate the influx of bicycles,” Defensor said. “Right now, bicycle riders have very little leeway to safely navigate through motor vehicle traffic in our heavily congested roads, thus causing many accidents.”

Defensor earlier filed the proposed Bike-Friendly Communities Act (House Bill 10396), which seeks to build up the country’s cycling infrastructure.

Under the bill, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) would be required to develop the country’s bicycle lane network, to include sidewalk upgrades, crossing improvements, parking racks, off-street shelters, service centers, as well as specialized traffic signs and signals.

Meanwhile, in Quezon City, where Defensor is running for mayor, his team has vowed to use new spending for bicycle lanes to create jobs for workers displaced by the pandemic.

Defensor’s tandem with vice mayoralty candidate and Councilor Winnie Castelo earlier proposed a P9 billion infrastructure program to stimulate Quezon City’s economy and provide new employment to residents.

“We will use a portion of the spending to expand and improve the city’s bicycle lane network,” said Castelo, a former three-term Quezon City representative.