The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) plans to cite Bikers United Marshalls (BUM) members for obstruction and fine them PhP1,000 each.
On the first day of general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila, the group’s members placed improvised cones, signs, and directed traffic along the southbound lane (headed to Quezon Memorial Circle) of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to block off a lane for cyclists commuting to work. The group took it upon themselves block off the rightmost lane of the main road to create a safe lane for cyclists. After the morning rush hour, they removed the improvised cones from the road. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with the MMDA.
“They cannot just put up bike lane protectors without notifying authorities, especially [those] made from plastic bottles,” MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said. “They are not enough to provide safety for our bikers from speeding vehicles. They are very dangerous, in fact.”
Pialago said the agency is coordinating with police for other possible charges that can be filed against the BUM for “putting lives of people in danger.” The spokesperson suggests that, for now, cyclists use the sidewalks.
(Photo from Bikers United Marshalls)
In a statement, BUM asserted that their actions helped the commuters.
“Contrary to the allegation that our actions pose a danger to people, our actions as volunteer marshals actually protect people. The fact that volunteer marshals are signaling bikers to remain in the rightmost lane and motorists to share the road creates a much safer road. Doing nothing is more fatal,” it said.
The group described its members as “well-meaning citizens who are taking decisive actions to protect the thousands of bicycle commuters on our roads.”
“We believe we have done our bikers (mostly without protective gear) our humble service. If the MMDA sees otherwise, then we have to be ready for the consequences of the incompetence of our leaders,” it added. “The costs are outweighed by the sheer number of lives at stake if we decided to do nothing.”
The group chided the agency for its slow progress toward creating safe bike lanes to augment the limited public transportation options.
“MMDA keeps on promising bicycle infrastructure and to hear them say that it will take time before they take action to protect bikers is utterly disappointing. [BUM] has demonstrated that simple acts of love and courage can be done immediately and without procrastination,” the group said.
The MMDA and other national government agencies have announced plans to create bike lanes on major roads in Metro Manila.
Do you believe the group is justified in creating these bike lanes? Did their lanes help or create more chaos?