Quezon City – “Mobility becomes essential the moment we see how it enhances fundamental development goals such as inclusivity, democracy and gender,” said Pinay Bike Commuter founder Jaramia Amarnani. “And if we want to elevate the importance of women’s rights and the right to good health, while deepening democracy, we need to elevate the importance of mobility,” she added.  

Experts tackled the crucial intersections in a webinar today showing converging pathways in the campaign for safer interconnected networks for cyclists and pedestrians across the Philippines.

The final of four parts in the Moving Towards Mobility series organized by the Mobility Awards this year emphasized the urgency to develop and implement inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable mobility solutions that cater to the needs of commuters and vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities (PWDs), elderly, and children. 

Cresta Baraan-Anore, a deaf human rights advocate working at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights Center, focused on the public transport system in Metro Manila in terms of safety and accessibility to PWDs. “Cycling is helpful but can also be dangerous. Deaf people may find it easy to go around, but that is not the case for other PWDs,” she said. 

“We need protected, lighted, and more accessible bicycle lanes. We ask the government to do their part. If you make transport facilities more inclusive to PWDs, especially those using wheelchairs, everyone benefits. Let everyone make use of their rights,” she added.

Cycling advocate and Pinay Bike Commuter community member Julieta Ramos pointed to opportunities in improving public transport in ways more deliberately inclusive of the needs of the elderly. “We hope the government includes elders in development and mobility plans. Before implementing a project, we hope to have consultations with elders, PWDs, women, and other vulnerable groups to ensure that it caters to our needs,” she said.

The Mobility Awards is organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), The Climate Reality Project Philippines, MNL Moves, 350.org Pilipinas, and the Pinay Bike Commuter community with League of Cities Philippines and 27 regional partners to inspire action, involvement, and coordination among cities, workplaces, and commercial establishments aiming to improve conditions for urban mobility. Nominations are open to the public and this year’s awards focus on cities across the Philippines, excluding Metro Manila. 

Tomorrow, November 5, marks the last day of nominations for the Mobility Awards. To nominate a bicycle-friendly city, workplace, or commercial establishment, visit mobilityawards.ph or bit.ly/MAnomination. Winners will be announced on November 25, in observance of the Climate Change Consciousness Week.

Apart from development policy and infrastructure, the discussion tackled gender-based harassment and misconceptions experienced in cycling communities. Dr. Marivic Tan, an obstetrician-gynecologist based in Cebu City, cited health fallacies that have been preventing women from taking up cycling, saying it is harmful to reproductive health and that it leads to unnecessary changes in a woman’s body. 

“Cycling is in fact a very good opportunity to improve your health, especially cardiovascular health. It is also beneficial mentally and emotionally. Seeing more women cycling is a sign that the society is evolving,” she added.

Another factor inhibiting women to commute by cycling is misogyny in the streets, particularly catcalling and offensive remarks from men, according to Eloiza Regaliza, member of the Cadiz Road Bikers based in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. “Cycling empowers me to express myself more and conquer the limits posed by society to women. I hope this empowers fellow women cyclists as well,” she said.

LGBTQIA+ and urban poor rights activist Jawo Jayme emphasized how members of the community are experiencing gender-based harassment during cycling. “To bike as a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, we are breaking the stereotypes. We in the cycling community must work together and reach out to the government and private sector to ensure that road plans are people-centered. Inclusivity and diversity coincides with our economic development,” they said.

Recognizing the role of the youth in advancing active and inclusive mobility, Climate Reality Project Philippines youth cluster coordinator Beatrice Dolores discussed measures already underway and what can be done further to promote safer and more secure spaces for cyclists and pedestrians. 

“The youth are leaders and driving force of influence in our communities, we have the vigor that is needed in promoting active transport,” she added.

The private sector also has a responsibility to encourage employees and customers to take up active modes of mobility. “The end of trip destinations of cyclists are usually privately-owned. Businesses should provide bicycle-friendly facilities such as parking, showers and lockers, even incentives and lessons for their stakeholders,” said Sharlyn Dismas, sustainable transportation officer of Makati Business Club. 

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