November 3, 2023
#MoveTogether was organized by The Climate Reality Philippines in partnership with the City Government of Iloilo, the Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), and Iloilo Folding Bike Riders (iFOLD). It mobilized cycling and active mobility advocates from Luzon and Visayas to support the call for local and private sector leaders to prioritize the needs of the majority of Filipino households that do not own private cars.
A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that in every four household-owning bicycles, only one owns a car.
In her presentation during the workshop, Chiara Veronica Señires, the Online Community Administrator of Pinay Bike Commuter Community, highlighted the current car-centric mobility system in the country’s metropolitan areas, which compromises the commuting experience of Filipinos, including bicycle commuters.
Arielle Celine Tabinga, National Coordinator of the Mobility Awards, agreed that safety remains a paramount concern for cyclists, especially since cities in the country lack secured and adequate bicycle infrastructure.
Participants also shared the inconvenience of public commuting in the country citing immense traffic, expensive fare costs, disconnected transport systems, and air pollution as among the most pressing transportation and mobility issues.
“Despite these hazards and car-centric infrastructure, people still need to move around to go to places. And so, people continue to walk, use public transportation, and ride bicycles and e-scooters,” Señires said during her presentation.
Cesar Carlito Baclagon, Regional Finance Campaigner of 350.org in Asia, agreed that more people resort to active mobility like cycling and walking as a cost-effective mode of transportation that makes commuters less vulnerable to volatile fossil fuel prices and offers an agile and efficient way to maneuver through traffic.
Mobility Awards throughout the years have made efforts to provide empirical data for urban mobility planning and investment programming by counting bicycle commuters on the road.
Tabinga presented the results of Bilang Siklista 2023 during the #MoveTogether session. This year’s bicycle count reported a total of 147,800 cyclists across 17 cities.
“The bicycle count project aims to provide more evidence to support the urgent need to invest in better bicycle infrastructure throughout the country as more and more Filipinos are relying on bicycles,” Tabinga explained.
She added that the bicycle count had significant contributions in guiding the planning and implementation of national bicycle programs of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Moreover, the initiative encouraged further research to strengthen claims on inclusive mobility.
More than the social and economic benefits, active mobility also yields positive impacts on climate and the environment.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), transportation is responsible for 37% of global carbon emissions.
“Modernizing our transport system is more than just upgrading the type, engine, and fuel of vehicles. It’s about enhancing urban mobility conditions by providing safer, cleaner, cost-effective options to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions,” Baclagon said.
On the second day of #MoveTogether, participants were given the opportunity to experience cycling through the bicycle lanes along Iloilo City’s Esplanade and University Loop. The participants witnessed how these lanes were strategically established along universities, leisure parks, and other public areas to encourage bicycle commuting.
Señires encouraged participants to demand more of these people-centric road infrastructures from their respective local governments. Tabinga also emphasized the importance of active citizenship in this movement.