Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Drilon: Lessen air pollution? Make roads friendlier for bikers, pedestrians

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today encouraged heads of local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to move towards making major roads and thoroughfares conducive to bikers and other pedestrians, saying that non-motorized forms of travel can help alleviate the country's air pollution woes.

The Senate leader expressed interest in promoting biking in the cities after he attended the 1st Iloilo Bike Festival promoted by the "Share the Road" movement in Iloilo City recently, where he was the main guest.

Drilon said that the government programs against air pollution in the country's metropolitan areas must "effectively strike against the main-contributing factor: motorized vehicles."

He cited a Department of Environment and Natural Resources report that stated 80% of pollution load is contributed by "mobile sources or vehicles," and stressed that public remedial measures must "primarily address and rectify this factor."

"The best way to promote modes of transport that do not rely on gasoline or diesel engines is to make our cities safer and more accessible and favorable to these environment-friendly forms of mobility," Drilon said.

"Our very roads must inspire and help commuters shift to biking and walking. Given the heavy traffic in the streets of our cities, there is a great potential for bicycles and walking to be the preferred mode of transportation for our countrymen on the go," he further added.

Drilon noted that such initiatives are not exactly unheard of in the country, as he pointed to several road projects in Iloilo which the senator had supported, where non-motorized travel has been integrated in the road systems.

He cited the road-widening project along the 10-km Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue in Iloilo, which features a six-lane highway, a pedestrian lane and a 5-m paved bike lane that will extend from the Jaro District in Iloilo City to the Iloilo International Airport.

Similarly, he shared how a 14-km circumferential road connecting Arevalo District in Iloilo City and the coastal road in Dumangas town in Iloilo, "has been designed to include a 2-meter painted bike lane throughout its entire span."

The said developments in Iloilo were completed with the initiative of Drilon.

The senator then expressed hope that similar efforts will be made throughout the entire country, and advised the DPWH and LGUs throughout the nation to study if such initiatives could be made in their localities.

"We need to explore more options and choose the best alternatives. These programs will not only help alleviate our environmental concerns, but they will also promote a healthier regimen for our people," he said.

The Senate chief lastly said that he is open to supporting legislation on such initiatives if "congressional backing would prove to be necessary to commence these ideas."

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