It’s a common sight for cyclists in Metro Manila: the infamous police car parked in the bicycle lane. It’s expected at this point, and if you don’t see one blocking the bike lane you’re using, then consider it your lucky day.
It’s not limited to one city or even to the Men in Blue. If you go around the megalopolis regularly (especially on a bicycle), you will notice marked vehicles either passing through or obstructing bike lanes. This is a dangerous precedent, because not only are they acting like they are above the ordinances and laws prohibiting motor vehicles on these exclusive paths, but the “sanctity” of these lanes is now broken.
DPWH and LGUs have spent millions of pesos for our spanking new bicycle-lane network (which is already in dire need of upgrades such as physical separators, but I digress). These were made not primarily for the cyclists who have learned how to deal with motor-vehicle traffic for years, but rather to encourage those who would consider cycling but are unsure about sharing the road with larger, more dangerous vehicles.
If our officials keep misusing the very lanes that we expect to be saving lives both immediately and as a result of the change we want to see in the city, who exactly are they serving and protecting then?
If we let cars, motorcycles and government vehicles keep occupying these lanes, it undermines the very reason we put up these lanes in the first place. We’re not only wasting the millions of pesos that we have invested, but we’re also throwing away the billions of pesos that we might have gained as a result of the push for active mobility either socially or even economically.
I am aware that, in emergency situations, this all flies out the window as we place a special priority on human life, and there is no arguing with that. But if our officials keep misusing the very lanes that we expect to be saving lives both immediately and as a result of the change we want to see in the city, who exactly are they prioritizing then?
For the sake of the money and the lives at stake, stop blocking bicycle lanes. If you have to stop by the side of the road, stop beside the bike lane instead.