PEOPLE riding their bicycles to buy some essentials or to go to work is becoming a common sight on Cebu City streets.
As more of them resort to riding their bikes to get around in this time of no public transportation under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), it becomes important for local governments to come up with what is needed to encourage cycling and assure the safety of bikers.
The restrictions on public transportation make it a good time for local governments to experiment and put into place rules on cycling.
Call center workers, nurses and other persons allowed to go out despite stay-at-home orders can be seen riding their bicycles bearing with them packages from the grocery or pedaling in their office clothes or uniforms. Men and women, young and not-so-young, are on the streets using pedal power to keep moving. They ride mountain bikes, road bikes, foldable bikes, bikes from surplus shops, expensive bikes.
Before the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, only a few brave ones would join the rush of cars, jeepneys and motorcycles on the road. Biking aficionados gave up group rides within the city and moved their adventure to the roads to Busay or Balamban.
With biking as a popular alternative during this ECQ and post-lockdown, the government should take the opportunity to establish biking infrastructure such as lanes and designated parking areas, rules and requirements. Bike stores and repair shops should also be allowed to open to meet bikers’ needs.
Under an ECQ, local governments allow bicycles on the streets as long as only one person is on it.
In France, its government has set aside funds to create a cycling culture, grant subsidy for bike repairs and training and set up parking spaces. It wants to promote pedal power after the lockdown measures are eased and to keep pollution levels down and people safe, a World Economic Reform report said on www.weforum.org.
The same website quoted a World Health Organization (WHO) information that urged people to consider riding bicycles or walking, whenever feasible, because it provides physical distancing while helping meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity. The WHO promoted cycling and walking as forms of post-lockdown public transport and to minimize pollution.
In areas that have relaxed their quarantine rules, bicycle stores saw an increase in sales on the first few days of the modified ECQ or MECQ and the less restrictive general community quarantine.
With riding bicycles becoming an essential part of life post-lockdown, the government has to come up with what is needed to recognize the role cycling plays in these days and to ensure the safety of bikers on city streets.
There should be rules on the use of bike lanes, the requirements of wearing a helmet, having a bell or horn and turning on lights at the front and back when it gets dark.
This is one good change the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing on the community.