Congress hikes budget for bicycle lanes to P1 billion

(Photo by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

In a bid to accelerate the development of protected bicycle lanes, Congress has raised to P1 billion the fresh funding for the Active Transport and Safe Pathways Program (ATSPP), Quezon City Rep. Marvin Rillo, vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said on Tuesday.

“In the 2024 General Appropriations Law, we bumped up to P1 billion the budget for bicycle lanes with durable physical separation from mixed traffic lanes,” Rillo, also a member of the House appropriations committee, said.

“The amount is double the P500 million that the Department of Budget and Management had requested when it first submitted the budget for congressional approval,” Rillo said.

“This is our way of reassuring Filipinos that cycling is a sustainable alternative mode of mobility,” Rillo said.

“We are absolutely determined to promote cycling and lessen harmful motor vehicle emissions in the interest of public health,” Rillo said.

The P1 billion in new funding for the ATSPP is lodged in the 2024 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The sum is on top of the P705 million and P2 billion earmarked for the program in 2023 and 2022, respectively, according to Rillo.

The ATSPP has so far put up 564 kilometers of bicycle lanes throughout Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao as of June 2023.

The DOTr projects the country’s bicycle lane network to reach 2,400 kilometers by 2028.

The ATSPP bankrolls the construction, maintenance, and improvement of protected bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways in metropolitan areas, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities.

It also funds the procurement of bicycle racks, the development of end-of-trip cycling and support facilities, and the upgrading of pop-up bicycle lanes into permanent ones.

Under the program, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure shall be protected and shall include shaded walkways and urban shade trees wherever feasible.

Pedestrian walkways and crossings shall, by default, be at-grade for the inclusion of persons with disability, senior citizens, pregnant women, children with strollers, tourists with luggage, and parents with children.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress initially provided P1.3 billion for the ATSPP under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act of 2020, or Republic Act No. 11494.