WITH THE RIGHT INFRAS: Iloilo City poised to be the ‘Heart of Biking’ in PHL

The Dutch delegation led by Ambassador Saskia Elisabeth De Lang and the Dutch Cycling Embassy present the results of the “Think Bike Workshop” to Mayor Jerry Treñas on October 9, 2019. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

WITH the right urban infrastructures dedicated to biking and the support and cooperation of the local government and the public, Iloilo City will be the biking haven in the Philippines, according to The Netherlands’ top envoy.

Dutch Ambassador Saskia Elisabeth De Lang said she sees this bright future for the biking community in Iloilo City during her visit to the metro on Monday.

“I like the space, it’s not as congested as Manila. It has a size that is very well manageable. I am pleased that the mayor sees the future and he knows that this will develop more economic growth and more investments. Thinking about the future and the zoning and land use planning in the City, I am pleased to hear that biking can be fitted in those future plans,” De Lang said in an interview after her dialogue with Mayor Jerry Treñas.

According to De Lang, there is already a growing tradition of biking in the city, citing the bikelanes that are already in place in some areas.

“There is already a tradition for biking. People bike here for recreational purposes. I saw that some of the roads that biking lanes have been established already and I heard of the annual biking festival,” she said.

She said that it is only a matter of making biking accessible to everybody in terms of infrastructures.

“It is already in the tradition, now it’s about making it accessible for everybody in terms of infrastructures. Biking should be safe, it should easy to take a bike when going to work, shopping, or biking along the river,” she said.

The government of Netherlands has partnered with the city government to strengthen its urban planning particularly in putting up infrastructure dedicated to cycling by bringing its Dutch Cycling Embassy,

The Dutch Cycling Embassy is a public-private partnership of the government of Netherlands and private consultants on urban planning and cycling in Asia.

The embassy organized a “Think Bike Workshop” with stakeholders from the tourism and planning offices of the local government, the transport sector, and cycling civic society organizations.

“We’ve brought in some technical people to look at the possibilities and exchange ways from all parts of the society, to sit around the map of Iloilo, to draw the lines where the biking lanes would ideally be developed and what would be the intersections,” she said.

During the presentation of the results of the workshop to Mayor Jerry Treñas on October 9, 2019, he signified his plan to integrate the results during the updating of the metro’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

“We are now on the process of updating our CLUP and we are very open to make it a part of our comprehensive plan, it is very timely. The bike lanes and biking will become part of our comprehensive land use plan so that whatever infrastructure needed to make it easier for bikers to go around the city, we will be able to include it in our plan,” he said.

Treñas said that biking, as a form of transportation, can help decongest the city and improve its mobility.

“We have a growing population on biking, most of them do it for recreation. Biking for transportation can be a tool to decongest the city,” he added.

Once included in the CLUP, De Lang said Iloilo City will become the first city to have specific guidelines for urban-related biking in the zoning ordinance.

“Iloilo City can be the first city that would have specific guidelines for urban related-biking in the zoning ordinance. Once the infrastructure would be in place, then people would use their bicycles more often,” she added.