|Jeepneys blocking the path of cyclists along the old National Highway in Muntinlupa|
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Why We will NEVER have a Successful Shared Bike Lane in Metro Manila
For as long as Jeepneys remain to be kings of the road, then we will never have a successful shared bike lane in the Philippines.
I realized this when I biked from Paranaque to Calamba last weekend. The road my friends and I used was a secondary national road. It had 2 lanes on both sides, an inner lane for faster vehicles and for passing, and an outer lane for slow cars AND other smaller vehicles like motorbikes and bicycles.
My friends and I stayed in the outer lane, as much as possible maintaining a single line, giving more than enough space for faster vehicles to overtake us. There shouldn't have been any problem.
But there was.
Every so often, a jeepney or a group of jeepneys, would swerve from the inner lane to the outer lane and STOP in front of us to drop-off or pick-up a passenger. No signal lights. No warning. No nothing. Just swerve into our path.
This happened to us several times, probably once every 200 meters--yes, that often. Literally slowing us down and even endangering our lives.
This is not to say that there are no designated bus/jeepney stops and "No Loading/Unloading" signs. There are. Plenty of them. But jeepney drivers consider them to be more advisory and optional than a rule to be followed. They do not follow these signs and insist on their right to stop wherever they want to.
Much has been said about jeepney drivers, and much has been done to try to discipline them--all to no avail.
For as long as jeepneys are kings of the road, that is consider themselves over and above the law, then any initiative, no matter how noble and well-intended, to designate a portion of our roads as a bike lane will be for nothing. The authorities can paint the entire bike lanes yellow or white if they want, but it will just be useless because jeepney drivers won't respect it. They'll just do what they usually do. Which is, without a care in the world, cut into the lane and stop just about anywhere.