Imagine our parents, children, students, women, wheel-chair bound persons with disability (PWD), and the people of a city/municipality in general enjoying and safely using their sidewalks, walkways, and bicycle lanes in their neighborhood. Close your eyes and picture this – Students having fun walking or biking to schools or playgrounds, employees safely biking to work, people going to malls and markets in their bicycles, our senior citizens walking safely to parks, and persons in wheelchair greeting each other in an accessible and safe pedestrian space. As planners, what can we do to somehow come close to this ideal place?
The City Government of Santa Rosa formulated its Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP). The aims of the PBMP is to improve safety and accessibility of other road users by strategically providing quality walkway and bikeway network spaces and infrastructure for the people in the City.
The City of Santa Rosa hired an expert consultant to assist in the formulation of the PBMP. The Mayor created a Technical Working Groups (TWG) composed of members from the government, private sectors, and non-government organizations to work together in the formulation of the master plan. The objective of the city in formulating the plan is to check if the PBMP is technically feasible, acceptable and sustainable in Santa Rosa.
The strategies identified in the plan are the identification and establishment of dedicated or segregated lanes, hybrid or shared lanes, and facilitating short cuts or secondary networks.
The study revealed that the PBMP is feasible, acceptable and sustainable to the city. National government policies are also aligned with the PBMP aims and objectives.
The PBMP is aligned with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular (MC) 2020-100 (July 17, 2020) Guidelines for the Establishment of a Network of Cycling Lanes and Walking Paths to Support People’s Mobility and the Department of Public Works and Highways Department Order No. 88 series of 2020 (September 29, 2020) Prescribing Guidelines on the Design of Bicycle Facilities along national Roads.
The plan also supports the achievement of the eleven (11) of the seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as follows:
a. Goal No. 1: End Poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Biking and walking are affordable and simple modes of transport enabling access to education, jobs, markets, and community activities. Biking and walking for some are the only affordable technical means of transport for people and goods thus lowering the expenses of the household.
b. Goal No. 2: End hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Biking and walking, in particular for the poor, help ensure access to food supplies, increasing their nutrition options and ensuring the sustainable transportation of food products.
c. Goal No. 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.
Biking and walking generate healthy and non-air-polluting lifestyles.
d. Goal No. 5: Achieve Gender Equality and empower all women and girls.
Biking and walking encourage governments to provide safe spaces/access for women and girls to schools, markets, and jobs.
e. Goal No. 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Biking and walking improve the energy efficiency of transport systems as it uses renewable human power in the most efficient way to move people and goods.
f. Goal No. 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
Biking and walking will open up a culture which will provide a very high potential for biking tourism and other healthy leisure activities.
g. Goal No. 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Biking and walking enable people to switch from the use of individual motorized transport to a combination of active mobility (walking and biking) and public transport. Biking and walking will make it easier for the government to build resilient infrastructure and sustainable transport systems for economic development and human well-being, with focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
h. Goal No. 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Biking and walking are affordable, safe, non-polluting, healthy, and promote a sustainable economy. Biking promotes a sustainable transport system.
i. Goal No. 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Biking and walking offer people the opportunity to move around in a sustainable way. Some goods can be delivered using bicycles. Possible increase in biking tourism will create more options for people to choose sustainable tourism.
j. Goal No. 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Walking/biking facilities are strong symbols of decarbonizing transport and communities; it offers immediate climate action.
k. Goal No. 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Biking and walking advocacy may promote effective public, private and civil society partnerships.
As early as 2007, Mayor Arlene Arcillas together with the Rotary Club of Sta. Rosa and Toyota Autoparts Philippines, Inc. launched the “Road Safety Academy” which is the first in the Philippines. Its objective is to educate students, drivers, operators, homeowners, etc. on the importance of following traffic regulations through a series of traffic seminars/orientations. The PBMP is a document plan that promotes Road Safety of all road users.
The PBMP ensures that the responsible people of Santa Rosa have the infrastructure and policy support in terms of ensuring a safe and connected bicycle and pathway system in the City.
The identified strategies and initiatives in the Santa Rosa Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan addresses the Santa Rosa’s call to promulgate the use of bicycle and walking as an alternative forms of travel not only because of its health benefits, but also its effect on the environment such as environmental protection, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while connecting communities the natural way.
The City of Santa Rosa PBMP was approved and adopted by the City via Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution No. 0025 on March 2, 2020. Mayor Danilo Fernandez (2016-2019) continued the objective of Mayor Arlene Arcillas (2007 – 2016) on making sure that all road users in the city (including pedestrians and cyclists) can safely access important public spaces such as roads and streets. Mayor Arlene Arcillas (2019 – present) is again the Mayor of the City. Through the strong leadership of the Mayor, the policies of the National Government, the commitment of the city to the SDGs, and the programs, projects, and activities identified in the PBMP; it will only be a matter of time to appreciate Santa Rosa as a walkable and bicycle-friendly LGU.
Bikelanes and green pedestrian spaces are now being incorporated in road projects. Pilot areas are identified for establishment of bikelanes. I can see that more people are using their bicycles in their daily activities such as going to work or the market and leisurely during weekends and holidays. A culture of people using alternative and sustainable modes of transport such as biking and walking is inevitable to develop in the City of Santa Rosa. The City should continue to be aggressive in providing accessible and safe spaces to match the demand/need of our bikers and pedestrians.
How walkable / bicycle-friendly is your city/municipality?