To our dear mayors of Cainta and Pasig cities,
I am writing this as someone who resides and works in your respective local government units (LGU). All of us have been quite aware of the effects of COVID-19 in our cities for the past several months. Now that we are starting to plan for the “New Normal” in our places of residence and work, the bike has taken centerstage in terms of its importance and usefulness.
The upcoming General Community Quarantine (GCQ) transport policies will require public transport to operate on a maximum of 50%-capacity. This means that buses, vans, and jeepneys will need to strictly enforce social / physical distancing in their interiors. It will be apparent soon enough that our already-difficult situation of commuting along Ortigas Avenue Extension will get even more difficult. Maybe not just yet for most commuters as everyone is kept at home due to the strict lockdown.. But it will surely be apparent once we start the first working day under GCQ.
Noteworthy from this weekend is the efforts of the Pasig LGU to setup “pop-up bike lanes” near the areas of Pasig City Hall and Marketplace as well as Amang Rodriguez Avenue leading to Marcos Highway in Marikina:
It is surely a great addition to the already existing bike lane infrastructure that we are regularly using along Julia Vargas Avenue and other places! Expanding these bike lanes is definitely a great way to help manage the post-ECQ commute scenario for frontliners and regular commuters alike. Co-advocates in bike commuting will agree that these solutions will also help those who are new to the idea of biking to work.
Cainta x Pasig: Bike Lane Collaboration
May I respectfully suggest to do some sort of a “collaboration” between your two LGUs to further improve on this bike lane initiative? The idea and policy are already there, why not “extend” it further especially that Cainta and Pasig are adjacent to each other? Extending these bike lane facilities will help residents across the borders to pedal to their workplaces in a safe and “chill” manner.
It may be a bit unfortunate that there’s barely any alternate routes parallel to Ortigas Avenue Extension to alleviate the traffic. The “alternatives” via subdivisions (Cainta Greenland and Midtown Villages) may be one, but are subject to restricted entry. There is one option though that you might want to explore: The old “Manila Railroad” route.
Tramo – Parola Streets: Old railroad trail
The Tramo and Parola Streets connect Pasig City to Cainta, Rizal. This old trail used to be where the Manila Railroad (MRR, precursor of PNR)’s Antipolo- and Taytay-bound trains passed through in the early 1900s. Now, they are small and disjointed streets used by nearby residents and schools. It is mostly straight until the trail leads to a fork near the Taytay boundary, where it branches into the Antipolo and Taytay terminals. No wonder, part of the road is called tramo (tram).
Sometimes, to escape the toxicity of commuting via Ortigas Avenue, I bike commute using this route, just to have a “different” route for the day.
Now imagine if only we can improve this road for pedestrians and bike commuters alike. Maybe some (or all) of the following?
- Improve accessibility by removing the gated staircase at the Buli Creek-Tramo-Parola Street junction;
- Brighten up the lighting of the Cainta (Parola Street) and Pasig (Tramo Street) sides;
- Improve the road quality, which isn’t really in a comfortable state;
- Additional road markings especially for bike commuters and pedestrians; and,
- Nighttime security.
Whatever volume we can get off the “usual” public transport mode and get into bike commuting will be helpful to those who are unable to find alternatives to travel. At the same time, improving this narrow but valuable corridor also opens doors (or roads) to those who are already open-minded enough to consider bike commuting as the next best thing.
I fervently hope that this suggestion through a “collaboration” wouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Your own activities and actions during this pandemic are quite commendable. How I hope you can influence each other for the betterment of both cities during COVID-19. The most apparent of which is expanding our bike lane network. Hopefully soon!
Bike commuter and advocate