The COVID-19 pandemic has evidently boosted the use of bikes to get around Metro Manila. Most apparent of this is on major thoroughfares like EDSA — prior to the community quarantine declarations, you’d be hard-pressed to see more than a handful of bike commuters plying this busy highway. Now, just give yourself a couple of minutes along it and you’ll probably need more than your hands and feet to count bikers going by! EDSA by bike is probably not sanest nor safest option, but it’s the most direct one when traversing cities in the metropolis. You can’t blame people for biking along it. Besides, are there really any direct alternatives north to south?
Protected Bike Lanes on EDSA
There has been talk about creating a network of bike lanes in Metro Manila for some time now. It has been all talk until the COVID-19 pandemic forced its way into everyday life and seems to make this more into a reality soon. It is unfortunate to say that we are finally having these protected bike lanes because of this ongoing pandemic. But here we are, needing protected bike lanes because that is the easiest way to practice safe distancing from others on the road due to insufficient transport options.
Recently, MNLmoves together with the MMDA Bike Lane Program Office sought to observe the various hazards and concerns currently existing on EDSA in relation to the establishment of these protected bike lanes. What are the things worth checking out, improving and fixing?
Road hazards to watch out for
It’s not as simple as placing bollards whether concrete or plastic along the right-most portion of EDSA. The team observed several issues while going south from the MMDA Traffic and Rescue Center in EDSA / Ortigas to the Magallanes Park in Makati City (and back via the northbound portion). For everyday bike commuters, these are worth checking out, regardless of whether the bike lanes are already there or not (yet). These hazards may be easily addressed by the MMDA and/or DPWH so that safety of our bike commuters may be vastly improved.
Open drainages with metal grill covers
Aside from non-level manhole covers that plague most streets, some of the drainage covers are those grill-type open covers. For those who bring along bikes with narrow tyres, beware. Some of them have widths which might be enough for you to crash when your tyres get caught in between the grills — hopefully not!!
Uneven patches of asphalt
There are certain portions of the highway where asphalt has been used to patch broken areas. Be careful as going through them can get bumpy.
Worse — some asphalted portions are even warped like the photo above. Beware and avoid getting disbalanced by these!
Do not assume they’re “just” paper! Packaging cartons may have staple wires on them (huge ones!) left from appliance packaging. Just like common wisdom, try to avoid them if you can — safely! Getting a flat will take some precious time out of your daily commute.
Metal flat sheets that cover unfinished diggings
Diggings may have been made to fix some drainage issues. In the meantime, the holes are covered with wide, flat sheets so that motorists can continue using the road. These are minor inconveniences for cars. For bikes however, they are a nuisance that sometimes need to be avoided. Especially risky is biking through them during rainy weather. They are smooth, so your risk for sliding is significant. If you can slow down or avoid them altogether (safely), do so.
Standing water (due to clogged drainage?)
During our return trip back to Ortigas Center, a stretch of EDSA seemed to have problems with drainage, as there was standing water on it.
You may think that it’s “just water”, but you will never know if there’s an open manhole in the puddle, or other unseen hazards underneath. Try to slow down and/or avoid them. Then again, it’s additional inconvenience for bike commuters without mudguards.
We fervently hope that the government through the MMDA and DPWH urgently construct the protected bike lane along EDSA soonest. It is one thing to provide safety to our bike commuters with these barriers. Hopefully these above-mentioned hazards may equally be addressed. Bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Some of these issues may be “nothing” to some bikes, but may prove to be serious hazards for those bikes with say, narrow tyres or smaller frames.
Hopefully bike commuter readers will find this useful in doing their first ride along EDSA by bike. While awaiting our protected bike lanes, it is wise to take note of the hazards that you might encounter along the way. Some of these safety issues are not only found on EDSA, so you might want to mentally map your own route’s set of hazards (like this one) so you can be prepared on your daily padyak.
Ingat on the road!