‘HAIR-RAISING’

Acosta share 'horror story' after councilors, agency reps sample bike lane route

Davao City councilors Joselle Villafuerte (left) and Mabel Acosta (right) lead a group of cyclists in a ride through of the city’s downtown streets on Thursday morning. Photo courtesy of Monica Ayala (Cycle for Life)

Hair-raising.

That’s how Councilor Maria Belen “Mabel” Acosta describes how it is to ride a bicycle around Davao City’s proposed bike lane route.

On Thursday morning, Acosta and City Council colleague Councilor Joselle Villafuerte took the challenge of the city’s biking community to get a real feel of how it is to ride a bicycle on the proposed bike lane. 

According to Cycle for Life convenor Monica Ayala, in her account of the experience posted on her Facebook account on Friday, the “Work On Wheels” ride came as an offshoot to the Joint Committee Hearing last June 15 which tackled amendments of the 2010 Davao Bicycle Ordinance and a proposed ordinance for Bike hours and routes conducted via Zoom led by office of Councilor Mabel Acosta. 

In that forum, Ayala said the cycling community representatives challenged the working committee to try the proposed Davao Bikelane Route on board a bicycle. The bike challenge was willingly accepted by chiefs of offices of the Committees on Peace Safety and Security, Transportation and Communication, and Health, the City Traffic and Transport Management Office (CTTMO), PSSCC, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and Task Force Davao (TFD).

“The activity was set for June 25 however on the said date not all office representatives were available,” Ayala said.

Leading the ride were councilors Acosta and Villafuerte who took to their saddles along with Ayala, Acosta’s daughter lawyer Luna Acosta, Chuck Lozano, bike advocates Iluminado Quinto (Dean of Architecture, University of Mindanao), Liza Parreño (Lend-a-Bike) Ed Luenberger (Davao All Terrain Bikers Association) Kahlil Sobong ” Karim Elijah” (Road Safety vlogger), Martin Zaldivar, (Lend-A-Bike) Dominic Carpio (FORCE), Ben Gonzalez (EcoTeneo), Lemuel Manalo and lawyer Mark Peñalver of IDIS, and Yas Ocampo (media representative).

According to Ayala, the 15-man group was then divided into two teams to observe physical distancing. Each team took separate routes. With the help of IDIS, an app was used to conduct a road audit along the assigned bike lane paths identifying obstructions that cause impediments in the flow of bikelane use.

“Kurog sa kulba ang first kilometer ride but our snappy salute to girl power on wheels, Councilor Mabel Acosta, Councilor Joselle Villafuerte and Atty Luna for carrying out the ride with grace and courage,” narrated Ayala.
The images posted by Ayala revealed the need for community education to make the bike lane effective. There were instances during the ride that saw public utility vehicles stopping in front of the bikers to unload passengers who immediately cross the street to go to the other side. There was also a parked police vehicle that impeded the imaginary bike lane.

In her Facebook account, Acosta posted: “Early this morning, I experienced first hand, together with Committee on Health Chair Mary Joselle Dilig Villafuerte, bike enthusiast Ed Leuenberger, Monica Ayala of Cycle for Life, Mark Penalver of IDIS, architect Iluminado Quinto, journalist Yas D. Ocampo, and other environmental and biker groups, how it is to be a biker in the downtown streets of Davao City.”

The lady councilor, a known environment advocate, revealed: “Dili lalim. Maka tindog balahibo. Most cars and jeeps would just load, unload, park, swerve without consideration to bikers.”

“We have to level up the public’s awareness about shared roads with bikers. Streets and signs have to be improved. Traffic enforcers should be strict about apprehending violations on illegal loading and unloading,” she said.
Acosta added in her post that “there’s lots of room for improvement for all sectors.”

“Making Davao City biker friendly is a work in progress. Together we can do this,” she said.

Ayala thanked the two councilors and other agency representatives for heeding the challenge.

“The community of bicyclists would like to express deep gratitude for the kind attention and acceptance of participants to the posed ” bike challenge” (most especially to our legislators) as a necessary exercise towards understanding the daily plight of local bicycle users, a move closer to biker friendliness and more inclusive and sustainable mobility, and safer roads for all in Davao City. This effort is in synchronicity and dedicated to our growing cycling groups and communities in Davao and other parts of the country, establishing bicycles as an essential and primary mode of transportation to address modern day challenges in times of COVID and beyond,” Ayala said.