Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Saturday led the inauguration of bike-friendly infrastructures and facilities at the SM Mall of Asia as part of the retail and entertainment empire’s push for healthier and more accessible mobility during the time of Covid-19.

The “SM Bike Friendly program” encourages the mall’s tenants and establishments to be bike-friendly to patrons on top of mall management’s installation of bike parking facilities, repair stations, helmet storage, and hydration stations. Information drives on first aid, road safety, bike repair, and motorist etiquette are also planned in coordination with local bike groups.

“I hope to be able to return to biking myself,” the Cab Sec said, “so I could use these new and convenient facilities.”

The renewed interest in bike use led to the SM Cares initiative which provides a safe, convenient, and pleasant experience to bike users and commuters in the area.

“Everyone behind this worthy effort deserves praise and congratulations. We need projects like these that promote public health and safety. Filipinos are looking for safe outdoor activities during this new normal,” the former Davao legislator stressed.

Nograles, himself a cycling enthusiast, co-authored House Bill 174 or the Bicycle Law in 2016. The measure sought to mandate the creation of bike lanes in roads and thoroughfares and pushed for the creation of a Local Bikeways Office in coordination with the DPWH, LTO, and related national government agencies.

The Cab Sec noted that throughout the years, more proposed legislation on bike usage has been filed in both Houses of Congress, citing as an example Senate Bill No. 1518, or the “Safe Pathways Act” that was filed recently by Senator Pia Cayetano. At present, there are no less than 10 similar proposals at the House of Representatives.

“Everyone is now beginning to realize the health and lifestyle benefits of cycling. Covid-19 has actually increased bicycle sales. More people are using two wheels as an alternative and viable mode of transportation,” the MalacaƱang official observed.

The increased bicycle use has prompted the DOTr to install bicycle racks at the LRT 1, LRT 2, MRT 3, and PNR transit lines. The DILG for its part has released Memo Circular No. 2020-100 which provides guidelines for the creation of a network of cycling lanes and walking paths by local government units.

SM MOA has installed bicycle lanes throughout the sprawling mall complex in Pasay City, complete with bike-centric street signs. Management will also build a network of connected bike lanes stretching 18 kilometers, including one along J.W. Diokno Boulevard and a future interconnection with lanes throughout greater Manila.

“Let’s continue actively developing a strong and sustained bike culture in the entire country. We’re very thankful to the SM group of companies for supporting national and local government initiatives on bicycle use. This is one good example of public-private partnership for the common good,” Nograles explained. ###

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