Many Filipinos discovered the joys of cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022
, surveys by the Social Weather Stations showed that one out of four households nationwide owned bicycles. The nonprofit social research institution found that bicycle owners outnumbered car owners four to one.
The lack of protected bicycle lanes in the country, though, has resulted in cyclists risking life and limb as they bike from point A to point B. In Metro Manila
, 82 people died and 4,588 were injured in bicycle-related crashes from 2019 to 2021, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority.
There is a dearth of permanent and protected bike lanes that will keep cyclists alive. Such “gold standard
“ bike lanes feature physical barriers between persons on bicycles and moving cars. These rare lanes are found along Ayala Avenue in Makati City, the country’s financial hub.
However, the bike lanes were almost erased when Make It Makati
— a collaboration between the city government, Ayala Land, Inc., (ALI) and the Makati Commercial Estate Association — announced that they would be converted into shared or “sharrow
” lanes on Feb. 15
to ease traffic flow. The news sparked a public outcry among a wide range of concerned citizens.
They organized themselves into the #MakeItSaferMakati movement and harnessed the power of collective action to protest what one newspaper
described as an “an utterly asinine idea that benefits no one.” Citizens from all walks of life — such as cyclists, car owners, transport workers, delivery workers, pedestrians, and persons with disabilities — and 58 organizations issued a unity statement
condemning the move as one that will endanger “not just the lives of cyclists but the lives of all road users.”
In the statement, the activists called on the government to implement the National Transport Policy and the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028, which “call for the construction of active transport infrastructure that prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists and commuters.” They organized protests on Feb. 12
, gave media interviews
left and right, and negotiated with Make It Makati.
On Feb. 24
, the activists scored a victory for people-oriented mobility
. The #MakeltSaferMakati movement, ALI, and Makati Business Club said in a joint statement
that the protected bike lanes on Ayala Avenue would stay. The three vowed to forge a partnership that would be “a model for collaboration between people, local government units, and developers in promoting bike- and commuter-friendly places and cities all around the Philippines.”
Greenpeace Philippines lauded the activists for harnessing “people power”
to save the bike lanes. The organization referenced the 37th anniversary of the People Power Revolution in its post on Feb. 25, the day the historic event is commemorated.