DTI eyeing price caps for bicycles

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) – The Department of Trade and Industry is looking into setting price limits on bicycles, which became a preferred mode of transport under lockdown.

"Biglang naging in-demand, naging essential [Bikes are suddenly in demand and essential]. Some people are telling us na i-price control na rin. Anyway, we will look into that as well kasi merong spike eh," DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez told CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday.

READ: Worth the ride? How bikes are becoming a transport option under the new normal

The government has been encouraging cycling to work and to run errands with public transportation banned for the last two and a half months in areas under enhanced community quarantine and modified ECQ.

Among the popular donations for health workers at the start of the lockdown were bicycles, which were meant to help them get to work without relying on public transport.

Ahead of the reopening of business establishments in Metro Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has been tasked to retrofit EDSA, the busiest thoroughfare, to provide dedicated bike lanes.

​Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Thursday night that authorities will install bike lanes as a temporary fix to respond to renewed interest in this mode of travel.

"‘Pag ito ho na-prove sa aming eksperimento na kaya, gagawin ho namin ‘yung istrakturang permanent. Sabihin ko lang ho na ‘yung bicycle lane will not be limited to EDSA, it will be limited to parts of the country if it works [If experiments prove that this is feasible, we will make the structures permanent. I will also say that this bicycle lane will not be limited to EDSA, it will be limited to parts of the country if it works]," Tugade said during a meeting in Malacañang.

The design study from the DOTr page shows that the bike lane will occupy the outermost lanes, separated by guideposts for the lanes occupied by private cars. Buses will travel along the innermost lanes.

The agency is slowly reopening public transport options this June. Only bikes, trains and bus augmentation rides, point-to-point buses, shuttles, taxis, and ride-hailing services will be allowed from June 1-21, with city buses and modern jeepneys to ply the roads three weeks later as DOTr seeks to manage the volume of commuters and see if this leads to a spike in infections. 

Senator Francis Tolentino proposed to set a price freeze on bicycles to prevent abuses amid high demand during a Senate inquiry on Thursday. He also asked government agencies to designate and improve bike lanes around Metro Manila, adding that encouraging two-wheeled travel will help decongest roads.

Over 12 million people reside in Metro Manila.

The group Alt Mobility Philippines has also suggested a ₱10 billion budget for the government to put up walking and cycling infrastructure, such as elevated walkways and bike paths, under the "new normal," as cars and public buses and jeeps can ferry fewer commuters due to social distancing rules.