PGH doctor proposes bike route for Manila health frontliners

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Bike lane in EDSA (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 28) — Instead of public transportation, healthcare workers in Manila find biking a safer option to get to hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a doctor from the Philippine General Hospital said Thursday.

Dr. Tony Dans, who is also a University of the Philippines College of Medicine Professor, suggested putting up a six-kilometer-long bike loop that passes four hospitals in Manila.

The route will cover PGH on Taft Avenue, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center along Quirino Avenue and corner of Roxas Boulevard, Manila Doctors Hospital in United Nations Avenue and Manila Medical Center back in Taft Avenue.

"Health workers are a pretty special situation when it comes to transport, because people don't want to go near us and we're cautious about getting too near people, especially those in the frontlines taking care of patients," Dans said in a hearing of the Senate committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking.

He shared that 800 health personnel from PGH have requested bikes, and the hospital was able to raise money to provide 250 of them.

"PGH had to construct its own bike parking lot just show to how important it is for hospitals," said Dans.

The Manila city government said in a Facebook post that it is studying proposals for bike lanes in the capital.

Protecting the front liner

Cycling advocacy group Life Cycles PH also stressed the need for bike lanes in the middle of a pandemic.

Group founder Keisha Mayuga shared to the panel the story of Ryan Morente. Morente is a nurse who borrowed a bicycle to visit the home of his patient, a newborn baby in need of a vaccine.

"He is just one of the many frontliners who have benefited from cycling as a means to commute during this pandemic," said Mayuga.

She pointed out that some frontliners are still forced to walk for hours despite the government assuring ferry services.

Mayuga also appealed to officials to keep lanes protected, seeing as most bikers will likely be new in cycling on the road. She said this because her group had just donated bikes to 1,400 frontliners in over 47 institutions.

"The least we can do for the people saving our lives is to save theirs," she said.

The Interior Department on the same day as the hearing said it will also order local governments to set up bike lanes as part of the COVID-19 response as quarantine restrictions ease in Metro Manila.

Senator Francis Tolentino, a former Metro Manila Development Chairman, said the agency had established bike lanes such as in Commonwealth Avenue and Roxas Boulevard while local governments during his term also passed ordinances on biking. Tolentino was MMDA chief from 2010 until 2015 when he resigned to run for senator.

MMDA said it will follow up with LGUs on the status of these ordinances.

Meanwhile, Pasig City has already set up pop-up biking lanes as a start.