I WAS MISQUOTED: PSTMO head clarifies issue on bike lanes

A GROUP of bikers at the service road of Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue or Diversion Road in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. The City Hall is reviewing existing traffic laws to further push the city’s standing as a bike friendly community. (F. A. Angelo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

A FACEBOOK post by a local radio station about a 37-year-old ordinance banning bicycles in certain areas of Iloilo City sparked outrage among netizens and bikers.

Citing an interview with Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) head Jeck Conlu, the online report posted Tuesday evening stated that bikers in the metro will be apprehended and fined if they trudge in areas covered by the bike ordinance.

The post went viral and received angry reactions, especially from bikers who stressed that the pronouncement was a complete irony to the city government’s claim as a “Bike-Friendly City”.

But Conlu clarified that the report was false and that he was misquoted.

In an interview, Conlu emphasized that he never meant to apprehend bikers in the city.

Instead, Conlu said he was discussing an ordinance regulating the operations of bicycles in the city or Ordinance No. 354 which dates back to 1982.

Iklaro ko lang na indi ko ya mang-dakop sang bikes. Ang akon ya gin-discuss ang ordinance sang 1982 kay on the process kami nga nagatipon sang mga ordinansa halin pa sang una,” he said.

Conlu said they are currently on the process of reviewing ordinances on road regulations from 1970s to 1990s.

The department head intimated that he wants to amend City Ordinance No. 354 since it is contradicting with the bike lanes situated in the streets of the city.

Isa sa naga-contradict sa aton bike lane ang ordinance sang 1982. Ang akon ginhambal i-amend naton ini siya para makahatag proteksyon sa bike lane and ma-implement namon ang bike lane ordinance kag para maproteksyonan ang bike lanes naton,” he said.

Conlu lamented that motorists and public utility jeepneys (PUJs) have no idea on how to deal with the bike lanes situated in the metro.

Wala sang nakabalo kon ano to guidelines sa bike lane dira, so ang aton mga motorista and PUJs, wala man sila kabalo kon pwede na malapakan nila da or pwede sila da ka-unload,” he added.

As of now, Conlu said they are preparing a letter and a draft of ordinance to be submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod on the implementation and guidelines of bike lanes.

Nagaubra kami subong draft letter and ordinance and padala naton sa City Council para makaubra na kita ordinance para sa bike lane kag maka-implement man kami sang mga nagalapas sang violation sa bike lane and maproteksyunan aton bikers,” he explained.

According to Conlu, aside from promoting mobility, the bike lanes were designed to help ease traffic and congestion in the streets and at the same time encouraged students and employees of business establishments to use bicycles.

“Ina siya is to promote gid sang mobility naton and makabulig sa traffic, congestion, and volume sang vehicles sa dalan naton kay ini siya gin-design for university loop. Kay ining university loop para ma-encourage ang mga students maggamit bike kag iban naton nga business establishments nga may empleyado nga maggamit man bike,” he stressed.

He also emphasized that their department has always been supportive of the city’s thrust on road sharing and its call as a bike-friendly city.

Ang aton direction is bike friendly city kita and road sharing kita so kon may ara na ta ordinance may ara ta personnel on ground ma-guide naton aton mga motorists and bikers kon paano magamit ang bike lanes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Facebook post of the local radio station has been taken down.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III also issued an official statement on the said issue.

“As a Bike enthusiast, I of all people admire those who espouse a healthy and economically sound way of life. Ordinance No. 354, Series of 1982, is outdated and does not serve constituents’ interest and purpose to date and runs counter to the government’s efforts to curb air pollution by encouraging smoke-free vehicle like bicycles,” he said.

The mayor assured he will forward the said ordinance to the Iloilo City Council so that they may repeal/amend the said law to protect the bikers.

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