The Ilonggos’ fascination for biking can be traced way back before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the city has been organizing its annual bike festival since the year 2013 and in 2018, Iloilo City was recognized as a Bike-Friendly City.
Difficulties on public transportation caused by the COVID-19, helped Ilonggos rekindle and strengthen their love for biking, not only as a safer way of commute but also as an enjoyable hobby that gradually transforms into a lifestyle.
As the surge of cyclists continues to rise, the spotlight is now directed to Iloilo City’s noteworthy bike lanes, giving it the moniker “Bike Capital of the Philippines”.
[Related: Iloilo Bike Festival 2021 on April 9-11]
Here is a deeper look at why Iloilo City is named as the “Bike Capital of the Philippines”:
1.) Iloilo City has its own protected bike lanes
Iloilo City takes pride in its picturesque bike lanes that Ilonggos enjoyed way before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Named as the “Bike Capital of the Philippines,” Iloilo has an 11-kilometer bike lane that stretches out from the Diversion Road and to selected city roads.
This lane includes a 4-kilometer protected lane. Several of these bike lanes are marked by lines on the pavement, but the one situated in Diversion road is adorned with plant boxes that also serve as a barrier that prevents cyclists from driving into the main road. The said protected bike lane, which is located in Aquino Avenue, was designed by award-winning landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren.
Because of this, Ilonggos will be encouraged to have a healthy lifestyle. Carbon footprints in Iloilo City will also be eventually reduced. It will also attract more people to love Iloilo City not only because of the city government’s initiatives but also because of holistic practices.
The said project was led by Former Senate President Franklin Drilon with the combined efforts of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in 2014.
2.) International recognitions/commendations
The city has in fact received commendations from the Dutch Ambassador H.E. Saskia Elisabeth De Langsaw during her visit to Iloilo City. She mentioned that the city possesses the potential to become the “Biking Haven of the Philippines”, provided that proper urban biking infrastructures and continuous support from the local government and its people.
“It’s not as congested as Manila. It has a size that is very well manageable. There is already a tradition for biking. People bike here for recreational purposes. It is already in the tradition, now it’s about making it accessible for everybody in terms of infrastructures. Biking should be safe, it should be easy to take a bike when going to work, shopping, or biking along the river,” she mentioned in her previous interviews.
3. The Iloilo City Government is planning to connect all bike lanes
The Iloilo City Government plans to interconnect bike lanes all over the urban center for easier transport and safer mobility, especially to those who bike to and from their workplace.
Mayor Jerry Treñas already talked with the group of bike advocate Rock Drilon, City Engineer’s Office (CEO), and the Department of Public Works and Highways – Western Visayas to address the demand for road-sharing.
“We push to finalize plans to connect all bike lanes all over the city. We prepare a cost estimate so we will look for funds to finance the implementation. CEO and DPWH will work together,” Treñas said.
“Kudos to Mayor Jerry who is currently working closely with bike advocates, City Engineering and DPWH to add another 20 kilometers of bike lanes to connect with existing bike lanes, including portions of the Esplanade, which is being targeted for completion mid-July, for the safety of Ilonggos on bicycles, seen to have increased phenomenally and using them as transport during the pandemic,” Drilon said.
“Phase 1 of the plan is to increase Iloilo City’s bike lanes from 23 to 42 kilometers immediately for more connectivity to keep Ilonggos safe as more citizens opt to bike in the new normal,” he said.
Drilon said that Public Safety and Transportation Management Office and Bike Council also presented standards in making biking safer for riders.
4.) Iloilo City is proclaimed as “Most Bike-Friendly City” in PhilBike Awards
Iloilo City was proclaimed as the country’s “Most Bike-Friendly City” during the PhilBike Awards in the PhilBike Expo in 2018. This was held at the World Trade Center Manila. This was made possible by the efforts of the local government, and of course by the driven Ilonggo cyclists.
Wilfredo Sy Jr., director of the Iloilo Bike Festival of the said year and one of the movers and leaders of the local biking community, was the one who received the “Most Bike-Friendly City” plaque.
“The Ilonggo cycling community is very active and vibrant, buhi gd,” Sy said. “You can see it with the multitude of bike-related events we have every month. Seeing the frequency of our group rides here, compared to other bike-friendly cities, leading gid ang Iloilo.”, he added.
City Sports Division officer-in-charge Moises Salomon Jr. said the city won the competition because of its strong foundation and partnership with the private sector. Among the strong competitors are the cities of Marikina and Pasig.
Iloilo City highlighted the annual Iloilo Bike Festival held during the summer season as its strong point. Also, the judges noted that the city’s bike lanes are wide enough.