SMART, LIVABLE CITY: Iloilo pedals toward greater mobility and social good

Ilonggo bikers coming out from SM City Iloilo.

ILOILO CITY- Mobility is a key feature of a smart and livable city, a goal which the local government here envisions for itself. As Iloilo aims to be one of the country’s most livable highly-urbanized cities in the Philippines, local leaders have been taking bigger steps toward sustainable urban development.

Positioning Iloilo City as the “Bike Capital of the Philippines” is a right step in this direction. Biking is seen to play a key role in the city’s intention to adopt more sustainable, economical and efficient mobility.

According to an initial count of various advocacy groups, there are more than 8,000 bike users in the city and bike usage keeps surging as the local government, supported by the private sector, continues to invest in bike-friendly infrastructure, facilities and programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic also paved the way for people to look for alternative modes of transport such as bikes and walking. A survey by the Social Weather Stations showed that when the pandemic happened, 87% of Filipinos believed it would be better for the government to highly prioritize alternative transportation along the local community.

But even before the pandemic, the city has been implementing projects, strengthening policies and forging partnerships that promote sustainable mobility. These include the development of the Iloilo City Network, an 11-kilometer bike lane, the allocation of protected areas for bikers in the Iloilo Esplanade, celebrating Iloilo Bike Festival and implementation of the Friday Bike Count to gather more data to inform plans for more inclusive mobility infrastructure.

In 2021, Iloilo bagged the gold award in the first-ever National Bike Day Bike Lane Awards, a project mounted by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health and SM Cares. The initiative puts a spotlight on commendable projects of local government units (LGUs) in establishing a more inclusive and sustainable road infrastructure network to the vast needs of road users.

SM City Iloilo has heeded the call of Ilonggo cyclists for a more bike-friendly facilities by putting up new bike racks with a bike repair station in a much better location at Southpoint area.
SM City Iloilo new bike racks with a bike repair station in a much better location at Southpoint area.

Recently, Iloilo City’s I-Bike Program was shortlisted for the Galing Pook Awards, where about 200 entries were submitted by different LGUs nationwide. This recognition is led by the Galing Pook Foundation and its public and private partners, DILG Local Government Academy and SM Prime. For the win, Iloilo City advances its promotion of biking and walking as means of alternative mobility, aligning with the Galing Pook Awards’ mission to encourage innovation, sustainability, citizen empowerment and excellence in local governance.

The redevelopment of the Iloilo Central Market and Iloilo Terminal Market, a public-private partnership between the Iloilo City government and SM Prime, is also expected to positively impact mobility in the city. The markets will be transformed into modern infrastructures with enhanced facilities, organized retail spaces, a more efficient ingress and egress points for goods delivery, and 500 parking slots each. The project will be providing safer and greener spaces for commerce and livelihood while giving a better shopping experience.

On top of these, the project is seen to contribute in the improvement of traffic congestion.

SM City Iloilo complements government initiatives through its Bike-Friendly SM Program, which includes the installation of improved bike-friendly facilities like bike racks and repair stations in the mall. This is part of SM Supermalls’ nationwide initiative to promote the culture of cycling. Across all SM Supermalls, there are now more than 500 bike racks and more than 80 repair stations nationwide.

Elevating the positive impact of biking, the local government and cycling club Team Ambi, supported by SM Iloilo City, call upon advocates and enthusiasts to ride together in celebration of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. Entitled the “Fun Ride for Pink October” slated on Oct. 8, 2022, this event is a non-competitive ride to honor the bravery of women who won, lost and continue to battle breast cancer.

More than 81 biking groups within the city and province of Iloilo are expected to participate. The ride out will kick off at 6 a.m. at SM South Point and proceed to circle across town so more Ilonggos can witness a solid riding community rallying for breast cancer awareness and support.

As a special treat for bikers, homegrown brand Kurukape will be offering valuable discounts during the event until Nov. 30, 2022.

With the government and private sectors working together to promote biking, sustainable mobility is attainable and could be accelerated. Moreover, it can be used as a platform for other advocacies for social good.

SM is committed to continue supporting the local government in making Iloilo a livable city where people can thrive.

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