Cyclists are riding across Metro Manila for #SabaySaBike, in celebration of World Car Free Day. They are calling for more protected bike lanes and encouraging commuters to biking as an important mode of transportation during the pandemic.

In celebration of World Car Free Day, the first Mobility Awards was launched in the country by environmental groups  to recognize the most bike-friendly cities, workplaces, and commercial establishments in Metro Manila.

The awards aim to spur concerted action among  government, commuters, and the private sector to make Metro Manila a bike-friendly metropolis, according to Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), MNL Moves, The Climate Reality Project Philippines (TCRP Philippines), and 350 Pilipinas, which organized the Mobility Awards.

“Eighty-eight percent of households in Metro Manila don’t own cars. They are the majority and should be the priority, not the 12 percent who have at least one car,” said urban planner and MNL Moves founder Aldrin Pelicano. 

“Promoting cycling is certainly not the only solution, as active mobility requires improving walkability and public transport, but protecting the growing number of cyclists and encouraging others to bike is a real step in the right direction. Let’s make a bikeable Metro Manila together,” Pelicano added.

The top three nominated cities or municipalities, workplaces, and commercial establishments in the Metro will be given recognition. They will be determined by a panel of judges composed of Pelicano, ICSC associate for program development Maria Golda Hilario, TCRP PH branch manager Nazrin Camille Castro, 350 Pilipinas volunteer and Asia finance campaigner Chuck Baclagon, and Pinay Bike Commuter Community founder Jaramia Amarnani. 

The organizers hope to hold the awards nationwide in the future.

During the three-month lockdown and succeeding months when quarantine measures were relaxed and public transportation in short supply, people turned to cycling to go to their destinations.  

“People in Metro Manila cycle every day. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) counted over 100,000 cyclists traversing six major intersections on EDSA last June, with an average of 4,000 cyclists every day. Even MMDA officials consider the numbers are likely a huge underestimate, which is why a regular bike count needs to happen, in more locations,” Pelicano said.

According to the organizers, nominations for the Mobility Awards are unlimited. Nominations are accepted via the website until October 22. Winners will be awarded on October 29. 

“A mobility revolution is well underway, led on foot and on two wheels by common folks. Cycling and walking have been gaining more prominence as practical and efficient transport modes since the pandemic began, yet we can still make them much safer and easier for all,” Pelicano said.