As the country implements community quarantine to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our daily activities must adapt to the New Normal. The limited transport services paved the way for other modes crucial for essential travel.

In response to these challenges, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) recently signed Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2020-0001 entitled “Guidelines on the Proper Use and Promotion of Active Transport During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

The Order provides guidance for the promotion and safe use of active transport during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It defines active transport as physical activities, such as walking or cycling, used as a means of transport. To encourage walking and cycling, the Order enjoins national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) to construct protected bicycle lanes and walking paths, and supportive infrastructure like bicycle racks and changing rooms. The Order also provides minimum public health standards for active transport users, such as the use of face masks and physical distancing.

“The DOTr fully supports the use of active transportation, such as biking and walking, as a viable addition and sustainable supplement to existing modes of transportation. We acknowledge the health and environmental benefits it brings. Makatutulong ito upang maging malusog ang pangangatawan ng ating mga kababayan, at upang mabawasan ang polusyon na unti-unting nagpapahina sa ating immune system. This will play a role as we transition into the new normal. Rest assured that the DOTr will exert its utmost effort to support and promote this initiative.” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

“We thank our partner agencies for collaborating with us to ensure that our health workers, frontliners, and other essential workers can safely get to their workplaces and destination using alternative means of active transport,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III explained. “Certainly, we will promote active transport even after the COVID-19 pandemic, to encourage a more active lifestyle and safer roads for all.”

Complementary to the JAO, the DOH has produced a Health Promotion Playbook on Active Transport in partnership with the DILG and civil society groups. The Playbook aims to assist LGUs in rolling out their own bicycle lanes. It explains the health benefits of, and contains technical instructions, including a template ordinance, implementation plan, communication materials, and a monitoring and evaluation plan for a successful bicycle lane network.

“We want to be able to provide viable options to our citizens especially for civilians who would opt to walk or use their bikes instead of vehicles. This initiative is our take in ensuring that our projects are people-centric by providing faster, safer, and more pleasant travel experience not just to motorists but also to bikers and pedestrians”, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar remarked.

“We enjoin all LGUs to make use of these resources and adopt active transport within their locales. To weather the tides of this pandemic, all government agencies including LGUs should collaborate and unite to ensure the safety and health of every Filipino,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that even before the issuance of the JAO, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-100 on July 17 as guidelines to LGUs for the establishment of a network of cycling lanes and walking paths to support people’s mobility.

“With the limited modes of transportation available today, people would understandably look for alternatives. As more and more people shift to biking as a way to get to their destinations, LGUs must be prepared to support them through the allotment of bike lanes to ensure their safety,” Año said.

“We cannot tell yet when our country or the globe will finally be free from COVID-19, so the implementation of health and safety protocols will be with us for a while. Matagal pa ulit bago natin makitang siksikan ang mga tren at pampublikong bus, kaya kailangang tiyakin ng LGUs na may ligtas na cycling lanes sa mga lokalidad at siyempre disiplina sa pagamit ng mga ito,” he added.