THE city council, through a resolution, has requested the Baguio City Bids and Awards Committee for Infrastructure for the deferment of the awarding of the contract for a P50 million bicycle lane project intended to be implemented in the city.
According to the City Engineering Office (CEO), the contract has already been bid out but is yet to be formally awarded to the winning bidder.
However, the council moved to request for the deferment after findings showed that the current Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) guidelines were not followed in the procedure.
Engineer Orlando Genove of the CEO said that the bidding for the project and the progress thus far were made in compliance with older guidelines of the DPWH, in Department Order No. 88 Series of 2020 (Prescribing Guidelines on the Design of Bicycle Facilities along National Roads).
Engr. Genove said the contract has not been awarded yet to the winning bidder.
On July 3, 2021, DPWH-Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) received a memorandum from the DPWH-CAR directing all district engineers to consider the Updated Guidelines and Standard Drawings for Bicycle facilities in the design of national roads for the installation of bike lanes.
However, under the Updated Guidelines and Standard Drawings for Bicycle Facilities in the Design of National Roads, the office spearheading the bicycle lane project should first conduct a feasibility study prior to taking any action on it.
DPWH-Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) District Engineer Rene Zarate and Engr. Cesario Rillera from the same office said that the updated guidelines should be followed.
Council members questioned the CEO proceeding with the bidding process without the conduct of any feasibility study prior.
According to the DPWH-BCDEO, bicycle lanes in the city can only be classified as shared roadways, which means that it is an area that is officially tagged for bicycle use but can also be used by motor vehicles due to limited carriageway width.
The CEO has plans however, in addition to a 6.45 km worth of shared roadways, for another 7.25 km of separated bike lanes or areas that will only be usable for pedestrians and bikers, which the DPWH-BCDEO says cannot be implemented in the city.
In addition to the request for deferment of the contract awarding, the city council has also requested for the CEO to present a modified plan to them, taking note of and complying with DPWH guidelines and rules.
Several members of the council questioned the move of the CEO to bid the project out without conducting any feasibility study.
The councilors emphasized the importance of conducting a feasibility study to ensure the safety of both cyclists and motorists when the bicycle facilities are already installed and ready to be utilized.
Furthermore, under the updated guidelines, there are three classes of bike lanes. These are Shared Use Path, which is completely separated from the roadway; Separated Bike Lane, which is a portion of the roadway designated exclusively for bicycle use; and Shared Roadway.
According to the DPWH-BCDEO, only the third class, Shared Roadway, is applicable to the roads in Baguio City.
A shared roadway is a portion of the road that has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route but can also be used by motor vehicles as there is a limited carriageway width.
Under the plan prepared by the CEO, shared roadways with a total distance of 6.45 km and separated bike lanes with a total distance of 7.25 km have been designated along the six identified routes.
This does not conform with the prescription of the updated guidelines as portions of the proposed roads are designated as separated bike lanes which, according to the DPWH-BCDEO officials, are not applicable to the city’s roads.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon, however, commended the CEO for having planned ahead. She said the CEO already started planning for the installation of bike lanes using certain design standards as their starting points prior to the crafting and issuance of guidelines by the DPWH.
The council further requested the CEO to present to the legislative body the city’s modified plan for the installation of bike lanes, taking into consideration guidelines and requirements set forth by the DPWH for national roads and suggestions of barangay officials on barangay roads.
The routes identified for Phase 1 of the project are the following:
Loakan-Apugan Barangay Hall to Leonard Wood Road; BGH Rotonda to Panagbenga Park via Military Cut-off; Justice Hall to Kalaw Street via Harrison Road; Governor Pack to BGH Rotonda; Harrison Road to M. Roxas via Magsaysay Street/ Bonifacio Street; and City Hall to Marcos Highway via Legarda Road. – with reports by Jordan G. Habbiling