Marikina: The Biking Capital

Crossing the Marikina bridge from Aurora Blvd in Quezon City I am immediately met by a bike lane. Turning off the bridge, I find another bike lane connecting to the expansive waterfront which is one large public highway. Marikina is the closest to a city built for people who want to walk, use bikes, or other non-motorized modes of transport that we have in Metro Manila. With several years of this approach under its belt, it is possible to see the effect- active public spaces, a large biking population, and a connected network of communities.  

The Marikina Bridge 

The Marikina Bridge 

The day after Typhoon Ondoy hit, I walked across the Marikina Bridge where hours earlier the water level reached above the bridge. It was the worst typhoon in Metro Manila's history; this is the only formal marking of the historic event along the river, but it's impact is not forgotten. 

The day after Typhoon Ondoy hit, I walked across the Marikina Bridge where hours earlier the water level reached above the bridge. It was the worst typhoon in Metro Manila's history; this is the only formal marking of the historic event along the river, but it's impact is not forgotten. 

This floating bridge can technically be moved to any location. This is the only one along the river, but it should be replicated at other points along the river since there are few places to cross to the other side. These are a low-cost solution which can be easily implemented around Metro Manila on other rivers; after visiting the disconnected areas of Navotas and Malabon there are clearly numerous potential opportunities to use these elsewhere. 

This floating bridge can technically be moved to any location. This is the only one along the river, but it should be replicated at other points along the river since there are few places to cross to the other side. These are a low-cost solution which can be easily implemented around Metro Manila on other rivers; after visiting the disconnected areas of Navotas and Malabon there are clearly numerous potential opportunities to use these elsewhere. 

Bikes for rent along the Marikina River; Marikina has gone beyond simply laying out lanes to encourage biking. 

Bikes for rent along the Marikina River; Marikina has gone beyond simply laying out lanes to encourage biking. 

The Feast of Our Lady Lourdes is celebrated with an afternoon mass in front of a large grotto along the river. 

The Feast of Our Lady Lourdes is celebrated with an afternoon mass in front of a large grotto along the river. 

Marikina University tourism students prepare for a local dance competition, themed South Africa. I spotted them hanging out in a shaded part of the riverside making costumes out of plastic string and fabric. Their dance leader, Joe aka Miley is according to one dance student "invaluable to our team" not only because she creates winning dances but because she keeps them disciplined. 

Marikina University tourism students prepare for a local dance competition, themed South Africa. I spotted them hanging out in a shaded part of the riverside making costumes out of plastic string and fabric. Their dance leader, Joe aka Miley is according to one dance student "invaluable to our team" not only because she creates winning dances but because she keeps them disciplined. 

Another local dance troupe practices along the waterfront in the late afternoon. 

Another local dance troupe practices along the waterfront in the late afternoon. 

5th grade baseball players from South Caloocan admiring the river after their 9-5 win. The team is so far undefeated this season. The boys pointed excitedly to people fishing down the river. It was endearing to see their sense of fascination with the river. 

5th grade baseball players from South Caloocan admiring the river after their 9-5 win. The team is so far undefeated this season. The boys pointed excitedly to people fishing down the river. It was endearing to see their sense of fascination with the river. 

The riverfront is not only used as an alternative transportation corridor but also for a variety of recreational and community uses. Here a baseball field is flanked by a community garden. 

The riverfront is not only used as an alternative transportation corridor but also for a variety of recreational and community uses. Here a baseball field is flanked by a community garden. 

Thanks for Paul Sison, a fellow Board of Trustee of the Inclusive Mobility Network and Marikina's PR Officer, I was able to have a personal tour of the bike lane system with Vice Mayor Cadiz and staff from the Marikina Bikeways Office; the only office of its kind in Metro Manila. 

Thanks for Paul Sison, a fellow Board of Trustee of the Inclusive Mobility Network and Marikina's PR Officer, I was able to have a personal tour of the bike lane system with Vice Mayor Cadiz and staff from the Marikina Bikeways Office; the only office of its kind in Metro Manila. 

What is impressive about Marikina's bike lane system is the variety of approaches, some better than others. 

What is impressive about Marikina's bike lane system is the variety of approaches, some better than others. 

The bike lanes run along esteros in the city. The water seems relatively clean and does not smell. The lanes connect schools like this one (at the right) to residential areas. In Marikina the bike lanes are not arbitrary, but actually link social uses. 

The bike lanes run along esteros in the city. The water seems relatively clean and does not smell. The lanes connect schools like this one (at the right) to residential areas. In Marikina the bike lanes are not arbitrary, but actually link social uses. 

Continued bike lane along the esteros. 

Continued bike lane along the esteros. 

Here the lane dips down and no longer has a railing. The city plans to compliment these areas with greening programs. 

Here the lane dips down and no longer has a railing. The city plans to compliment these areas with greening programs. 

Since the density in Marikina is quite low and there is not a high population, these single, unprotected bike lanes seemed appropriate. A similar design would not work in another area with higher traffic. 

Since the density in Marikina is quite low and there is not a high population, these single, unprotected bike lanes seemed appropriate. A similar design would not work in another area with higher traffic. 

This is Daang Dari, the former railroad tracks. The government plans to make the entire several kilometer stretch into a car-free highway. It used to be blocked to vehicles, but in 2010 enforcement lapsed and cars are now parked in front of houses and taxis use the thoroughfare. It will be challenging to re-institute the policy and the government will have to work with the local communities to plan for alternative parking areas and routes. 

This is Daang Dari, the former railroad tracks. The government plans to make the entire several kilometer stretch into a car-free highway. It used to be blocked to vehicles, but in 2010 enforcement lapsed and cars are now parked in front of houses and taxis use the thoroughfare. It will be challenging to re-institute the policy and the government will have to work with the local communities to plan for alternative parking areas and routes. 

Here a sidewalk lane is appropriate, because it is still at grade with the street, there are no obstructions, and the lane is wide enough for pedestrian use as well. Also here it is shaded which is an ideal consideration. 

Here a sidewalk lane is appropriate, because it is still at grade with the street, there are no obstructions, and the lane is wide enough for pedestrian use as well. Also here it is shaded which is an ideal consideration. 

This sidewalk lane is less ideal since it has obstructions, but at least the parking is accessed from a separate area, which prevents cars from crossing the bike lane into a slot. 

This sidewalk lane is less ideal since it has obstructions, but at least the parking is accessed from a separate area, which prevents cars from crossing the bike lane into a slot. 

Which is the case here...

Which is the case here...

Again, the lanes link social uses, like the hospital. 

Again, the lanes link social uses, like the hospital. 

And a youth center. 

And a youth center. 

The bicycle parking is near to the security stand. Whether this is intentional or not, it is a smart pairing; people feel more secure locking their bikes to stands if they are near a security post. 

The bicycle parking is near to the security stand. Whether this is intentional or not, it is a smart pairing; people feel more secure locking their bikes to stands if they are near a security post. 

This bike rack in the local market encourages use for short trips (instead of jeepneys or tricycles). Providing the bike parking at the beginning of the market helps decrease through movement from bikes and motorcycles and prioritizes the pedestrian use. 

This bike rack in the local market encourages use for short trips (instead of jeepneys or tricycles). Providing the bike parking at the beginning of the market helps decrease through movement from bikes and motorcycles and prioritizes the pedestrian use. 

In the evening I went to Lilac street, a budding Maginhawa with independent restaurants sprouting up along the street. The waiter at the Singlish Cafe where I decided to eat (Singlish meaning Singaporean and not a cafe for single people- my mistake!) told me to park it at this spot. I was confused at first because there was no rack and none of the other bikes were locked. This parking attendant assured me that I could leave my bike there and it would be secure. Sure enough when I returned it was still there. I noticed this around Marikina, few bikes were actually locked to the racks or posts on the street where they were parked. 

In the evening I went to Lilac street, a budding Maginhawa with independent restaurants sprouting up along the street. The waiter at the Singlish Cafe where I decided to eat (Singlish meaning Singaporean and not a cafe for single people- my mistake!) told me to park it at this spot. I was confused at first because there was no rack and none of the other bikes were locked. This parking attendant assured me that I could leave my bike there and it would be secure. Sure enough when I returned it was still there. I noticed this around Marikina, few bikes were actually locked to the racks or posts on the street where they were parked. 

The bike parking at the City Hall. In front of the city hall is a plaza heavily patronized by the local student population from surrounding universities. Marikina seems to get the clustering of uses correct encouraging use of its public spaces. 

The bike parking at the City Hall. In front of the city hall is a plaza heavily patronized by the local student population from surrounding universities. Marikina seems to get the clustering of uses correct encouraging use of its public spaces. 

You know biking is a priority when the Mayor bikes to work! 

You know biking is a priority when the Mayor bikes to work! 

Vice Mayor Cadiz cruising. Going around with him he knew everyone, from vendors to pedicab drivers. He bikes everywhere and is brought of his Japanese surplus find that he outfitted with custom made leather saddles hand crafted in Marikina. There is apparently a budding leather bike accessories industry in Marikina. WIth its heritage in shoe making this seems like an innovative evolution in craft. I was told that the bicycle parts and assembly are primarily still in Valenzuela, but Marikina does have a strong buy and sell bike industry. 

Vice Mayor Cadiz cruising. Going around with him he knew everyone, from vendors to pedicab drivers. He bikes everywhere and is brought of his Japanese surplus find that he outfitted with custom made leather saddles hand crafted in Marikina. There is apparently a budding leather bike accessories industry in Marikina. WIth its heritage in shoe making this seems like an innovative evolution in craft. I was told that the bicycle parts and assembly are primarily still in Valenzuela, but Marikina does have a strong buy and sell bike industry. 

The Bikeways Office offers free tune ups at the Marikina Sports Complex. One of the trained mechanics gives my Parceiro a one over and was able to fix a break which was slightly misaligned. 

The Bikeways Office offers free tune ups at the Marikina Sports Complex. One of the trained mechanics gives my Parceiro a one over and was able to fix a break which was slightly misaligned. 

Leaving Marikina to Pasig, I exit the city along the riverfront which connects to bike lanes leading to Santolan LRT Station. This particular stretch is called Animal Trail...named for the random series of concrete animal statues. 

Leaving Marikina to Pasig, I exit the city along the riverfront which connects to bike lanes leading to Santolan LRT Station. This particular stretch is called Animal Trail...named for the random series of concrete animal statues. 

The waterfront development hasn't caught up with the wide easement and public access along Marikina River. With SM mall just across this bridge I would expect to see more commercial development along the river, but it is quite barren. The active use of the spaces near the Marikina River pictured earlier are due to the fact that there are nearby residential areas, schools, offices, and commercial offerings like waterfront restaurants and bars. 

The waterfront development hasn't caught up with the wide easement and public access along Marikina River. With SM mall just across this bridge I would expect to see more commercial development along the river, but it is quite barren. The active use of the spaces near the Marikina River pictured earlier are due to the fact that there are nearby residential areas, schools, offices, and commercial offerings like waterfront restaurants and bars. 

Eastwood is seen in the distance. 

Eastwood is seen in the distance. 

Under the bridge in front of SM is supposed to be an MMDA multi-modal transport hub. The location is a center point for jeepneys, tricycles, and an LRT stop, but the river is too low for a ferry to also stop here unfortunately. The entire river needs to be dredged in a standard fashion among all the LGUs in order for it to be effective; a coordination effort that has yet to transpire. 

Under the bridge in front of SM is supposed to be an MMDA multi-modal transport hub. The location is a center point for jeepneys, tricycles, and an LRT stop, but the river is too low for a ferry to also stop here unfortunately. The entire river needs to be dredged in a standard fashion among all the LGUs in order for it to be effective; a coordination effort that has yet to transpire. 

Next to the Santolan LRT station is a wide opening which people cross going from the station to the pedicabs and other jeepneys at the back. This could be transformed into a park and commuting hub with organized stations for jeepneys and tricycles and bike parking. Currently there is no where to park bicycles for those commuting from neighboring areas to the station. This is a primary station for both Marikina and Pasig, which brings people as far as Recto for shopping for instance at Divisoria. Jeepney use could be reduced by allowing people to park bicycles at this station. 

Next to the Santolan LRT station is a wide opening which people cross going from the station to the pedicabs and other jeepneys at the back. This could be transformed into a park and commuting hub with organized stations for jeepneys and tricycles and bike parking. Currently there is no where to park bicycles for those commuting from neighboring areas to the station. This is a primary station for both Marikina and Pasig, which brings people as far as Recto for shopping for instance at Divisoria. Jeepney use could be reduced by allowing people to park bicycles at this station. 

Commuters exit to a tricycle terminal outside the gate. 

Commuters exit to a tricycle terminal outside the gate. 

The crowds in front of Santolan. 

The crowds in front of Santolan.