While many cities struggle with mass transportation, the City of Iloilo is creating a safe haven for both cyclists and pedestrians. With a supportive local government and private partners, Iloilo is slowly becoming proof that modern cities don’t need high-tech transport systems to improve mobility for its citizens.
Their idea of the future is not about huge thoroughfares, fast cars, and high-tech train systems. For them, the future is to create more green space, encouraging pedestrians and cyclists to walk and bike their city.
Transforming safe spaces
Many may not know this, but Iloilo City is home to the longest linear park in the country along a major thoroughfare – the Iloilo River Esplanade.
In 2012, one of Iloilo’s key areas underwent a major transformation. Iloilo River was transitioned to be the next eco-recreational site. It sits at the heart of the city, and serves as a guiding foundation for the future of Iloilo infrastructure.
Award-winning landscape architect, Paulo Alcazaren, designed the esplanade. What started out as a space only cycling enthusiasts cared about soon evolved into something the city fully loved and appreciated.
The project started out as a 1.2-kilometer public park stretching from Diversion Road (Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue) to Carpenter Bridge in Molo District. Now, the Iloilo River Esplanade features several completed areas that circulates around the entire city. It has become their premiere recreational destination. Complete with viewing decks, a children’s playground, coffee shops, and other establishments, it serves as a living monument of proof that a Philippine city can have a relaxed lifestyle similar to European cities.
From what began as a simple beautification project in 2012, the space has now emerged into a safe haven for cyclists and pedestrians. More importantly, the river esplanade has become a source of great pride for city’s residents.
A growing [cycling] community
Iloilo’s river esplanade not only beautifies their city and helps people relax. It also promotes the use of bicycles as a possible primary mode of transportation in the city, earning the envy of Filipinos across the country. For more and more Ilonggos, the bicycle is now the perfect tool for living a well-balanced life.
Last year, Iloilo won the “Most Bike-Friendly City” award at the 2018 PhilBike Expo, and they’re very proud of it.
“The Ilonggo cycling community is very active and vibrant. You can see it with the multitude of bike-related events we have every month,” said Wilfredo Sy Jr., director of the Iloilo Bike Festival.
“Seeing the frequency of our group rides here, compared to other bike-friendly cities, leading gid ang Iloilo.”
As of today, the city council is working towards the repeal of the law banning bicycles on certain roads. Mayor Jose Espinosa ensures Ilonggos that he’ll continue to support this active lifestyle the city has come to embrace.
The local government has also created more bike lanes and continues to empower cycling communities. In addition, they’ve also passed an ordinance requiring all establishments in the city to install bike racks.
Like most bike-friendly cities in the world, the Iloilo shares the same discovery – that if bike lanes are built, more will bike!
Every bike ride is a representation of the Ilonggos’ collective vision and effort towards being a better city. It’s tough, it takes longer, but they know it’s the right thing to do. They’re building their strength, as they pedal their way into a future that’s truly theirs.