UP BIKE SHARE, an advocacy group from the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman, is developing a smartphone application for its fourth-generation, bike-sharing system.

“As we shift from a third-generation, bike-sharing system to a fourth-generation one, we have been developing a smartphone app to replace the current SMS-based system,” UP Bike Share President Kimberly Ileanne A. dela Paz said in a phone message.

“This app will have users log in if they want to borrow a bike, track their activity, and also track the location of the bikes,” she added.

UP Bike Share has been lending bikes to hospitals since mid-March when the government imposed a strict lockdown to contain a coronavirus pandemic. The hospitals include St. Luke’s Medical Center-Bonifacio Global City, Philippine Heart Center, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

“Most of our bikes are still being used by the hospitals’ workers, so they have requested an extension of the lending period. Due to this, we’re putting off our plans of offering rentals to the UP community since we only have a limited number of bikes,” Ms. Dela Paz said.

She said the organization is looking to help other UP campuses implement their own bike-sharing system.

Ms. Dela Paz also welcomed the government’s initiative to build protected bike lanes along EDSA, and eventually, all over the capital.

“We want this to be seen as a testament to how bike lanes are necessary, useful, and can benefit our transportation system. We will continue to push other government units to follow suit and install their own bike lanes in their respective communities,” she said.

The Department of Transportation said it has partnered with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Health, and Department of Public Works and Highways to construct protected bike lanes “to connect major roads, residential areas, and high-volume commuter areas to major medical facilities.”

“In Manila City and Quezon City, a network has been instituted to make hospitals more accessible, especially for frontliners,” the department said in a recent statement.

The department also plans to develop pedestrian facilities around major rail stations.

“Through the EDSA Greenways Project, covered and elevated walkways leading to/from the rail stations and nearby land uses will be built. Phase 1 includes the stations in Balintawak, Cubao, Guadalupe, and Taft,” it added. — Arjay L. Balinbin