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Archive for February, 2022

From crisis to opportunity: How the Philippines built 500km of bike lanes in less than a year

Cycling infrastructure along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

While on her way to another hospital shift as a radiology clerk in Metro Manila, April boarded a bus and watched the news with her fellow commuters. The rise of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines led the government to announce an extensive lockdown, which included suspending all public transport operations. April doesn’t own a car and she couldn’t afford to miss work because she has to provide for her elderly mother and disabled brother. This meant she and other healthcare workers would have to walk for hours after a long shift. But she soon realized she had another option.

“I never thought of riding a bike to the hospital before,” April recounted. “But when we healthcare workers didn’t have the option to use public transport, I tried to pedal. At first, I was nervous, especially on major roads. But in the long run, we got used to it and became more confident.”

Just like April, scores of commuters who used to rely mostly on public transport turned to cycling as a result of the pandemic. And many stuck to their bike even after mass services resumed. With more and more cyclists converging on main roads, it was necessary for the national government to think about solutions for accommodating the growing number of bikes and ensuring all road users can get around safely.

A survey launched in partnership with the World Bank Group’s Technical Assistance team and national government agencies gathered more than 7,400 respondents showing the increase in cycling amongst Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

A survey launched in partnership with the World Bank Group’s Technical Assistance team and national government agencies gathered more than 7,400 respondents showing the increase in cycling amongst Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Cycling as an opportunity during the COVID-19 crisis

In September 2020, the rise of cycling along with the tremendous advocacy work done by CSOs, urban cycling advocates, and many others led the national government to allocate more than 22 Million USD for active mobility infrastructure. This translated into the largest bike lane construction program in the country’s history: almost 500 kilometers across Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

Designing, adapting and building hundreds of kilometers of infrastructure for active transport in less than a year is no easy task. To support this initiative, the World Bank Philippines Transport Team, the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, and the Australian government jointly provided technical assistance to support the government’s implementation of the bike lane construction program, with a focus on ensuring the new cycling infrastructure could meet the highest safety standards.

The WB team reviewed the initial guidelines produced by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Highways to confirm they followed the Safe System approach. A series of Road Safety Inspections and Road Safety Audits were also conducted to ensure that national government agencies received appropriate guidance on international best practices through every step of the process, from design to construction.

As part of the technical assistance, the WB team not only worked with road safety experts but also involved the community, including persons with disabilities, women, and the elderly. A series of surveys and focus group discussions were held to ensure that community feedback was considered in reviewing current and future infrastructure designs.

To build on this work and promote long-term results, the World Bank team with additional support from Netherlands Embassy carried out a series of trainings on topics such as Dutch Cycling Infrastructure principles, which are considered among the best in the world. The trainings brought together a wide range of stakeholders, all of whom have invested their time and efforts in helping create quality cycling infrastructure and promote a culture of safety: national government practitioners, local government staff, academia, civil society organizations, private institutions, etc.

Limited resources, big impact

Within 9 months, the Philippines was able to create almost 500 kilometres of bike lanes along national roads. This multi-sectoral effort went a long way in raising the profile of cycling as a reliable and sustainable form of transport. Importantly, it also empowered and inspired local governments and communities to add on to the new network by building their own bike lanes.
Almost 65% of respondents from a post-construction survey said that they used active transport and light mobility vehicles (LMVs) more once the cycling infrastructure was introduced.

Almost 65% of respondents from a post-construction survey said that they used active transport and light mobility vehicles (LMVs) more once the cycling infrastructure was introduced.


As the cycling network grows in the Philippines, healthcare workers like April now have another safe and healthy way to get around.

“Even after the lockdown, I will still use my bike to go to work and go home,” April said, “because I believe I will not only help lessen the pollution, but I will also help myself get fit.”

With the continued partnership and support of communities and civil society, governments can continue to invest in active mobility infrastructure—and many others can join April on this journey toward healthier cities and communities.

[Source: World Bank, 19 Jan 2022]


NZ Accession to MARPOL Annex VI

Update from MoT

Previously we signalled that New Zealand would become a party to MARPOL Annex VI by the end of 2021; however, this has been delayed due to COVID-19 disruptions. We now expect New Zealand will become a party to MARPOL Annex VI in February/March 2022.

MARPOL Annex VI will come into effect in New Zealand three months after accession. This means the requirements will start to apply from May/June 2022. From that time ship operators must comply with some of the requirements, such as the fuel requirements; however, it is planned the survey and certification requirements will commence January 2023. This will provide additional time for ship operators to meet the requirements of MARPOL Annex VI that must be met before the Annex VI certificates can be issued.

We are currently developing detailed guidance to support ship operators to understand the requirements of MARPOL Annex VI. This will be published in February/March 2022 alongside the full text of the finalised Marine Protection Rules Part 199: Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships.

For more information about the cause of the delay, please see the announcement from the Ministry of Transport.

NZ Wildfire Guidelines 2021

Just before Christmas, the Ministry of Health published a new guide for public health units on addressing public health hazards during wildfires:

     Response to Wildfires – Guidelines for Public Health Units

This guide includes the (recently) harmonised Australian PM2.5 hourly guidelines as well as brief advice on face masks which are a hot topic now that the Omicron variant has found New Zealand.

As an aside, readers wanting more advice on masks are directed here:

     A Guide to Buying P2, or Equivalent, Respirators for use in the Australian & New Zealand Work Environment

The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill

All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.

[Source: Wired]

100 Most Influential People of 2021 List: Lidia Morawska

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists overestimated the potential for contaminated surfaces to spread the virus, and underestimated how far the aerosol particles that people exhaled could travel and remain infectious. It caused officials to badly misjudge the risks in closed spaces where there was poor air circulation. Through the fog of this viral war, some scientists saw clearly. Lidia Morawska stands out among peers for her work in recognizing the importance of aerosol transmission and marshaling the data that would convince the World Health Organization and other authoritative bodies to do the same. She assembled a team of more than 200 scientists and public-health authorities to recognize the role of aerosols in spreading SARS-CoV-2 and change how the risk of contracting the virus was measured and lessened.

Her advocacy helped change practices everywhere from schools to workplaces, making these environments safer for more people around the world.

Lidia’s original paper, published online on 10 April 2020 (yes, you read the year right), is available here.

Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality

[Source: Time, The 100 Most Influential People of 2021]