Elle Guison

Published: June 3, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — A move banning e-bike on national roads faced backlash in the Philippines, with advocacy groups calling for more inclusive and sustainable transport policies. 

“Everybody should have a right to our roads, and our government should be able to design roads that are inclusive, with space for everybody,” said Ira Cruz, director of AltMobility PH in an interview with Climate Tracker Asia.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) banned e-bikes and other light electric vehicles from national roads in the capital region on April 15, citing safety concerns and traffic management needs.”

MMDA Acting Chairman Romando Artes said that the decision was based on data suggesting that e-bikes contribute to road accidents. 

However, a review of MMDA’s data by the Move As One Coalition (MAOC) found that only 2.05% of road crashes were from bike, e-bike, and pedicab accidents. 

Meanwhile, Statista’s data in 2023 showed that 54% of road accidents were caused by cars, with light electric vehicles only accounting for 1.66%. 

Cruz stressed that MMDA should focus on reducing car speeds if road safety is the primary concern.

E-bikes as climate solution

In the Philippines, e-bikes have become a form of personal transportation to avoid commuting. (Elle Guison)

Instead of banning e-bikes, advocacy groups are pushing for the use of such and other light electric vehicles as a sustainable and environment-friendly form of transport.

“In terms of carbon emission, bicycles, being human-powered, would be the most sustainable form of transportation in the sense that it’s clean energy or cleanest form of energy if you don’t factor in the production of the bicycles,” Cruz said.

He also argued that MMDA’s ban on light electric vehicles contradicts the objectives of issuances like the Republic Act No. 11697 or the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA).

The law aims to “provide an enabling environment for the development of electric vehicles, including options for micro mobility as an attractive and feasible mode of transportation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

Road transport accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the Philippines, the transportation sector emitted 35.42 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2022. 

In April, MAOC sent a position paper to MMDA, arguing that the e-bike ban fosters “increased ownership and utilization of private vehicles further exacerbating air and noise pollution, urban heat, and climate change.”

The organization also noted that it discourages the public from using cleaner and more sustainable transport modes, such as e-bikes and e-trikes.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), in a March 2024 report, highlighted the high emissions-reduction potential of replacing car trips with e-bike trips, particularly in areas with high car ownership.

ITDP estimated that around 1.25 billion e-bikes are needed to achieve a shift that would yield roughly 400 megatons (MT) of annual emissions reductions. This translates to a need for over 1 billion additional e-bikes globally by 2050.

Inclusive infrastructure

Beyond promoting light electric vehicles, advocacy groups proposed solutions that target infrastructure issues. 

“The government should focus more of its efforts in creating more inclusive streets such that there is space for all road users, most especially the majority,” Cruz said.

He also said that alternate routes for e-bikes and e-trikes should not be an option, and that the government must shift its mindset from a car-centric approach.

Meanwhile, MAOC demanded robust policy reforms and substantial investments in physical infrastructure that will protect all types of road users