By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House of Representatives has transmitted to the Senate the proposed “Minimum Overtaking of Cyclists Distance Act” for its action.
House Bill 8911, principally authored by ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, was transmitted to the Upper Chamber on February 6, two days before Congress adjourned session to pave way for the election campaign.
On February 4, the House of Representatives unanimously approved HB 8911 on third and final reading, with 178 votes to make cycling safer throughout the country.
The bill mandates a minimum overtaking distance of 1.5 meters between a motor vehicle and a bicycle or its operator.
HB 8911 provides that the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is travelling in the same direction shall maintain a minimum overtaking distance of 1.5 meters between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its cyclist.
It tasks the Department of Transportation-Land Transportation Office (DOTr-LTO), to be the lead implementing arm of the proposed Act.
Violators of the proposed Act shall face the following penalties: P5,000 fine for the first offense; P10,000 fine for the second offense; P15,000 fine and suspension of driver’s license for three months for the third offense; and P20,000 fine and revocation of driver’s license for the fourth offense.
The bill allows the DOTr to raise the fines once every five years in the amount not exceeding 10 percent of the existing rates sought to be increased which shall take effect only upon publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.
The foregoing penalties shall be imposed without prejudice to other liabilities under the Revised Penal Code or any special law arising out or occasioned by any violation of the minimum overtaking distance set, the bill said.
The DOTr-LTO, in coordination with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), MMDA, PNP, and private agencies and organizations shall undertake a nationwide information, education and communication campaign for a period of six months from the effectivity of the Act.
The DOTr-LTO shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of the Act.
“Mandating a minimum overtaking distance is one way of protecting cyclists and other road users, and encourage more people to take up cycling, whether for commuting, exercise, or leisure,” Tinio said.
He laments that due to lack or absence of cycling-friendly infrastructure throughout the country, cyclists are forced to journey side-by-side with motor vehicles, exposing them daily to the risk of serious or fatal accidents.
“According to the Metro Manila Development Authority, more than 900 persons — nearly three cyclists and other road users per day – were reported to have been involved in accidents in Metro Manila in 2015,” Tinio said.