Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has congratulated the organizers and honorees of the first-ever "Bayanihan sa Daan" Awards, also known as the Philippine Walkable and Bikeable Communities Awards, for their efforts to promote healthy and environment-friendly communities.

Paje, himself a strong supporter of encouraging walking and biking, said the newly organized award-giving body would help increase public awareness on the benefits of promoting non-motorized modes of transportation.

"The benefits of encouraging walking and biking cannot be overstated. They include improved health and environmental sustainability, and reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels," the environment chief pointed out.

Organized by Road Sharing Movement led by noted environmentalist Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr. and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, the Bayanihan sa Daan (cooperative heroism) recognizes pioneering local government units and "thought leaders" from across the country for their contribution in making communities more walkable and bicycle-friendly.

The award was co-organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Transportation and Communications, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The first set of awardees was recognized during simple rites held in Malacanang last week.

As part of the ongoing effort, Paje said the DENR is looking into the inclusion of bike lanes as a requirement for issuance of environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to new subdivision or housing developments.

“We are proposing for the construction of a one-meter sidewalk and a one-meter bike lane or a portion of road space devoted to non-motorized transport, greening initiative before an ECC is issued to any new road project. This will apply to all ECCs to be granted for new subdivision projects,” Paje explained.

According to Oposa, Bayanihan sa Daan is a unique Filipino approach to transport revolution, urban sanity and the climate crisis.

This year’s recipients of the award were the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Vigan, Marikina and Pasig, and their leaders.

“People learn by example and these leaders have set their examples. These are the people who went out of their way to change society’s behavior. They have to be recognized for their courage, boldness and their efforts in pushing for urban sanity,” Oposa said.

Cebu City was recognized for initiating a road-sharing breakthrough known as the Green Loop Experiment on September 28, 2014. On October 29, the city council also approved a bike lane ordinance, also known as the Tindak Sugbo Lanes Ordinance.  It also provides for the creation of a board that would identify the roads for shared use of bikes and pedestrianized vehicles.

Iloilo City was also an honoree because of its path-breaking initiative to create a beautiful and one-of-a-kind lateral park known as Esplanade of Iloilo, and for building safe bike lanes and walkways along its diversion and circumferential roads.

Marikina City was hailed for having taken the trailblazing initiative to put up the country’s first organized bike lanes.

Pasig City was chosen as among the awardees due to its highly acclaimed Carless Sunday Program and other non-motorized initiatives such as the Bike to Work Loan, Bike to Earn Loan and Bike for Life, which are soft programs with very little cost but with great socio-economic and environmental benefits for today’s communities.

Vigan was also a recipient because it was the first Philippine city to completely pedestrianize an entire street, which is Calle Crisologo.

Bayanihan sa Daan was made possible with the help of the offices of Senators Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano, the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development, Center for International Environmental law, Partnership for Clean Air, Clean Air Asia, National Bicycle Organization, Share the Road Movement, Firefly Brigade, Inclusive Mobility, Environmental Law Society of San Beda College, and the civil society.