By Joseph B.A. Marzan and Jennifer P. Rendon
The Iloilo City government strengthened its push to tag the city as the country’s premier “bicycle capital” with an event on Sunday as part of the annual Iloilo Bike Festival.
Iloilo City’s existing 11-kilometer bike lane system spanning the City Proper, Mandurriao, and Molo districts, was announced to be renamed as the Iloilo City Network.
Former city councilor Jay Treñas, one of the city’s bike champions, represented Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who prepared a message for the event.
The mayor’s message stated that the city as a bike capital was a testament of the city being a world-class city.
Treñas also launched a marketing campaign centered on the Iloilo City Network crafted by the Iloilo City Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) Center, aiming to invite people from all different walks of life to the city.
The campaign launch was accompanied by a short video which would be aired in different television networks and social media video platforms with the hashtag ‘#BikeKaNaman’, which is also the theme of this year’s Bike Festival.
“What does this mean for us, really? Do we expect to attract more tourists? Maybe. Will there be more bike-owning Ilonggos? Why not, and I hope so. Achieving both is good and all part of the grand plan. But the greater purpose is to make it known that Iloilo is a forward-thinking city that cares for its people, its environment, and its heritage,” the mayor’s message read.
“There used to be a time when being a progressive city necessitated having taller buildings, brighter lights, and busier people. But now progress is defined by livability and sustainability which are depicted by greener surroundings, cleaner skies, and warmer smiles. I’m sure you’ll agree that picture is very Iloilo, especially when you see it through the lens of your bike,” it also read.
Department of Tourism-Region 6 Director Cristine Mansinares congratulated the Iloilo City government and their private partners “for an excellent program that promotes wellness, sustainability, inclusiveness, and road safety.”
She said that Iloilo City as a bike capital will provide positive economic and environmental opportunities to not only to the city and province of Iloilo, but to the rest of the Western Visayas region.
“The DOT will continue to support this initiative, and I am certain that this will create more jobs, bringing more investments, and inspire more destinations. This will also allow the expansion of economic and livelihood opportunities of local government units across the Western Visayas region and harness the potential of the tourism sector as an engine for sustainable growth,” Mansinares said.
Eloisa Romero, acting head of the Marketing and Events Division of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), read TPB chief Anthonette Velasco-Allones’ message in support of the launch event.
Allones congratulated the ‘tourism prime movers of Iloilo’ for their efforts to position the city as the bike capital amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The message also lauded the city’s bike tourism efforts as part of the national government’s push for responsible tourism by aiding to bring down carbon emissions.
“Our shared endeavor to push for bike tourism directly responds to the very core of our tourist sentiments, longing for more outdoor activities in a way that also allows them to rediscover the iconic sites of the place, and in between stops or at the end of each ride, be able to experience and taste the gastronomic flavors unique to our communities,” Allones’ message read.
Iloilo City has been more known recently for its bike-friendly mobility infrastructure, including the 11-kilometer Network as well as accessible bike parking racks in many public places and government buildings.
The city has also won Gold Awards in the 2021 Mobility Awards the 2022 National Bike Lane Awards, respectively.
Iloilo City’s reputation as the country’s cycling capital further got a boost as it held the 7th Iloilo Bike Festival with bigger and grander events.
The 3-day cycling event, which ran from July 29 to 31, 2022, is considered one of the Philippine’s biggest cycling events in Iloilo City.
Among the main events included the Iloilo Bike Festival Opening Ceremonies at the Iloilo Business Park.
The 72-hectare integrated township in Mandurriao district serves as the homebase for major cycling events and feature races of the Iloilo Bike Festival.
The Tour of Iloilo Double Century Race kicked off from Megaworld Boulevard on July 30. Iloilo Business Park also hosted the Criterium Race on July 30 to 31 at Megaworld Boulevard near One Madison.
Meanwhile, young biking enthusiasts joined the Kiddie Fun Ride on July 31 at the Parksquare.
Festive Walk Iloilo mall located at the heart of Iloilo Business Park, was the venue of the Launch of the Bike Capital of the Philippines, which took place on July 31 at the mall’s indoor atrium.
Capping off the grand bike event was the Iloilo City Bike Tour Grand Fun Ride on July 31 at 4:30 PM also at the Parksquare.
Other activities lined up for guests and festival participants included a Bike Expo running at the Festive Walk Garden Atrium, where visitors can shop for bicycles, biking equipment, bike parts and accessories, and biking gears while enjoying music from talented buskers.
The Festive Walk Mall Annex Event Center also served as venue for the latest collection of remote-controlled drones, flight simulator displays and more from the Iloilo Radio Control Sports Club.
There was also a grand display of the coolest customized bikes in the city.