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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When Sidewalks Fail, Give Us Back Our Roads!


Wazzup Pilipinas!
"A group of Filipinos, including children and students, on Monday asked the Supreme Court to compel the government to implement a road-sharing scheme, saying that practically all the roads in the country are given to just less than 2 percent of the population that owns motor vehicles." - Inquirer.net
The walk lane, or what we call sidewalk, is important for the safety and convenience of the people who opt to walk on the streets. The reason why less and less people are walking is because there are really no suitable sidewalk available on the lengthy roads of the Metro. Either there is no sidewalk at all, or there will always be something blocking or preventing us to go from point to the next - vendors, PUV terminals, "tambays", parked vehicles, dogs (and even chickens) tied to posts, etc.

This is the same problem as the absence of pathways for the disabled on wheelchair. Iimagine how harder it is for them. If we are already experiencing hell, then they must be twice as depressed and in agony.

The very small percentage of the population are the kings of the road. There is not much room for even bikers (not the arrogant motor-bikers who annoyingly sway from left-to-right and wouldn't stick in just one lane, but the ones who prefer to ride bicycles) and live a healthier life.

Wikipedia reports that there are 535 cycle-share schemes in 49 countries, employing more than half a million bikes worldwide. Cycling is no longer just for a minority of fanatics but for a healthy, efficient and sustainable mode of transport that might just be the catalyst for a 21st Century urban renaissance.

 


"Cycling offers us, for the first time in more than a century and a half, the chance to build an infrastructure that will bring with it significant public health improvements. In our auto-centric world, we have unprecedented levels of health problems – obesity, diabetes, etc – all associated with our sedentary lifestyles. Cycling should mean a fitter population and a longer life expectancy, which would take pressure off the national health service providers and bring huge economic benefits. It would of course also reduce energy consumption."

Has society been "side-swiped" by progress that many would just resort to spend hours in a gym or park instead of doing it the more logical way - exercise on their way to or from work.

But who can blame them when the roads are filled with pollution, snatchers, riding in tandem crooks, beggars, and other misfits of society.

I will rejoice when this road-sharing scheme get implemented but I believe its probably something that can only be achieved in our dreams. There's already too much traffic jams out there, and will get worst if we divide the streets. Projects like the ongoing Skyway 3 may resolve it a little, but the Metro is just way too overpopulated with vehicles. Smoke-belchers are still out there, yet the MMDA, PNP, LTFRB, and everyone else concerned, just goes from one big project to the next without even seeing full completion of one.

Most of us are "ningas-kugon" implementers that are only aggressive during the first weeks, then the motivation dies down, and eventually gets forgotten. Only to be revisited again when an incident happens.

Our roads are indeed not safe for pedestrians and bicyclists, but this proposal or demand for the roads remains an  idealistic citizen concern. Let us see how these supposed to be "wise men" in the Supreme Court will treat this problem. We've seen and heard their track record, and sorry to say but it ain't so pretty.

We long for someone, or some group, who would be able to combine new transportation methods that encourage the principles of a healthy life style with traditional roads can raise land values, attract investment and activate the urban environment. We need someone who could lay the ideological foundation to change our cities for the better.


 *References and photo credits : Inquirer.net, Huffington Post, etc.



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