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Walkable Cities

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Originally published in Night Owl: A Nationbuilder's Manual

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes while at least 20 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result. More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users — pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Ninety-three percent of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60 percent of the world’s vehicles. These injuries, while predictable and preventable, cause at least three percent of their countries’ gross domestic product.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020. WHO promotes the “Safe System approach,” a methodology that accounts for all the road users’ vulnerability, including human error. For example the study noted that drivers using mobile phones, whether hands-free or hand-held, are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not using a mobile phone. It also advocated for the construction of footpaths, cycling lanes, safe crossing points, and other traffic calming measures.

In the Philippines, it can easily be conceded that development has been mainly to achieve a certain level of scientific efficiency in car mobility. Unfortunately, pedestrians have not been the priority in landscaping most of the urban centers. 

Antique Esplanade

In an effort to provide a safer road for cyclists and pedestrians, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has opened a separate 5.58-kilometer bicycle lane facility along the stretch of Laguna Lake Highway in Bicutan, Taguig City on February 7, 2019, only three months after the completion of the Laguna Lake Highway.

But what is more interesting is that the vision of incorporating pedestrian infrastructure on public roads is not only happening in Manila, but also in other places in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

For instance, the Cagayan de Oro (CDO) Coastal Road, a 12.77-kilometer bypass road, which is expected to ease access in the eastern side of Macajalar Bay in CDO, Gingoog in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Caraga, is also built with bicycle lanes. The road project, which starts from Brgy. Gusa in the eastern side all the way to the western side in Brgy. Igpit, Opol, in Misamis Oriental, is expected to reduce travel time from the Laguindingan Airport to the city proper to only 20 minutes.

Another project in Mindanao, which would include bicycle lanes would be the Davao City Coastal Road, an 18-kilometer road project, which will span from Jct. Bago Aplaya (south) to Sta. Ana Wharf toward R. Castillo Street.

Davao City Coastal Road

In the Visayas, pedestrians are also provided the option to bike or walk along the Bacolod Negros Occidental Economic Highway, a 21.8-kilometer road that will serve as an alternate route passing the interior area of Bacolod City leading to Bacolod Silay Airport and other tourist destinations in the area.

The Leyte Tide Embankment project, a 27.3-kilometer flood control project from Brgy. Diit, Tacloban City to Brgy. Ambao, Tanauan, Leyte, built to protect coastal communities from the destructive effects of storm surges, will also include the provision of pedestrian infrastructure.

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