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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Mar 2, 2019

Walkable cities

According to 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. 93% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world's vehicles. These injuries, while predictable and preventable, cause at least 3% 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 that drivers using mobile phones, regardless if 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 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 centres.

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

But what is more interesting is that the vision of incorporating pedestrian infrastructure in 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-km bypass road 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 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-km road project which will start at Jct. Bago Aplaya (south) to Sta. Ana Wharf toward R. Castillo Street.

In Visayas, pedestrians are also provided the option to bike or walk along the Bacolod Negros Occidental Economic Highway, a 21.8-km road that would 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 km 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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