Caught (up) in traffic

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Microcosm of society

March 2011


As me and my colleagues crossed the street at the corner of the College of Engineering towards the Main Library grounds, we heard the distant sound of whistles of security guards posted along the Academic Oval. At first, we didn’t pay much attention even stating among ourselves that the guards may be trying to catch the attention of certain people. There are still many litterbugs on campus and there are street children often going around and trying to collect material they could sell at some junk shop. In some cases, they take whatever they find even those that are not supposed to be taken by them like scrap materials from buildings that are being constructed or renovated. These, after all, are not fair game in as far as the contractors and the university are concerned.

After we had crossed, however, the guards continued to whistle and the frequency and manner seemed to indicate urgency and not just as if they were not just trying to accost someone but were also in pursuit of someone or something. Another guard posted near the library stood up from where he was taking his lunch on a bench under the trees near the road and also started whistling. We soon saw the cause for the alarm – a black BMW 5 series was speeding counterflow along the bicycle lane.

We stopped near the Main Library kiosks to see where the BMW was heading and made our bets that it would be turning left towards the Asian Center and probably towards the exit along Magsaysay Avenue. We were not surprised when the car indeed took a left (and without signals) but towards the driveway in front of Malcolm Hall – the College of Law. I say we were not surprised because there have been many instances before this one when similar vehicles and even those with SUV escorts who have blatantly violated traffic rules and regulations inside the campus. Often, the excuse mentioned is that they were in a hurry. But then aren’t we all?

We did not see who alighted from the car (it was too far to see) but it was parked in front of Malcolm Hall so I assumed it must be a faculty member, a lecturer or a guest of that College who drove or owned the vehicle. It would also be likely that the occupant was a lawyer. This begs the question of what kinds of lawyers are teaching at the College of Law. I know this is quite a generalization and perhaps unfair to many whom I know from that college. But this simple act of violating the one-way scheme along the oval and using a lane dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists despite all the signs and the guards shouting at you, which some people (like lawyers for example) would dismiss as petty are manifestations of more serious things. And I will restrain myself from alleging what those serious things are.

If he or she was a student, then the obvious question is what kind of students do the college have these days? What kinds of lawyers are being bred by the college? And may I dare ask what kind of lawyers have been produced in the past as there are evidences (from the UP Police, the MMDA and other traffic enforcers) that the same professionals are the one most likely to argue with enforcers even when they are guilty of violating traffic rules and regulations.

It is the arrogance of such motorists that is among the common causes of road crashes and the major cause for anarchy and chaos in our roads. The example in UP only shows how far we are from the objective of instilling discipline among our motorists. That same arrogance shows, too, how we regard everyone else including the joggers, walkers, and cyclists who had to give way to a motor vehicle that intruded into their right of way and practically bulldozed its way towards its destination. For these people, it is no matter that they put the lives of people in danger by their actions. After all, they were in a hurry. I believe the pedestrians and cyclists were in no hurry. they were in no hurry to get injured or, God forbid, to die because a motorist in a luxury car had to run against the one-way flow and use road space that is dedicated for pedestrians and cyclists – most of whom happen to be students who have yet to fulfill their potentials, and hopefully for the good of this country.

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