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Fine-tuning the motorcycle lanes

November 2011
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I tried following the motorcycle lanes along Commonwealth Avenue one weekend to see if the MMDA has been able to mark the designated lane (4th lane from the roadside) throughout the entire stretch of the highway. I was optimistic considering all the hype about the lanes but still crossed my fingers given past experiences on such schemes’ implementation in Metro Manila and other Philippine cities. I wasn’t happy with what I saw while traveling along Commonwealth, particularly at points where public utility vehicles stop to drop-off or pick-up passengers. In a previous post, I already explained that where buses, jeepneys and AUVs tend to congregate, they occupy several lanes and effectively block through traffic. Among the lanes occupied are the ones designated for motorcycles. In all my observations, traffic enforcers seem always helpless and inutile against errant motorists occupying the motorcycle lane and posing danger through their maneuvers.

Following are a few photos I took along Commonwealth to “survey” the motorcycle lanes.

Motorcycle lane along section past Toyota Commonwealth – note the “Motorsiklo” sign on the overpass indicating the lane designated for motorcycles

Motorcycle lane along section in vicinity of Diliman Prep School – the lane is identifiable by the alternating blue and white lines, as well as the sign (“Motorsiklo”) on the overpass. While motorcycles are required to use only this lane while traversing the highway, other vehicles like the taxi shown in the photo are allowed use of the lane. I believe this is something that should be discouraged as they create situations where there is a high probability of crashes occurring.

The lane disappears after the St. Peter church and there are no markings or signs that would help guide motorcyclists to stay on the lane and perhaps also guide other motorists as well against using the lane. Many motorists, especially private vehicles, seem to respect the “blue lane,” usually and consciously leaving this lane for motorcyclists. We need more of that respect and much of courtesy in our streets and highways!

Section past Sandiganbayan and approaching the Commonwealth and Fairview Markets – while some motorcycle riders can be observed as trying hard to follow the scheme, there are no markings to help guide them nor are there signs on the overpasses along the rest of the way. Perhaps the MMDA and the DPWH have not yet painted the markings or installed the signs along these sections? But then perhaps the implementation of the scheme is premature considering the lack of pertinent signs and markings?

A bit of mayhem along Commonwealth and Fairview Markets – buses and jeepneys are practically everywhere here and occupy around 4 lanes as they load/unload passengers at this very crowded area. Motorcycle riders understandably veer away from the outer lanes of Commonwealth

Section past the new rotonda along Commonwealth just before the overpass across the new Puregold branch – the highway was widened along this stretch and narrows to 3 lanes per direction after the overpass. There are no pavement markings yet for the newly added lanes and most of those for the previous lanes are already faded.

Junction of Commonwealth and Regalado – pavement markings are practically weathered and there are no indications of motorcycle lanes along these sections of Commonwealth

The formulation and implementation of motorcycle lanes along Commonwealth (and Macapagal Boulevard) are based on very good intentions (i.e., to reduce the incidence of road crashes involving motorcycles). However, the absence of pavement markings and signs to guide motorists and especially motorcyclists send the wrong signals in as far as enforcement is concerned. Add to this the serious matter of traffic management along PUV loading/unloading areas that is required to ensure that PUVs will not occupy motorcycle lanes and forcing riders to take to other lanes, thereby coming into conflict with private vehicle traveling along the inner lanes. These two issues clearly need to be addressed and fast so that the scheme can be effectively implemented throughout the entire length of Commonwealth Avenue.

The current situation pertaining to the implementation of motorcycle lanes in Metro Manila is perhaps another case where the agency implementing the scheme again “bit off more than it could chew.” As in the case of the 60 kph speed limit, effective enforcement throughout Commonwealth is limited by the availability and deployment of speed measurement equipment. As such, many vehicle still exceed 60 kph at sections where there obviously are no speed guns or radars. These situations and conditions are highly likely to lead ultimately to a ningas cogon outcome for such traffic management schemes.  Such is undesirable since motorists will only become jaded (if they are not yet at this point) about traffic management in Metro Manila and elsewhere. And yet there are already indications that, like the PUV lanes, the MMDA would eventually slack on the enforcement side after realizing it needs to employ and deploy much more trained/skilled enforcers to implement all these schemes at the same time.


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