There was a story appearing in the news recently about motorcycle riders staging a motorcade rally to bring attention to their plight in relation to the motorcycle lane along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) or Circumferential Road 4 (C-4). The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) implemented the scheme along EDSA after getting generally positive results along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City and Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City. Perhaps the thinking here was that if such a scheme succeeded in other roads, it would also succeed elsewhere. Right? – Wrong!
EDSA is always so different from may other Metro Manila roads, most definitely from Commonwealth Ave. and Macapagal Blvd. For one, EDSA carries more traffic than these two roads (combined?) and the sheer volume of private vehicles during busy times of the day cannot be handled by the lanes designated for them. The two outermost lanes of EDSA are supposed to be for the exclusive use of buses but private vehicles frequently encroach on these lanes due to the inevitable spillover from congestion. Fortunately, there is a truck ban along the highway (these generally use Circumferential Road 5) but this does not translate to less congestion as the following photos show. Commonwealth is wider than EDSA while carrying less traffic. As such, vehicles can speed up along many sections of that highway. In fact, the main problems along Commonwealth happen to be related to speeding and weaving. Macapagal has even less traffic and generally does not carry public transport. Perhaps it will carry more traffic in the future once the reclamation areas are fully developed.
Heavy traffic along EDSA at mid-afternoon – many cars encroach upon the two outermost lanes that are supposed to be for buses. The same vehicles practically occupy the lanes designated for motorcycles.
Vehicles occupying the lane designated for use by motorcycle along EDSA – note the “fine print” on the sign on the pedestrian overpass stating the lane is also for use by private vehicles. Riders are lobbying for the lane to be for their exclusive use.
The motorcycle lane proceeds through EDSA along its underpasses and overpasses – EDSA’s capacity during peak periods is not enough for cars and so they usually spill over to the bus lanes. It’s also status quo for them in as far as using the motorcycle lane is concerned, unlike in the case of Commonwealth Ave. where the wider carriageway allows for private vehicles to avoid taking the motorcycle lane.
The initial assessment we made for the motorcycle lanes along EDSA was positive and hopeful for the behavior change that it is supposed to bring about both with drivers and riders. I believe that despite the dry run and the aggressive enforcement that followed, the scheme as applied along EDSA is still very much in the “honeymoon” stage and there’s room for some adjustments here and there including some flexibility on motorcycle riders who are often forced out of the designated lane by cars. It is clear from the photos above that private cars really cannot be given too much freedom to use the motorcycle lane. Perhaps by prohibiting cars from generally using the motorcycle lane, we’ll eventually have a safer EDSA. This comes at a steep price, however, as that will be one less lane for private cars. But then again, if the objective is to discourage car use (especially the low occupancy kind) then it should be good but with the caveat that public transport services along EDSA, including the MRT running along the center of the highway, should have improved quality of service.