Driving home after our office’s Christmas Party, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in illuminations between sections of Marcos Highway from Santolan in Pasig City until Masinag in Antipolo City. The stretch from Santolan until Sta. Lucia Mall is relatively dark with the only light coming from vehicles or the establishments along the roadside. The vicinity of the LRT 2 Santolan Station benefits from the lighting of the elevated station, the pedestrian overpass and the medium-rise residential development nearby. It is actually quite dark right after the LRT 2 Station where vehicles stand along the roadside waiting for passengers coming out of the trains terminating at station. Some sections benefit from the presence of 24-hour gas stations and the Robinson’s and Sta. Lucia Malls near the intersection with Imelda Avenue. But for most sections, it is quite dark, which tends to discourage walking and cycling along the highway. The photo below that I quickly took with my phone pretty much describes the lighting conditions along Marcos Highway along a section that’s supposed to be a shared responsibility among the Cities of Pasig and Marikina. There are lamp posts along both sides of the road, courtesy of the rehabilitation works for Marcos Highway that was completed earlier this year. But all seem to be switched off.
Meanwhile, quite noticeable is the illuminated stretch from Imelda Avenue to Masinag, where Marcos Highway intersects with Sumulong Highway. Lights from the lamp posts along both sides of the highway are all switched on, giving travelers (motorists, pedestrians and cyclists) the benefit of a well-lighted facility through which they could travel safely, at least from the perspective of illumination. One can actually turn off his headlights (though I don’t recommend it) and you won’t really notice the difference because of the lights from the lamp posts. The following photo is another quick shot taken right after the U-turn slot across from the Burger King branch along the highway. The section is within the limits of the Municipality of Cainta and further on, the City of Antipolo, both in Rizal Province and technically outside Metro Manila.
It has already been established that poorly lighted roads lead to road crashes even as it has been established that nighttime crash rates are higher than daytime rates (AASHTO, 2003). There is also evidence that fixed-source lighting can reduce the incidence of crashes particularly along urban streets where there are many intersections and major arterials such as Marcos Highway. In the Philippine setting, illumination also enhances safety and security for pedestrians and cyclists and would definitely encourage the development of a culture of walking. In the case of Marcos Highway, there are already pedestrian and cycling lanes separate from the carriageway. However, these are poorly illuminated along significant sections such as the Santolan to Imelda sections where perhaps people can have the option to walk to and from the LRT station. They are discouraged though because of the risks associated with dark places and so end up waiting for a jeepney ride instead of walking what is actually an acceptable (walkable) distance. Perhaps Pasig and Marikina, two cities currently advocating walking and cycling, should look into this issue in coordination with the DPWH, which has jurisdiction over the national highway. If Rizal’s Antipolo and Cainta can do it, I don’t see why Marikina and Pasig can’t.