I friend recently posted on the pedestrianisation of Intramuros and I commented that the walled city that used be equated to Manila should be a prime candidate for initiatives on pedestrianisation. Among the challenges, however, for any project that seeks to encourage walking by reclaiming roads and other spaces for pedestrians in the walled city would be the pedicabs. These are non-motorised three-wheelers that proliferate in Intramuros. There are just too many of these vehicles going around the area. I have mentioned these vehicles in past articles on some streets in the walled city including Calle Real del Palacio, Muralla Street, and Solana Street.
A city that can be used as a ‘good practice’ reference is Vigan City in the province of Ilocos Sur. Many parts of Vigan City are already pedestrian-friendly. In fact, Crisologo Street, which famously represents this city recognised as a UN Heritage Site is off-limits to motorised transport. However, the issue with Vigan is the proliferation of motorized tricycles. There also seems to be an oversupply of these tricycles that many continuously go around the city looking for passengers. The noise and emissions from these roaming tricycles alone contribute to negate part of the attraction of this Heritage City.
Baguio City can be transformed into a walkable city and focus should be on the iconic Session Road where small businesses including restaurants and shops once thrived. I say ‘once’ because the establishments along Session Road have experienced a decline during the past years since a major retail company constructed and started operating a huge mall near one end of Session Road. So much for the small city feel of Baguio and the local shops and restaurants that have suffered from the big business concept brought in by the mall.
In Makati City, the Ayala CBD has been pedestrian-friendly for quite some time now. People-centered facilities include underpasses for crossing major roads like Ayala Avenue and an elevated walkway connecting office buildings all the way to the Greenbelt mall. Unfortunately, these pedestrian-friendly features are limited to the CBD and
In Taguig City, the Bonifacio Global City is a good example where sidewalks are wide enough and there are pedestrian friendly malls like the High Street where people are prioritized over cars. Crossing the streets, however, can be very dangerous at BGC and traffic enforcers need to do more serious enforcing in order to manage speeds and aggressive driving by motorists in BGC. There are already incidences being shared on social media of pedestrians being hit by speeding vehicles or those whose drivers simply don’t give way especially when turning at corners.
In Quezon City, there are few areas that can be regarded as pedestrian-friendly. Among these are the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, whose core is closed to motorised traffic during Sundays. There are initiatives for making Katipunan Avenue more pedestrian-friendly. However, these initiatives seem to be still far from being implemented on the southbound side of Katipunan where plenty of establishments do not have adequate parking and there are practically no sidewalks for people to walk on. This is the side where there used to be a service road that had to be sacrificed more than a decade ago when the MMDA got engrossed with a flawed traffic scheme.
What cities or streets would be your candidates for pedestrianisation?