Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Seemingly minor violations that affect traffic and safety

The following photo shows one of the many minor violations that happen everyday along many roads and particularly at intersections. Motorcyclists and drivers frequently occupy spaces that are supposed to be clear of vehicles. The motorcycles and AUV below occupy the pedestrian crossing that is typically space for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the intersection. Both vehicles also are encroaching upon the intersection’s yellow box, which can be risky given that the intersection is signalised and other vehicles are given the right of movement according to the cycle settings of the intersection.

Encroach intersection

This and others like it are what seems to be minor incidents but in truth have a combining or cumulative effect on traffic streams that contribute to congestion as well as having implications on road safety. Pedestrians and cyclists are forced to go around the vehicles blocking their paths, likely putting them in harm’s way. Other motorists try to avoid these errant vehicles, which, like in the photo, may be blocking the path of vehicles proceeding towards the intersection leg to the right that is hidden in the picture. Motorists doing this must be apprehended by traffic officers/enforcers as these are clear violations of traffic rules. If one is to promote discipline among road users, then it should start with minor violations that tend to be disregarded by traffic enforcers.

Evidence from Montreal: Building bike lanes to reduce car use

I just wanted to share this article showing evidence of car use reduction (and therefore, car traffic along roads) with the provision of bicycle lanes.

Building Bike Lanes Really Does Get More People Out of Their Cars

The article though cautions readers against generalising or assuming great improvements. Some figures mentioned in the article including the following (I took the liberty of copying and pasting):

  • “A 10% increase in bike accessibility resulted in only a 3.7% increase in ridership.”
  • “…cycling infrastructure also reduced greenhouse gas emissions from cars by 1.7%, a reduction equivalent to converting transit buses to hybrids and electrifying commuter trains.”

These numbers are for the case of Montreal, Canada. Not mentioned are the number of cyclists, vehicle traffic volumes and other pertinent data that are useful in analysis. The article correctly points out the importance of using science (e.g., sound analysis based on good data) in order to convince governments to put up bicycle infrastructure. I would even add that this approach should also be applicable to pedestrian facilities.

Monuments to recklessness or carelessness?

Our recent trip to a resort in Batangas required for us to take a local road that was both narrow and winding. The roadside revealed what remained of a bus that was involved in a crash not too long ago. This was a crash where many of the passengers perished. Many of the fatalities were teachers who attended a workshop held in a venue in the area.

IMG_2357Remains of the bus wreck along the local road in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas

IMG_2358From the looks of the wreck, it is difficult to assume that no one perished here. Passengers seldom wear their seat belts when riding a bus and a crash would mean passengers literally flying around inside the bus. It would have been difficult to avoid serious injury at the least for those who were in the bus. 

IMG_2359This is the scene that will greet travellers to Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas. Gruesome but it drives the point regarding road safety. The wreck serves as a strong reminder to drive safely no matter what in order to avoid such incidents.

Dang Bakal road widening in Antipolo

We go to church at the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary along Daang Bakal in Antipolo City. Quite obvious is the current road widening project being implemented along Daang Bakal. While the improvement of the road was welcome, my opinion is that  widening the 2-lane road to 4 lanes was not necessary given the traffic in the area served by the subject section (basically traffic generated by the parish and the exclusive subdivisions along the road). For one the section being widened from the intersection with the Antipolo Circumferential Road leads to a dead-end (i.e,, the gate of an exclusive subdivision). And so, traffic is generally very light along this road section

Are there plans to revive the original right of way of the old railway line but in the form of a road connecting Hinulugang Taktak to Ortigas Avenue via Valley Golf? If not, then the road widening of Daang Bakal is unnecessary. Even if the justification were for cyclists, I would argue that perhaps you only needed to have paved shoulders that need not have the same width as the carriageway lane. Following are photos of Daang Bakal featuring the road widening project.

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From the photos, it is clear that a lot of trees have been cut in order to make space for the additional lanes for the road. While most of these trees are too close to the original carriageway, there were many that I felt didn’t need to be cut if a narrow shoulder was deemed sufficient for the road. Traffic in the photos are typical peak period traffic on a Sunday when the road carries the most traffic in a day due mainly to churchgoers.

Standards for integrated railways in the Philippines

With the recent pronouncements about railway projects in Metro Manila including the ongoing Line 2 Extension to Masinag, the impending construction of Line 7 (i.e., along Commonwealth and Regalado Avenues and Quirino Highway) and the proposal for a Line 4 (Diliman, Quezon City to Lerma, Manila), it becomes more imperative to have integrated railway infrastructure including and especially common stations where lines intersect and common specifications guided by standards or guidelines. Do we have such or has there been work towards their formulation in the past? The simple answer to that question is yes. But then we have to qualify that affirmative response because while there was a study a decade and a half ago, the outcomes of that study, which is a comprehensive take on all aspects of railway systems was never formally adopted (again?) by the Philippines.

The following link is for the Executive Summary of the “Study on Integrated Railway Network for Metro Manila (SIRNMM) completed in 2001.

2001 – SIRNMM – Summary

Perhaps there is a need to revisit the outcomes of this study? This can serve as a good platform from which updated guidelines and standards can be developed for a more harmonious development of railways systems not just for Metro Manila but for other cities as well.

On weather and traffic

With the onset of the wet season, heavy rains have reminded us how terrible commuting can be especially in Metro Manila where public transport services are much wanting in terms of quality. But whether you are driving or riding, using private or public transport, there is always something about the rains that make you feel uncomfortable. Metro Manila’s roads are becoming more and more notorious for flooding and I guess that goes the same with many other roads in other cities as well. Drainage is almost automatically blamed but closer inspection of the cause of flooding shows even the newest drainage systems being unable to accommodate rain waters in part due to their being clogged (by garbage, mud and/or other stuff) or having inferior design for intense rains. With extreme weather now becoming the norm, that is not a good thing especially with what is perceived as poor maintenance of our waterways and road drainage systems. Just look at how overpasses get flooded everytime the rain pours; causing traffic congestion that could have been averted if only we can weather-proof our roads to a certain extent.

Heavy rains Santolan

Low visibility even during the middle of the day plus slippery pavement surfaces due to heavy rains can cause congestion and lead to unsafe conditions for traveling. The latter outcome is even worse during the night and, in higher elevations, when you have fog to add to the complexity of the environment you are traveling along. Aside from travel time, nothing more serious like life or limb can be lost by practicing safe driving whenever it is raining hard. That includes slowing down, turning on your lights (for visibility) and refraining from undertaking risky maneuvers. Pedestrians and cyclists, too, need to take more caution knowing the higher risks they face or are exposed to when traveling under inclement weather conditions.

Mobility for persons with disabilities

I saw these two people traveling along Marcos Highway just after the intersection with Imelda Avenue. I think they came from Tahanang Walang Hagdanan in Cainta. The tricycle is actually modified to allow for a person with disability to operate the motor vehicle. The side car is also customized to carry a person on wheelchair. Note that back of the sidecar? It is actually a ramp that is locked when traveling but can be lowered for wheelchairs to roll-on or roll-off. Since there are two persons on the vehicle, the driver’s wheelchair is seen folded and loaded in front of the lady on her wheelchair.

PWD vehicle

Such vehicles allow PWDs to be more mobile. Unfortunately, most public utility vehicles do not have features to allow wheelchair-bound people to ride on them. Such features may be seen in city buses in more progressive cities including those in Japan, Europe and the US. Trains can easily accommodate PWDs including those on wheelchairs as their floors are the same level as the station platforms and there is space inside the cars for PWDs. While access for PWDs is already contained in Philippine laws, there is still much to be done in terms of implementing provisions of such laws especially with respect to road-based public transportation.