Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: March 2022

On asphalt overlays and opportunities to rationalize pavement markings

Entire road sections along my commuting routes have had recent asphalt overlays or are being prepared for it. This is part of the national government’s regular maintenance program for roads implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Newly asphalted pavement along the eastbound section of Ortigas Avenue Extension – can you guess how many lanes will fit here?

The previous photo was taken one week ago. This is what the section looks like after the contractor restored the pavement markings. I say restore because these are practically the same 3 lanes prior to the asphalt overlay to the rigid pavement structure.

Pavement marking delineating the traffic lanes, median and gutter

I wonder if the DPWH included bike lanes when they contacted the asphalt overlay and pavement markings for this road. There was none before and the new overlay presented a blank slate to which Class III bike lanes could at least have been provided. There is already an increasing number of bike-to-work traffic along Ortigas Ave. Ext. and the Manila East Road, which connects the large towns of Rizal and serves as one of the major arterials connecting the Province of Rizal to Metro Manila (the other being Marcos Highway).

Asphalt overlays like this provide opportunities to rationalize road space through adjustments to the pavement markings. Granted that there’s significant bus and truck traffic along this road, it is still possible to allocate or at least delineate 1.5m to 2m for cyclists. That should also help in making motorists aware of bike traffic and in the long run influence behavior towards safer travels for all road users.

Some old drawing tools for clothoids

I took some photos of old (vintage if you prefer) drawing tools that I have at our laboratory at the university. We found this in the storage many years ago and people seem to have forgotten about them. Instead of heading for storage or being forgotten or worse, thrown away, we decided to keep them at our laboratory mainly to show our students how certain highway or street curves were drawn in the ‘old days’. I am currently the custodian of this and another set that I have kept at my other office at the civil engineering building.

The wooden box is at my office at UP Diliman

The sign basically translates to clothoid drawing tools made by a company based in Setagaya in Tokyo. There are 14 instruments in the box for clothoid parameter values of A = 20m to 350m.

Opening the box shows slots holding instruments for drawing clothoids or spiral curves

Some of the instruments from the case – the large one on top is for A = 300m and 350m (scale 1:1000)

Comparison of size of instruments for (top) A = 60m and 65m, and (bottom) A = 30m and 35m (scale 1:1000)

Instrument for A = 30m and 35m (Scale 1:1000)

A protractor came along with the set but I assume other instruments such as a compass were used in drawing/drafting the curves.

I shall take photos of the other set when I get to visit the other office. These will be for records purposes as well as for posterity. These are practically museum pieces that are now perhaps rarely if even used.

On the future on urban transportation

I’m sharing the following article on the idea of mobility hubs in cities:

Descant, S (March 16, 2022) “Are mobility hubs the future of urban transportation?” Government Technology, [Last accessed: 3/18/2022]

To quote from the article:

“As cities reimagine transportation and transit, they’re turning toward innovative attempts to bring multiple modes together, with the essential aim of making it easier for residents and others to choose a mode of travel other than the single-occupancy car.”

Though I support this idea, I think it only implies that housing issues are already covered. In reality, there should be clear-cut and simultaneous initiatives covering both housing and transport. In Metro Manila’s case, for example, the sprawl is over a much wider area and covers at least 4 provinces surround the metropolis where people have chosen to settle/reside due to the high and rising cost of housing in the MM. While the example of Tokyo and its railway lines may be used as inspiration, it will take a lot for Metro Manila to have such a transit network to carry so many people around MM+.

Trivia: Why are school buses yellow?

Have you every wondered why are school buses yellow? Of course, the main reason is safety related. Here is a short article on why the color was chosen for school buses:

Ganninger, D. (August 20, 2020) “Why are school buses yellow?”, [Last accessed: 3/20/2022]

To quote from the article:

“The original color was called National School Bus Chrome but has since changed since school bus chrome contained lead in the pigment. The color was adopted because black lettering was easy to see in the early morning hours and during the late afternoon. Another reason it was chosen was because the color yellow is seen quickly in someone’s peripheral vision.”

Articles on air crash incidents

I posted earlier this month about references online on railway crash incidents. This time, I am sharing a site where you can find articles about air crash incidents. There are many interesting articles here including some of the most well-known incidents that involved pilot error, weather-related crashes and those involving aircraft defects or issues.  There are also articles here about terror attacks that led to air crashes.

I have shared a few of his articles before including one on the Concorde crash and another about the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. I have found these articles to be very interesting as the manner of writing is investigative and evidence-based. I have myself been in several near incidents, which I have related in this blog.

Driver’s license renewal at LTO

I recently renewed my driver’s license and unlike previous renewal applications, this was probably the smoothest and fastest. Allow me to share my experience in renewing my driver’s license with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) here.

This is the process I went through:

  1. Registered online for the renewal using the LTO’s portal.
  2. Took the online examination required for renewal. [There are educational material online for those who think they need a refresher. You will need to get a 75% on the exam – 30/40 for non-professionals or 45/60 for professionals – to pass it.]
  3. Passing the online exam, I downloaded the result and printed it to bring to an LTO branch.
  4. Went to the nearest LTO branch to have a medical exam. There I learned I could go through the remaining steps after my medical as they noted that I already passed the online exam and had the print out with me.
  5. I submitted the medical exam and online test result, and was given a number.
  6. I paid for my license renewal transaction and was asked to wait for my name to be called for the photo and biometrics.
  7. I was called for the photo and biometrics and waited a few minutes for my license to be printed and released to me.

I understand that there will be variations to the steps I listed above. I originally thought you would have to get your medical exam results emailed to you and that you will have to upload it to the portal before you actually go to an LTO branch for your photo and biometrics to be taken and the processing and release of the license. All in all, it took me under 2 hours for everything even as I had to queue for the medical and the license renewal transaction payment.

Here are some screenshots of the LTO’s portal:

This is where you register or login

Once logged-in, you see this menu for whatever your purpose is such as licensing or checking if you have violations on record. 

My records are clean!

And I have no unsettled or history of violations on record. You will need to check your violations history as a clean slate in the last 5 years (since the last renewal) means you are qualified for the 10-year driver’s license. Otherwise, you will only be renewed for 5 years.

Here’s a screenshot of licensing-related transactions. Unfortunately, the system prevents me from proceeding as I have already renewed my license, and I didn’t want to click on any buttons as it may trigger an unwanted transaction on my part.

Kudos to LTO for improving their system and process. There are definitely other areas for improvement but it is good to know they’re working on the improvements.

On bicycle economics in the Philippines

I am sharing this link to a newly minted reference that should be useful to policy or decision-makers (yes, that includes politicians) in justifying bicycle facilities including bike lanes around the country.

There’s been a dearth in local references and this should suffice for now pending more in-depth studies on the benefits of cycling and related-facilities and programs in the Philippines. Note that while the reference mentions certain calculations and unit costs, it would be better to have the actual numbers from the various LGUs that have constructed bike lanes and facilities, and implementing bike programs and projects. Quezon City and Mandaue City, for example, should have the numbers that can serve as initial data for compiling and eventual publication of unit costs per type or design of bike lanes or bikeways. LGUs and national government should gather, process and make use of such data in aid of bike facilities and infrastructure development that will attract people away from private motor vehicle use while reinforcing both active and public transport mode shares.

Is the concept of induced demand a hard sell?

Here’s a quick share of an article on ‘induced demand’ particularly why it appears to be a hard sell:

Blumgart, J. (February 28, 2022) “Why the concept of induced demand is a hard sell,” Governing, [Last accessed: 3/8/2022]

To quote from the article:

“Transportation experts say that the way to defeat induced demand, and actually ease traffic, would be to price roadways through tolls and congestion fees. But such alternatives are not popular. It’s hard to imagine running a political campaign on such a promise, as opposed to pledging an answer that looks free and easy… “Highway expansion is an attractive project regardless of your political orientation or what the state of the economy is,” says Thigpen. “There’s always a good argument for why we should be expanding highways. We need more jobs, or we need to unlock economic opportunity. There’s always a good political argument in favor of that.”

That last statement there relating highway or road expansion to politics is relevant everywhere. In our case in the Philippines, politicians are perceived to be very conservative and the type to use road projects as accomplishments. They are not as progressive as politicians abroad who may have the backgrounds and/or advocacies relating to sustainable transport to pursue the more difficult programs and projects needed improve the transport system. Instead, most are content with projects that they can put their name on and claim as hard accomplishments. Many of their constituents appear to agree. And agencies like the DPWH are only too happy to support this never-ending road construction and widening projects with the length of roads and the number of lanes added being their metrics for success. Of course, these (e.g., understanding and how to address induced demand, performance metrics, etc.) need to change if we really want to transform our transportation system towards something more efficient for everyone’s benefit.

Traffic along EDSA? Can we still widen this road? No, we can’t so we need something better than being dependent on cars. Incidentally, MMDA is planning to bring back motorcycle lanes along EDSA. Currently there are also bike lanes along either side of this road; a product of the pandemic that is now under threat of being removed.
Morning rush traffic along Commonwealth Avenue prior to the MRT 7 construction. What used to be 10 lanes per direction has been reduced but we still don’t know if Line 7’s eventual operation will make a dent on this congestion.

Take a hike or a walk?

Here’s an interesting article calling for people to go out and spend some time with nature.

The prescriptions mentioned are not at all new, content-wise but the article does mention that people tend to follow prescriptions from their doctors. Perhaps the prescription will be treated or perceived as a more serious matter compared to verbal ones that are interpreted as suggestions and not really all that serious? No matter, the important thing is to be active and keep walking, hiking, jogging or cycling.

The UP Diliman campus’ Academic Oval, along which many people walk or jog in the mornings or afternoons. Biking is currently prohibited along the central loop road of the campus.

Compilation of railway incidents

I found this page on Medium that’s features railways incidents (e.g., derailments, crashes, etc.). It is a good resource or reference for railway safety since the articles provide details about each incident. The writing style is investigative so they make for engaging reads:

There’s another site about air crashes that I will also share later.