On reducing driving and its inherent risks
Ever since the automobile was invented and eventually mass-produced, there has been an increasing risk associated with motor vehicle traffic. Laws, policies and regulations have also been influenced to favor the car rather than people. And so we now have what is termed as a car-oriented and dependent transportation system that seems so difficult to undo as most people appear to be enamored by the car. Owning a car (or even a motorcycle if you want to extend this idea of individual ownership) remains an aspiration to a lot of people.
Here is a link to the compact version of a comprehensive report by Todd Litman that presents and argues for a new paradigm where driving is considered a risk factor. There are data and a table comparing old and new traffic paradigms to help us understand the situation and what needs to be redefined or re-framed in order to achieve our safety targets or vision.
Litman, T. (October 20, 2022) “Driving as a Risk Factor: A New Paradigm,” Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/119287-driving-risk-factor-new-paradigm?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-10202022&mc_cid=beacdc2a04&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 10/28/2022]
To quote from the article:
“Safer vehicles, roads, and driving may reduce crashes but achieve few other goals, and sometimes contradict them. Transportation demand management and smart growth policies increase safety in addition to helping to achieve other planning goals, and so can be considered win-win solutions.
More comprehensive safety analysis tends to support social equity goals. Many conventional safety strategies, such as larger vehicles with more passenger protection, and wider roads with fewer intersections, tend to increase walking and bicycling risks. In contrast, lower traffic speeds, TDM, and Smart Growth tend to improve safety, mobility, and accessibility for people who cannot, should not, or prefer not to drive.”
The key takeaway here should be that people should have the option of not driving at all in order to reduce the risks associated with driving as well as reduce congestion. A more comprehensive
On modified, fossil fuel kick scooters
You’ve probably seen one of these micromobility modes but take a closer look and you will notice a more spruced-up version of what you thought was an electric kick scooter (EKS). No, this one in the photos is not electric-powered but running on an internal combustion engine. It is a modified, fossil fuel-powered scooter.
You can see the modifications on the scooter – the engine and the gas tank.
These can be hard to detect for drivers or riders and can be risky at night time when visibility is a major factor for those using these vehicles.
I’ve seen these modified scooters along my typical commuting routes. They seem to be faster than the regular EKS. They also appear to have more power for uphill or climbing as I’ve seen these having no trouble ascending to Antipolo via Sumulong Highway or Ortigas Avenue Extension. As for maneuverability, I cannot really make an assessment except for what I’ve observed. But what worries me is that there are also reckless riders of these vehicles who tend to weave in traffic whether its congested or free flowing. If it’s difficult to anticipate the movement of motorcycles and bicycles along highways and streets, it’s even more with these scooters. But before you react and say that drivers and riders need to be slowing down (and all that jazz), remember that it takes two to tango. Even if you do slow down or practice safe driving or riding, if that other person will be reckless then there will be an increased likelihood for a crash to happen.
Children’s companions to and from school
In the recent 15th National Convention on Statistics, an interesting information is about the companions of school children when going to school and coming home from school. Note the change in companions from elementary school to high school.
The data above is from Zamboanga City. Is it the same or different in other Philippine cities or municipalities?
On the future of the common auto repair shop
I saw this article on Wired about how high-tech vehicles are killing the auto repair shop. I have to agree with the observation. Perhaps it’s more imminent in the First World where newer model vehicles including electric and hybrid vehicles cannot just be repaired at a conventional auto repair shop. And they do have more of the newer vehicles as they have phased out the older ones that don’t comply with the higher standards that are now in place in terms of things like emissions and fuel consumption.
Marshall, A. (October 20, 2022) “High-Tech Cars Are Killing the Auto Repair Shop,” Wired, https://www.wired.com/story/high-tech-cars-killing-the-traditional-auto-repair-shop/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=AUTO_OTHER&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_content=WIR_daily_102122&utm_mailing=WIR_daily_102122&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=P4 [Last accessed: 10/22/2022]
To quote from the article:
“As the traditional auto repair shop disappears, so might the stereotype about the grizzled and grimy auto repair tech with a wrench in his hand. “These complexities have made it more difficult for a shop to operate if it’s not running properly—if it’s not properly funded, not properly insured, doesn’t have the correct tooling, doesn’t have the right insurance,” says Lucas Underwood, the North Carolina shop owner.”
In our case, there are still so many of the conventional vehicles operating including the locally fabricated ones using surplus engines. At least for the more basic repairs the neighborhood repair shops, the “talyers” as we call them, will survive for now and perhaps for a longer while than how it is in the First World. Even the backyard or self taught auto mechanics are trying to keep up with the electronics and many are honest enough to tell you to go to the ‘casa’ if they cannot repair your vehicle or perhaps the parts are not available at the typical auto supply shop.
Another look at the Zamboanga Airport – departure
This is another one of those late posts. I was in Zamboanga City three months ago. I had wanted to see for myself what the airport now looks like and if they were able to complete the renovations on the airport. Here are the photos I took of the departure area of the airport where most of the renovations were being done the last time we were in Zamboanga just weeks before the lockdown in March 2020.
The driveways are still the same and so is the main concourse, which is limited to VIPs. Most passengers would have to cross this area from where they alighted to get to the terminal.
Entrance to the terminal’s departure area
What used to be a crowded, hot and humid check-in area is now spacious, orderly and better-ventilated.
A general view of the check-in area of the airport
It can now accommodate more passengers and travelers will be more comfortable here compared to how it was before.
Cebu Pacific posted this for guidance of passengers in the number of baggage they are allowed to bring according to what they paid for when they bought their tickets.
Cebu Pacific’s check-in counters
PAL’s check-in counters
Entrance to the lounges – airport personnel check the passengers’ boarding passes and mark the seats on the plane to probably see who are already in the lounge and waiting for the boarding call.
Air Asia check-in counters
The shops and eateries that was in the mezzanine are no more. Like the airport in Panglao there are now fewer and limited food options at the departure lounge. Fortunately, there is a stall operated by the popular restaurant-cafe Chinito’s. They have good coffee, snacks and light meals there.
The lounge area remained the same. I did not see any additional seats or areas for departing passengers. The lighting has improved though.
There’s a separate Heroes’ Lounge for those who are from the armed forces. Zamboanga is an important post for the military and you can see drones either flying or on the ground at the air force base in Zamboanga. Andrews Air Base is just across the airport and they share the same runway.
Gate assigned to Air Asia
Gates assigned to Cebu Pacific
PAL’s gates are just beside the one assigned to Air Asia
A PAL jet preparing to load luggage and freight
Our Cebu Pacific plane uses the more passenger-friendly ramps for the forward door.
I will post more photos of airports once I am able to visit other cities once again. I am already looking forward to traveling to Cagayan De Oro via Laguindingan Airport. And perhaps my first overseas trip since December 2019. Meanwhile, I still have to post photos of Mactan’s newer terminal.
Who can design bikeways?
I have read many comments about how bike lanes and other bike facilities are sub-standard or unacceptable because they were designed by non-cyclists. From an academic perspective and perhaps also from a point of view of someone who values empathy, the planning and design of bicycle facilities should not be so limited. The objective of education, and particularly for schools whose graduates become professionals like engineers, architects and planners, should be to have the latter be able to plan and design the most suitable infrastructure and facilities for all users. Suitability here should include equity considering the many elements involved for people of different gender, physical ability or disability, age, health conditions, etc. That said, it is the responsibility of agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to revise and update their design manuals and guidelines to ensure that these are according to International standards and mindful of the best practices in various cities and countries that are now very well documented.
Bike lane in BGC,Taguig City
Bike lane and jogging/walking lane in UP Diliman
On making streets safer through woonerfs
One of the new things I learned when I was taking up transportation planning as an undergraduate student in the 1990s was about the woonerf. Our teacher then was a Visiting Professor from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He introduced to us many concepts in that elective course that paved the way to a number of us proceeding to specialize in transportation. What is a woonerf? Well, here’s a nice article defining the woonerf and providing some examples:
Ionescu, D. (October 6, 2022) “What is a Woonerf?” Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/definition/woonerf?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-10062022&mc_cid=9d60b3d668&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 10/10/2022]
To quote from the article:
“Translated as “living street,” a woonerf employs strategies like traffic calming devices and low speed limits to force drivers to slow down and safely share street space with pedestrians, cylists, and others, often without raised curbs separating cars and pedestrians. In the Netherlands, where the woonerf originated in the 1960s, motorized traffic within woonerf zones is limited to walking speed…
…A woonerf is not a pedestrianized street, but rather one where multiple users and vehicles co-exist. However, a woonerf can be converted to car-free uses using bollards or other barriers. The woonerf maintains utilitarian uses like loading docks and parking while making the roadway safer and more accessible to non-drivers.”
There should be many applications to the woonerf in the Philippines especially in areas where the dominant land use is residential and through traffic should be discouraged. This is goes well with the complete streets concept that is now being promoted and in fact pre-dates the concept and was well ahead of its time.
On animal – vehicle collissions
We feature a different type of road crash today – one involving wildlife and vehicles. This is not something new as I am sure you’ve seen all those road kills (usually cats or dogs) along many of our streets and highways. These don’t even include the frogs, birds and other animals that are killed by motor vehicle traffic. Here is an informative article on such crashes or collisions and what can be done to address them.
Skroch, M. (October 4, 2022) “The dreadful toll of wildlife – vehicle collisions – and what we can do about it,” Governing, https://www.governing.com/now/the-dreadful-toll-of-wildlife-vehicle-collisions-and-what-we-can-do-about-it [Last accessed: 10/10/2020]
To quote from the article:
“Advances in research technology over the past decade have revolutionized experts’ understanding of how wildlife move across landscapes and are now helping to resolve wildlife-vehicle conflicts that are rising due to increased development. One example is GPS collars that are affixed to big game, as well as other mammals and birds, and transmit electronic signals via satellite from some of the most remote regions in the U.S. to researchers throughout the country. This data captures exactly where and when animals move within large landscapes, enabling scientists and engineers to pinpoint where the construction of wildlife crossings — mostly overpasses and underpasses that help animals traverse highways — can most effectively improve motorist safety and facilitate animal migrations. Studies show that a well-placed underpass or overpass can reduce wildlife-vehicle accidents by over 90 percent, providing a high rate of return on federal and state investments in such structures.”
Back to the old normal in road safety?
Last week, I almost witnessed a multiple vehicle crash along Katipunan Avenue. Almost because we reached the location minutes after the incident happened and before the traffic build-up. Here are photos as we passed the area. You can see from the photos that there were already a lot of onlookers (i.e., miron and usyoso), most of whom were motorcycle riders taking photos of the vehicles involved. No one seemed to be helping those involved aside from the MMDA personnel who appeared to have just arrived as we passed the area.
Miron and usyoso in the area near where a large truck plowed to the roadside near a residential area
Some of the vehicles involved in the crash were this black SUV and the red car
There were scattered debris from the vehicles involved.
This truck and SUV collided probably as the truck attempted to avoid one of the vehicles
Traffic jam quickly formed along the southbound side of the Katipunan-Aurora flyover
Traffic along the southbound side of Katipunan is usually heavy that time of day (around 8:00 AM). But there are sections including the flyover where vehicles typically speed up. Still, the likelihood of crashes is perceived to be low given the conditions unless a vehicle such as the truck in the first photo had some trouble with the driver losing control of the vehicle. It takes just one wayward maneuver or movement to initiate a chain reaction among other vehicles that would lead to a multiple vehicle crash.
Traffic has steadily returned to pre-pandemic levels and it seems that road crashes are also back and on the rise. Hopefully, the authorities such as the MMDA and the PNP will be monitoring traffic closely and address the issues contributing to road crash incidence such as reckless driving and defects in road facilities. I believe the data is available but are these being analyzed and evaluated in order to come up with the most suitable or appropriate solutions or countermeasures? Are there timely interventions to improve road safety along our roads?
On having daily walks to improve health and wellness
We begin October with an article about walking, health and wellness. I can relate to this article as we take daily walks, usually in the mornings. One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to more hours from home (rather than at the workplace) is that we have been able to schedule and increase time for our walks. And this has led to a healthier lifestyle for us.
To quote from the article:
“When it comes to brisk walking, “at these moderate levels of effort, you are able to increase your aerobic capacity,” Dr. Singh said. In addition to the long-term health benefits, such intensity would also lower blood pressure, moderate blood sugar levels and lower the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
The key is to walk at an intensity that is manageable but also slightly pushes the boundaries of what is a comfortable pace.
“That constant slow stress on your body is what leads to fitness gains,” Dr. Singh said. “If you’re just getting started, this is probably the easiest way to get started and stay committed, consistent and injury-free.””