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We are currently implementing a project to improve the safety of journeys of children between their homes and schools. Ocular surveys of 25 schools in Zamboanga City revealed a lot of issues pertaining to their commutes. Critical locations include the main access roads (e.g., across school gates) and intersections. All schools have reported incidence of road crashes involving their students and mentioned that in many cases, drivers or riders do not slow down upon approaching the critical locations. These cases of speeding are despite the many countermeasures (including informal and creative ones) that schools and Barangay authorities have implemented to improve safety.
Here are some photos we took at Sinunuc Elementary School along the national highway in Zamboanga City:
Children waiting to cross the highway and on-board motorcycles with their parents/guardians who fetched them from school
Large vehicles including trucks and buses traverse the highway and the signs offer little in terms of refuge or protection against these for students and other people crossing the highway.
Child crossing with a parent/guardian
Children crossing the highway – photo also shows a pedestrian crossing sign at the road side along the direction towards the city centre.
Children crossing with their parents/guardians as a jeepney is stopped right before the pedestrian crossing.
Though it may not be so obvious for some observers or viewers of the photos, these situations present high risks for students and others using the roads. And we hope our assessments in cooperation with the schools, agencies and city officials will be fruitful in improving road safety especially for the children.
A major factor in shaping our cities and municipalities is the leadership in the form of local politicians, most especially the Mayors, who are the decision-makers for many aspects of their constituencies. Mayors have a hand in most if not all policies pertaining to land use (e.g., zoning, planning, etc.) and transportation (e.g., schemes, policies, franchises, etc.).
The likes of Vico Sotto, Isko Moreno and Francis Zamora are currently being praised for what seems to be their fresh and aggressive approach to addressing problems and issues in their respective constituencies. The three’s ascendance to mayor of their respective cities have also exposed the alleged graft and corruption of their predecessors. The dominance of the latter in the form of dynasties have all but assured that whatever anomalies passed on from one term to another are internalised and made unknown to their constituencies who are to remain blind to these abnormalities. Instead, the people are made to believe that progress is achieved with some worthwhile projects here and there to show that taxpayers’ money are spent well.
Prior to these personalities, there were others who sort of broke the dynasties in their respective towns. I can name at least two cases that I am very familiar with; both with the Municipality of Cainta – Mon Ilagan and Kit Nieto. Both ended long reigns with Ilagan making Cainta history by finally upending the Felix dynasty there. Previous to him, the only one who almost upset the then reigning dynasty was a woman – Eunice Fermindoza. Ironically, Ilagan’s attempt at a dynasty by making his wife run after his 3 terms was up was nipped by Nieto, an erstwhile ally who has come to represent not just the emergence but the establishment of people who have settled in suburban town in the various subdivisions developed over the course of the last 50 years. These are the middle class comprised of professional and office workers and their families who decided to reside in Cainta because of the town’s proximity to Metro Manila and homes their being relatively affordable.
Even before Sotto, Moreno and Zamora have embarked on their own programs, Nieto has shown that the efficient use of resources coupled with transparency and a genuine feel for the requirements of his constituents will get one re-elected and gain attention. Cainta has transformed and blossomed under this current mayor. For one, he has been able to complete many infrastructure projects and strengthened social and medical programs in the municipality. It is a wonder how Cainta is not yet a city considering its income and continued growth. One only wishes this growth is not sustained by poorly planned land use development where the town basically relies on developers (i.e., Megaworld and Filinvest) for the plans instead of being involved in order to avoid exacerbating the enduring traffic and flooding issues that are still the bane of this town. Unfortunately, Nieto is on his last term and it is unclear for now who might be competent and progressive enough to replace him. Among the current councilors in the current administration is a Felix and an Ilagan, scions of the two previous families that lorded it over Cainta. Will one of them rise again to reclaim what they probably regard as their right place? Hopefully not…Kawawa naman ang Cainta.
Here are a couple of references/resources for pedestrian and cycling safety. These are guidelines and countermeasure selection systems that were developed under the Federal Highway Administration of the US Department of Transportation:
- Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
- Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
These guides are designed to be practical and should be helpful to practitioners/professionals, policymakers as well as researchers. These would be people looking for references to use in designing or revising (correcting?) existing conditions or situations in order to enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists who are among the most vulnerable of road users.
Here’s a quick share of a very nice article that’s very informative and therefore useful to people seeking to tap into the potential of shared transportation to help alleviate transport woes in their cities and towns:
Miller (2019) “9 Ways Cities Can Unlock the Potential of Shared Transportation”, Medium.com, https://medium.com/frontier-group/9-ways-cities-can-unlock-the-potential-of-shared-transportation-66a53b2c841 [Last accessed: May 3, 2019]
So far, we only have few examples of shared transportation in the Philippines. These include a few bike shares in Metro Manila and does not count ride-hailing/ridesharing, which we now know is not really a sustainable form of transport.
Wouldn’t it be healthier and more effective for law enforcers to have bike patrols? Many of them seem to be detached from the communities they’re supposed to serve when they aren’t on foot or pedals but instead go around on motor vehicles. It also seems a waste that the motor vehicles assigned to these people are being used to train them for driving. Thus, you often see patrol cars (even motorcycles) that are supposed to be recent model vehicles but seem so battered already. Do they really use these for chases? Or are they damaged due to their being used as “training” vehicles?
PNP officers on bike patrol along the beaches in Baler, Aurora
To be more effective, police officers should probably be roaming on foot or bicycles. They can be more in touch with the communities as there will be opportunities to mingle compared to if they were on cars or motorcycles. In one thread on social media, for example, there was a call for our local police to adopt the “Koban” style of the Japanese police where officers roam the communities mainly on foot and where many are recruited from the community for the latter and former to have some familiarity with the people and areas they are assigned to. Going around on foot or bicycle would also be a healthier option as surely they will be able to go more than the 10,000 steps (or equivalent) necessary to be classified as active.
Here is another quick post on another article I am sharing showing the importance of sustainable transport:
Milner, D. (2019) How sustainable transport can save the world, medium.com, https://medium.com/@djjmilner/how-sustainable-transport-can-save-the-world-f2f64517dc52 [Last accessed: 4/9/2019]
It goes without saying that sustainable transport has a lot of potential for helping mitigate climate change and other issues but much is expected of our leaders for policies and program & project development & implementation towards achieving sustainable transport in our cities and municipalities.
There’s an update to the “Rethinking Streets” guide with one that is focused on street transformation for bicycles. Here is the link to their site where they now have 2 guidebooks:
You will have to click one of the guides to register (if you haven’t done so before) and download them.