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Another look at Marcos Highway pedestrian overpasses – Part 1

My daily commute allows me to have a look at the progress of the LRT Line 2 Extension construction. I also became curious about the situation of the pedestrian facilities along Marcos Highway particularly the crossings since many at first seemed to be affected by the elevated rail structure that was to be built. Now, we already have a good idea of the fates of these pedestrian overpasses. This article shows the conditions/situation of pedestrian overpasses (also called footbridges) along Marcos Highway. Most overpasses are not covered; exposing pedestrians to the elements. Most are also made of steel, which can be traced to the MMDA’s (and later the DPWH’s) preference for these structures.

img_3227Overpass near Filinvest East-Vermont Park gates – the overpass actually is between a technical college and the commercial building across from it.

img_3228The overpass across from Vermont Royale in front of a new Shell service station was actually among the newest facilities along Marcos Highway. Apparently though, it was built without considering the impending construction and design of the Line 2 extension. As such, the overpass needs to be modified or would have to be reconstructed elsewhere near the area.

img_3229Overpass at Town & Country Executive Village that is also near the San Benildo School

img_3230Overpass at Marcos Highway-Felix Avenue-Gil Fernando Avenue intersection – is probably the busiest among the pedestrian overpasses as it is at a busy junction where there are major commercial establishments (i.e., malls) and where many public transport routes converge.

img_3231Robinsons Metro East overpass – this one also survived the clearance requirements with respect to the elevated superstructure for the Line 2 extension. However, since one of the two stations to be built will be nearby if not right across (part of the station at least) from the mall, then the station itself may function as an overpass.

img_3232Overpass at De la Paz – note the ramp for bicycles and wheelchairs. This is one of the more bike- and PWD-friendly facilities along Marcos Highway. The slope is gentle enough for pedestrians, too, especially senior citizens who might have difficulty with steps.

img_3233Overpass at Ligaya – this one also has ramps that make it easier for people to use to cross the busy highway. This will eventually be the closest overpass to the huge Ayala mall (Feliz) currently under construction at the Marikina side of Ligaya. I suspect that there might be a need for another overpass to be built with respect to the mall for one to directly serve the mall’s customers.

img_3234Line 2 Santolan Station overpass connects the Marcos Highway westbound public transport stop with the rail station along the eastbound side of the highway.

img_3235A closer look at the Santolan Station overpass, which is used by a lot of Line 2 passengers who cross the highway to continue on their journeys/commutes via train from their origins in Rizal, Marikina and Pasig. During the mornings, the observer will see a lot of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles emptying of passengers who cross the bridge to get to the station.

img_3236Santolan footbridge – this is actually more complicated than what is seems in the photo because the steel footbridge also connects to the SM City Marikina overpass (which is not included in this compilation but is visible in the photo). The footbridge branches to provide and almost direct connection between the mall and the Line 2 Santolan Station. That structure is shown at

img_3237Monte Vista footbridge allows people to cross Marcos Highway (at its Marikina/Quezon City end) to and from A. Bonifacio Avenue, which is in Marikina City (Barangka) 

More on pedestrian overpasses in the next post!

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.

Bicycle traffic in comparison with motorised vehicle traffic – a case in Iloilo City

I believe that there is a need to have numbers to guide planners and engineers in designing suitable bicycle facilities. It is not enough to claim there is demand since an important requirement for facilities to be provided (i.e., funded and constructed) are numbers for the facilities’ justification. You don’t build mass transit systems, for example, without a valid estimate of ridership. For one, the ridership allows for the determination of revenues. Roads cannot be built without at least a number like the population of communities that will be given accessibility via that road.

Not too long ago, we were able to obtain traffic counts for the Benign S. Aquino Avenue that is also knows as the Iloilo City Diversion Road. The road includes an exclusive bikeway constructed along its airport-bound side that is supposed to benefit cyclists and encourage more people to use bicycles for commuting within the city and between the city and towns along the national highway. The following figures show the AM and PM peak hour traffic at the intersection of the diversion road and Jalandoni Street across from SM City Iloilo. Another figure shows 16-hour traffic at the same location.

Traffic Volume Count-Diversion Road-Jalandoni-PMFig. 1 – AM peak hour traffic along the Iloilo City Diversion Road including bicycle traffic along the exclusive bikeways constructed along the airport-bound side of the highway.

Traffic Volume Count-Diversion Road-Jalandoni-AMPM peak hour traffic along the Iloilo City Diversion Road including bicycle traffic along the exclusive bikeways constructed along the airport-bound side of the highway.

Traffic Volume Count-Diversion Road-Jalandoni-16H16-hour traffic along the Iloilo City Diversion Road including bicycle traffic along the exclusive bikeways constructed along the airport-bound side of the highway.

The numbers clearly show the current low volume of bicycles along the bikeways in comparison to motor vehicle traffic. Since bicycles are also presumed to carry only 1 passenger per vehicle, then the volume also translates into an even lower share in terms of mode of choice by travellers/commuters. For comparison, jeepneys will likely carry an average of 14 passengers while cars may have an occupancy of 1.5 passengers per vehicle. Perhaps a more direct comparison can be made with motorcycles, which are two-wheeled vehicles like bicycles. Only, motorcycles may typically carry 2 passengers.

I am aware that at least one NGO is employing crowd-sourcing in order to obtain bicycle traffic counts along major corridors. Neither the MMDA nor the DPWH have bicycle counts with both agencies’ traffic counts only covering motorized vehicles. Few, if any, local government units would have their own bicycle traffic counts (Perhaps Marikina has data of bicycle traffic in their city that is well known for having the country’s first and most comprehensive bikeways network?). As such, there is generally a dearth of useful data for planning bikeways. One option that advocates for the “if you build it, they will come” approach is not something that is applicable to many cases especially those that do not yet require exclusive bikeways. The folly is to allocate funding for facilities that will not be utilised by their proposed users.

Readings for the new year

I wrote late last year about how the Christmas and New Year holidays allow me to catch up on some readings. These are mostly contemporary articles on transport and other topics rather than whole books (though I just finished one by George RR Martin during the semester). That post with three articles may be found in this link:

Some interesting readings on traffic engineering

I open the year with another post with a couple of interesting articles. One article reports on the newly opened bicycle ‘autobahns’ in Germany. ‘Autobahns’ basically refer to expressways or freeways. The new facilities for cycling represents what many will term as a paradigm shift for a country well known for its excellent automobiles. The concept of an expressway for bicycles actually makes sense in terms of safety and as a way to eliminate many if not all the factors that tend to discourage people from using bicycles for longer distance commutes. These do have the potential to reduce car usage (and traffic congestion) and ultimately also reduce pollution and fuel consumption. I am interested about the designs of these structures as the designs are also key to the development of similar infrastructure elsewhere including, hopefully, the Philippines.

Germany opens first stretch of bicycle ‘autobahn’

Another article is more thought provoking in the sense that it delves into labor and legal issues surrounding Uber and other ride sharing companies. These issues are valid and need to be discussed thoroughly not just in the US but elsewhere where ride sharing services have proliferated and profited. Many of the points pertaining to labor and compensation are valid, and I would like to think that these extend to the franchising issues that have been raised against ride sharing, which ultimately have implications on their business model. The legalese may be a turn-off to many who would argue that companies like Uber and Grab provide them with a good quality of service. But then that begs the question of whether they would have the same view if taxis were better than what they are now.

Road warrior: Is Uber ripping off its drivers?

Happy New Year and happy readings!

 

Another look at Iloilo’s main bikeway

Much has been written and said about Iloilo’s bikeways and particularly about the grander one built along the main highway that is Ninoy Aquino Avenue. This bikeway is already usable but is being extended along with the road widening works for the national road that connects major towns in central Iloilo province including Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan, which host the international airport. Here are some photos and commentaries on the bikeway.

2015-12-09 09.43.48Iloilo City’s wide bikeway along Ninoy Aquino Ave (formerly the Iloilo Diversion Road) – the building on the left is SM City’s recently opened expansion. The photos were taken from the pedestrian overpass across the diversion road.

2015-12-09 09.44.00A closer look of the traffic conflicts at the intersection with Jalandoni Street – the 3-leg intersection is not as simple as it initially looks because of traffic coming from/going to the service road on the right. It is quite obvious in the photo that the alignment of the service road changes abruptly, affecting the trajectory of flow along the road.

2015-12-09 09.44.15The photos were taken around 9:30 AM and there was practically no bicycle traffic to be seen. To be fair, perhaps there is significant bicycle traffic, particularly the commuting kind, earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. Bicycle volumes need to be measured and monitored to determine if the bikeways indeed have encouraged more people to take up cycling as a mode for their regular commutes. That’s the Plazuela in the background on the right.

2015-12-09 09.44.32Another look at the bikeway shows it emanating from Iloilo City proper where it ultimately connects to the bikeways at the Promenade along Iloilo River. There are no bikeways within Iloilo’s CBD itself.

2015-12-09 09.44.42The photo above shows the bikeway and beyond (towards Jaro and Pavia) with the new SM annex at left and the Injap Tower Hotel on the right.

 

“Pwede na yan” bikeways?

The recent clamor for bicycle facilities have led to several initiatives in Metro Manila and other Philippines cities (most notable recently is Iloilo) to support the demand for cycling facilities. While Marikina City already has a network of off-street bikeways segregated from motorised traffic, there are few other examples of such facilities elsewhere. The more recent initiatives in Metro Manila involved the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) establishing bikeways in several areas along major roads in the metropolis. I say establish because the MMDA did not construct new bikeways like the ones in Marikina or Iloilo. What the agency did was to designate sidewalks and other existing paths for cycling by painting these over. Unfortunately, these so-called bikeways did not take into consideration the needs of pedestrians with whom cyclists must share this limited space. And so few people use them despite a high profile launch that brought together government officials and NGOs including cycling and mobility advocates and enthusiasts. I guess the big test was really not whether advocates and enthusiasts would really use the bikeways (Don’t count on the officials to use them. They have chauffeur-driven vehicles.). Would the regular commuter use them instead of the roads, despite the risk or dangers posed by motor vehicles?

2014-02-11 16.58.11Commuters waiting for a bus ride along EDSA with suspended bicycle racks behind them. The sidewalks along EDSA have been painted red, designating them for bicycle use. The big question now is how cyclists will interact with pedestrians given the very limited space they should be sharing.

2014-02-11 16.58.18Bicycles hanging on racks attached to the perimeter wall of an exclusive subdivision along EDSA.

2014-02-11 16.58.46Cyclist using the curb side lane of EDSA – these people run the risk of being sideswiped by buses operating along the yellow (bus) lanes of this busy thoroughfare. It is quite obvious in the photo that there is no space on the sidewalks to accommodate cyclists and even pedestrians. Column for the MRT-3 stations are right on the sidewalks and makes one wonder how this flawed design was approved in the first place. MMDA enforcers usually appear as if they are only bystanders and seem to be generally helpless when it comes to managing traffic.

2014-02-11 17.15.47Workers cycling back to their homes after a day’s work. Many people have opted to take bicycles for their daily commutes even if they have to travel long distances in order to save money that would otherwise be paid as fares for buses, jeepneys, UV Express or tricycles. Note that the cyclists use the outermost lane of the road as the sidewalks pose many obstacles including pedestrians as shown in the photo. Some cyclists though want more than a share of the sidewalk or a lane of the road for their use regarding pedestrians and motor vehicles as nuisance for them. Surely, some pedestrians also regard cyclists as nuisance to walking and would prefer to have the sidewalks for themselves.

Cycling is in a way an emancipation from motorized transport commutes, and savings translate to money they could allocate for other needs of their families. While there are raw data for family expenditures from census surveys, there are few studies and publications focused on transport. It would be  interesting to see how much a typical Filipino family spends for transport in absolute terms as well as a percentage of their total incomes. Such information would be essential for understanding the needs of travelers, especially for daily commutes for work and school (other trips include those for purposes of shopping, recreational, social and others). Long commutes are associated with higher expenses (e.g., in terms of fares or fuel costs) and reducing such costs through shorter commutes should free up money for necessities like food, housing and clothing. Ultimately, this would help solve issues relating to poverty and health, which can easily be related to commuting behavior and characteristics.

It is in that context that transport systems should be planned and implemented carefully along with the housing developments. This underlines the essence of the relationship between transport and land use that has been the topic of discussions for quite some time now that apparently, a lot of people in this country, especially officials and the private sector have chosen to ignore or apply selectively (i.e., according to their own advantage and not really for the general welfare of the public). A transport system is not cycling alone, or roads or railways alone. It is, by definition, a network, a set of interacting, integrated elements and each of these components of the system are essential for it to function well. It is the interaction and integration that are the key elements that we often forget as we advocate one transport mode over others as if they are independent from each other. They are not and we should complement rather than compete in our advocacies for transport so we can finally achieve an efficient, effective system for everyone.