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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.
Fig. 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.
PM 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.
16-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.
On Iloilo’s taxis
The talk about Uber vs taxi is a hot topic in many cities around the world and also in Metro Manila where Uber has gained a foothold and a strong following among mostly ‘former’ taxi goers. Many have stated that Uber provides the service that taxis should have been providing. Uber vehicles are supposed to be of newer models and drivers are supposed to be screened carefully. Uber even has a feedback mechanism not just for drivers but for passengers as well. Basically, Uber provides the quality of service everyone wants to have on regular taxis. The irony of course is that regular taxis are supposed to provide a higher quality of service compared to other public transport modes considering it is basically a for hire car short of a limousine service. But then this begs the question: If you had good taxi services in your city, would you still consider Uber? Or perhaps would Uber have a lot of demand in a city with good taxi services? Perhaps there will still be a demand for Uber but the clamor will not be like that in Metro Manila. And there are few cities with ‘good enough’ taxi services that can compare with Uber in terms of quality of service.
A good example of where there are ‘good enough’ taxis and there is a healthy competition not between Uber and conventional taxis but among taxi operators themselves is in Iloilo City. We have discovered many years ago that Iloilo City had one Light of Glory taxi company that is very popular among Ilonggos and visitors as the drivers were generally more honest than others and they had an efficient dispatching system including desks at the airport and a major shopping mall.
Light of Glory Taxi at the airport parking lot
Light of Glory has its own app, which you can get for free and install on your smartphone. It is not as sophisticated as Uber’s or Grab’s apps in terms of features but it gets the job done (i.e., getting you a taxi).
Dispatch sheet – note the attributes the company is trying to promote among its taxis: “Clean, Safe, Reliable, Comfortable, Drug Free” These are attributes we all want of our public utility vehicles whether these are taxis, jeepneys, buses or tricycles.
Light of Glory taxi that dropped us off at the venue of our meeting straight from the airport
The Light of Glory taxis is a well run company. Their drivers seem to be treated very well by the operator (drivers claim they have a better compensation system) and generally drive better than other taxis. Their vehicles are also seem to be better maintained compared to others except a few of the larger companies like GDR. Everyone knows about the best taxi company in Iloilo and would most likely prefer their taxis over others if the choice is given to the taxi-going commuter. To compare, I remember the Comfort taxis of Singapore and how many Singaporeans and foreigners living in SG prefer these taxis over others. Comfort taxis have a good dispatching system and you can make reservations for trips in advance. Of course, there are additional fees for on-demand services including arrangements for pick-ups and drop-offs (e.g., your residence to the airport).
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.
Iloilo 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.
A 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.
The 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.
Another 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.
The 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.
Another look at the Iloilo airport – departure
I took the first flight out of Iloilo back to Manila during a recent trip to the city. I also took an opportunity to take some pictures of the terminal including the part when we lined up to enter the terminal. Security was strict (as is necessary for such facilities) so there was a single line to control the inflow of passengers. There’s nothing really new for departures except a few new cafes inside the pre-departure area. The shops prior to the final security check were still closed at the time so I could not do some final pasalubong shopping. I can only imagine that passengers directly bound for international destinations would need to pass through the immigration booths at the terminal.
Queue of passengers entering the terminal – there was a single file for the initial inspection by airport security. Well-wishers are not allowed inside the airport unless there is prior clearance from the airport authorities.
North wing pre-departure area – the shops were already open early in the morning
A glance back to the center of the terminal where passengers emerge from the final security check.
Passengers catching an NBA post-game interview while waiting for the boarding call.
We were initially assigned to board at Gate 3 of the airport terminal.
Cafe near Gate 3 that is also designated as a smoking area.
Later, we were transferred to Gate 5 at the other end of the terminal.
Waiting passengers seated facing Gate 5. There are also cafes and fast food line along this terminal wing.
Designated enclosed smoking area near Gate 5.
Fellow passengers walking on the bridge towards our aircraft.
The first flight out of Iloilo to Manila is via Cebu Pacific. The second flight is via Philippine Airlines whose plane is shown unloading baggage as it arrived as we were boarding our aircraft.
View inside the tube as we proceeded to board our aircraft.
Another look at the Iloilo airport – arrival
I have not been to Iloilo in a while despite having our ancestral home there on my father’s side of the family. It used to be that I was in Iloilo at least once a year and usually during the Holy Week when we had family reunions on Easter Sunday. Perhaps the last time was in 2010 when I gave a keynote lecture to the Metro Iloilo, Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) during one of their last seminars under a JICA-assisted project to improve transportation in the area. And so I was quite happy to have an opportunity to travel to Iloilo even for a short stay to have a meeting and do some field work. I was also happy to have an opportunity to take some new photos of the airport, which is now serving as an international airport with regular flights to and from Hong Kong and Singapore.
Arriving passengers pass through a corridor after disembarking through one of the three tubes at the terminal.
The Iloilo International Airport’s control tower as seen from the terminal building.
Direction to the baggage claim area.
Quarantine section along the way to baggage claim.
The corridor leads to a section allocated for immigration for international arrivals.
The immigration booths are manned only when there are international arrivals. Most of the time, these are unmanned as most flights throughout the day are domestic.
The booths look like they were set up only recently when the airport started catering to international flights. There were only two stations, each with a capacity for 2 immigration officials for a total of 4 officers to process international arrivals. I hope they are able to do their jobs efficiently (i.e., quickly but correctly) as the space for queuing is quite limited. There are few international flights, however, and one A319 or A320 planeload would probably not overwhelm 4 officers. Of course, I am assuming there would be that many officers to handle the arrivals.
After going through the immigration area, one proceeds towards the baggage claim area via a staircase, which leads passengers to the ground level of the airport terminal.
There are 2 baggage carousels where arriving passengers can get their checked-in luggage. Carts are provided free for use of passengers.
Luggage of all shapes and sizes are loaded unto the carousel and circulate for passengers to sort through and pick up.
When in need of trustworthy and reliable transport in Iloilo, contact Light of Glory taxi service. Their metered taxi services are the best in the city and the province it is easy to arrange for a vehicle to fetch you at the hotel to any destination within the island. Their drivers practice safe driving so that’s always a plus for those who prefer to take the taxi over the jeepney when in Iloilo. I also noticed that they have a good dispatching system at the airport and at SM City Iloilo – definitely something that we should be replicating in Metro Manila and other cities.