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This seems to be an odd topic for this blog at first but then shoes are very much related to transportation. You have to have a good pair of shoes on you for walking, jogging or running. There are even driving shoes and boat shoes (i.e., those docksides and topsiders were originally made for boating or walking along the seaside). And so I write this short article about shoes; particularly those made in Marikina.
Marikina is well-known for its shoemaking industry. It used to be a major industry that manufactured shoes that were popular throughout the country as well as being exported for sale abroad. These were mainly handmade using techniques and skills passed on from one generation to the next. It was not uncommon for families to be involved in shoemaking and the brands of many shoes carry the names (or combinations) of families involved in the business. There was even a Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao where I recall we had bought many pairs of shoes for school and casual days. Among the brands I remember were Chancellor, Valentino and Cardams. There is also a Shoe Avenue in the city along which many shops are located. In many cases, these are also the factories themselves.
The industry suffered due to a combination of automation (i.e., mass production) and the influx of cheap shoes from China. Without government support for the industry, many, regardless of whether they were small or big, eventually seized shoemaking. Those who survived and those who were revived are the ones you still see. And then there are upstarts who have been encouraged by the support now being provided by the city government. One venue for this support is through a “Sapatos Festival” that the city organises to promote shoes and other footwear made in Marikina.
The Sapatos Festival was held right across from the Marikina City Hall.
One could find a variety of footwear using various materials including genuine leather, rubber, faux leather, etc. This photo shows men’s shoes being sold at one of the shops there.
I tried on a pair I fancied and after the typical examination of workmanship and quality, I decided to buy this pair for 900 pesos (about 9 US dollars!).
Marikina-made footwear and bags are also sold at the Riverbanks mall that used to be a textile factory complex. These are inexpensive yet very good quality products that I think we should re-discover and support. Perhaps we should also provide constructive comments or suggestions on how the makers can further improve their products in order for them to be able to compete with the mass-produced variety. There is definitely a market for well-made footwear whether you walk, take public transport or drive.
I thought I already posted an update on the Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City. It turned out I was only able to upload photos on my folder but wasn’t able to get to writing about the bike lane. And so we conclude the year 2018 with a positive post of something we would like to see more in 2019 and beyond. We are hopeful that the protected bike lanes along Julia Vargas Avenue, connecting C-5 with the Ortigas Center, will expand and that this example along those of its predecessor bikeways in Marikina and Iloilo would be replicated across the country particularly in highly urbanised cities.
A view of the westbound bike lane along Julia Vargas at the Ortigas Center. Note that the eastbound bike lane (visible in this photo) is not similarly protected vs. motor vehicle encroachments. It would be preferable for that lane to be protected, too. Parang bitin pa tuloy ang effort nila.
Another view of the protected bike lane along the westbound side of Julia Vargas Avenue in contrast with the obviously congested lanes available for motor vehicles.
The middle lanes of the carriageway are wide and can accommodate motorcycles though the latter always seem to prefer filtering or splitting the lanes. The median lanes are generally for low occupancy vehicles (less than 3 passengers) while the middle ones are for high occupancy vehicles (3 or more passengers) including UV Express vans and buses.
Happy New Year to all!
A recent report reinforces what many of us already probably know or are aware of – that we need to shift away from dependence on car use to more sustainable modes of transport in the form of non-motorised transport (NMT) and public transportation. Here is the article from the AASHTO Journal:
There is a link to the report in the journal article. The report is conveniently available in PDF form and is very readable (i.e., not overly technical).
Incidentally, I was involved some time ago in a project led by the group Clean Air Asia (CAA), which involved several experts from across ASEAN as well as Japan that attempted to determine the necessary transport programs and projects in the region to stave off the projected increase in global temperatures. In all the scenarios evaluated, non-motorised transport (NMT) and a rationalised public transportation system By the term ‘rationalised’ I am referring to the use of higher capacity vehicles as against the taxis and tricycles that typically carry few if not one passenger. Here is a link to the final symposium for that study that has links to the materials presented:
Here’s a slightly updated slide on the future image for a large city in the Philippines:
I saw this interesting article on cycling/biking that I thought was quite relevant to the situation we have on campus. The University of the Philippines Diliman campus has a bike lane along the inner side of its Academic Oval that has been used by various cyclist types. There are those who use their bikes for commuting or going around campus (e.g., students traveling between buildings for their classes, messengers bringing documents, etc.). There are those biking in a more relaxed manner (i.e., for recreation). And then there are those who bike for fitness including those racing around the oval. It is from the latter that UP Diliman has received complaints about conflicts with joggers, motor vehicles and fellow cyclists. But then UP has maintained that the bike lane is not for racing or taking laps around the oval. It was created to have a segregated (and in the future maybe protected) lane to enhance mobility more than any other purpose.
Babin, T. (2018) “How to ride a bike slowly (and why you would want to),” Medium.com, https://medium.com/shifter/how-to-ride-a-bike-slowly-and-why-you-would-want-to-b544ec869846 [Last accessed: 2/4/2018].
UP Diliman’s Academic Oval now features a bike lane between a jogging/walking lane and the lanes assigned for motorised traffic. The ice cream vendor on a NMT 3-wheeler is running on the bike lane.
There are two articles that I want to share here. These are quite interesting for me as they tackle something not usually written about when it comes to cycling. The “invisible biker” referred to in one of the articles is the typical low-income cyclist. These are those who can be seen regularly using their bicycles to commute to and from their workplaces; likely to save hard-earned money for more important items such as food and shelter (rent?). They do not use fancy bicycles like those nice, branded mountain, road or fat bikes that you see being used by recreational bikers or weekend cyclists. They most likely use second-hand bikes like those surplus bicycles from Japan, or perhaps old BMX’s that have been modified to make it a bit more comfortable for the long commutes.
I think these are the bike riders that we should be providing safe bikeways for. They are the ones who most often use bicycles for their trips and are at risk of being hit by motor vehicles.
There are two articles about bike sharing that got my attention today. These are both asked the question of weather bike sharing programs actually work or are successful. Following are links to the two articles available online:
Both articles draw upon the experiences in many cities in the United States where various bike share programs have sprouted. Many seem to have had some measure of success but most are not as successful when evaluated using criteria mentioned in the articles. I guess there’s much to be learned here but the experiences should not be limited to the US. There are better examples in Europe where bicycle use is quite popular compared to the US. Perhaps Asian examples, too, need to be assessed but then all need to be examined objectively and according to the unique situations and/or circumstances for how these bike shares came to be in the first place. In Metro Manila, the bike share program by the students at the sprawling University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City is a recent one but is very popular with students. Another, more endowed program in a more posh district in Taguig City is much less successful judging from the usually full racks of bicycles. There are also lessons to be learned here and perhaps things that can be shared with others looking to come up with their own bike share programs in their cities and towns.
I had been curious about the ADB-supported bike share initiative they called Tutubi since it was launched at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in Manila and at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. These have sophisticated portals where one can rent a bicycle by simply swiping or tapping your card unto the terminal. I finally noticed the bike station at Bonifacio High Street in BGC. I don’t know how I missed it since we are there weekly but then there are usually events in that area and the bike share station may have been obscured. Following are a few photos I was able to take as I watched our toddler walking about curiously and excited of the fountains and others she found interesting at High Street.
All the bikes seem to be here as not a slot was vacant.
It seemed ironic to see not one bike in use against the backdrop banners of a popular motoring magazine.
A closer look at the portal shows what looks like a new (unused?) facility.
It seems to me that there are few users of the Tutubi at least at Bonifacio High Street. I wonder if the bikes at UST are utilized more than the ones at BGC. I also wonder if UST is monitoring or studying bicycle use in its campus. Its use being limited within the premises of the campus sort of restricts users and diminishes utility. UST has a walkable campus and while its area is big (20+ ha) compared to other universities and colleges in the University Belt district, it is smaller beside Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University (80+ ha) and the University of the Philippines (493 ha). The latter two are also “walkable” with UP having more park-like features and open to the public.
UP Diliman has its own Bike Share program run by students and (I might come as biased) these seem to be popular on campus as I see many of the bikes used by students to go around from one building to another. UP Bike Share currently employs a more conventional system including subscriptions for frequent users. There is, however, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded project through the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute of UP Diliman that hopes to develop a more sophisticated system for managing and monitoring the bikes. That project has just started so we might wait 1 to 2 years to see its fruits.
I friend recently posted on the pedestrianisation of Intramuros and I commented that the walled city that used be equated to Manila should be a prime candidate for initiatives on pedestrianisation. Among the challenges, however, for any project that seeks to encourage walking by reclaiming roads and other spaces for pedestrians in the walled city would be the pedicabs. These are non-motorised three-wheelers that proliferate in Intramuros. There are just too many of these vehicles going around the area. I have mentioned these vehicles in past articles on some streets in the walled city including Calle Real del Palacio, Muralla Street, and Solana Street.
A city that can be used as a ‘good practice’ reference is Vigan City in the province of Ilocos Sur. Many parts of Vigan City are already pedestrian-friendly. In fact, Crisologo Street, which famously represents this city recognised as a UN Heritage Site is off-limits to motorised transport. However, the issue with Vigan is the proliferation of motorized tricycles. There also seems to be an oversupply of these tricycles that many continuously go around the city looking for passengers. The noise and emissions from these roaming tricycles alone contribute to negate part of the attraction of this Heritage City.
Baguio City can be transformed into a walkable city and focus should be on the iconic Session Road where small businesses including restaurants and shops once thrived. I say ‘once’ because the establishments along Session Road have experienced a decline during the past years since a major retail company constructed and started operating a huge mall near one end of Session Road. So much for the small city feel of Baguio and the local shops and restaurants that have suffered from the big business concept brought in by the mall.
In Makati City, the Ayala CBD has been pedestrian-friendly for quite some time now. People-centered facilities include underpasses for crossing major roads like Ayala Avenue and an elevated walkway connecting office buildings all the way to the Greenbelt mall. Unfortunately, these pedestrian-friendly features are limited to the CBD and
In Taguig City, the Bonifacio Global City is a good example where sidewalks are wide enough and there are pedestrian friendly malls like the High Street where people are prioritized over cars. Crossing the streets, however, can be very dangerous at BGC and traffic enforcers need to do more serious enforcing in order to manage speeds and aggressive driving by motorists in BGC. There are already incidences being shared on social media of pedestrians being hit by speeding vehicles or those whose drivers simply don’t give way especially when turning at corners.
In Quezon City, there are few areas that can be regarded as pedestrian-friendly. Among these are the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, whose core is closed to motorised traffic during Sundays. There are initiatives for making Katipunan Avenue more pedestrian-friendly. However, these initiatives seem to be still far from being implemented on the southbound side of Katipunan where plenty of establishments do not have adequate parking and there are practically no sidewalks for people to walk on. This is the side where there used to be a service road that had to be sacrificed more than a decade ago when the MMDA got engrossed with a flawed traffic scheme.
What cities or streets would be your candidates for pedestrianisation?
I was surprised to see a familiar vehicle going around San Diego as I took a walk around the Gaslamp District. I had to do a double take as I saw three-wheeled non-motorised transport (NMT) along a busy road. Many were brightly decorated or sported lights that made them noticeable among the vehicles on the streets when it got dark. Many drivers were also dressed to attract passengers. Many wore helmets or some head gear (hats or caps for others). Motorists seem to be well-adjusted to these pedicabs running along San Diego roads but then traffic in the CBD appears to be lighter compared to downtown Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Bicycles and cycling are very popular in San Diego so pedicabs seem to be a natural extension of that
Three-wheeler with a smiley
Pedicabs could carry 2 to 4 passengers depending on their seating configuration
A pedicab decked with rope lights is followed by one with well-dressed passengers. The pedicabs were quite popular with delegates/participants of the INTA conference held at the San Diego Convention Center.
The pedicabs in San Diego are basically for tourism and not necessarily for commuting. They do, however, agree to carry people who would rather ride the pedicab than take a taxi or walk to their destinations. You just have to negotiate a fair price for the ride. The good thing with the pedicabs in San Diego is that their operations there provide a good example, a proof of concept if I may state, of how motorised and non-motorised options can co-exist. These options for travel include the rail-based trolley and provide people with a plethora of options for sustainable mobility. I think this should work in medium sized, highly urbanised Philippine cities as well.
I happened to be in Malabon one weekend for a get-together with the wife’s relatives who lived in the area. Malabon is an old town that is often mentioned in history books (i.e., during the Spanish period). Though the name of the town is said to have been derived from the term “ma-labong,” which is short for “maraming labong” or plenty of bamboo shoots, it is likely, too, the place was named after San Francisco de Malabon. Here are a few photos we managed to take as we drove along Malabon’s streets. I was not familiar with the area but Waze and Google maps provided ample information for us to navigate our way around.
Gen. Luna Street in the Malabon city proper is a one way street. Other streets in the CBD have also been designated as one-way streets as all (and not just a few or most) roads are narrow.
Non-motorized transport are popular in Malabon and you will see a lot of bicycles and pedicabs along the streets. These are usually in mixed traffic and seem to blend quite well with motorized vehicles. This seems to be a good example of practicable road sharing.
While the streets are designated one-way for motor vehicles, bicycles and pedicabs generally travel counterflow and oblivious to the risks of doing so. Still, motorists seem to be okay with this and traffic enforcers do not mind the practice.
There are many people using bicycles and pedicabs in Malabon. Noticeable are the unique designs of sidecars as the bicycles used in the trikes are taller than the usual bikes elsewhere.
One of the narrow side streets in Malabon. I think these should only be used for walking or cycling and motor vehicles (including motorcycles) should not be allowed to use these. Malabon can be developed as a walkable city and since it has narrow streets, traffic circulation needs take into consideration how to effectively use one way scheme or combinations in the network.
Malabon is a flood-prone area. Combined with its narrow streets, the area needs an all weather transport system. Non-motorized transport like bicycles and pedicabs can provide this as well as buses perhaps, though the narrow streets and tight turns at intersections can definitely be tricky for large vehicles. It would be interesting how the city will continue to develop considering the constraints. The town proper itself is challenged in terms of the area available for development and perennial flooding will always be an issue that will be quite difficult to overcome. Still, the city and its citizens persist and have been able to overcome these challenges. It can only be hoped that the city will continue to thrive amidst the challenges.