Caught (up) in traffic

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EDSA: Taft to Tramo

The EDSA-Taft Ave. intersection was in the news a few weeks ago due to the MRT3 train that derailed and overshot the end of the line along EDSA. Being a major intersection for roads as well as for rail (MRT3 and LRT1), it is a very crowded area. Nearby, too, is the Redemptorist church in Baclaran that attracts a lot of people especially during Wednesdays. Following are a few photos of the area showing the conditions on the pedestrian overpasses and at street level.

IMG08788-20140610-1649The pedestrian overpass at EDSA-Taft is also a mall of sorts given the merchandise being sold at informal shops at the overpass.

IMG08789-20140610-1649The overpass connects to the EDSA-MRT 3 Taft Ave. Station. This is the MRT 3’s end station and the overpass system connects the MRT 3 Taft Ave. Station with the LRT Line 1 EDSA Station. The connection was not and is still not a smooth one, which has been the subject of criticism from a lot of people.

IMG08790-20140610-1649The overpass allows people to walk around this large intersection

IMG08791-20140610-1650Pedicabs freely travel along this stretch of EDSA between Taft and Tramo on lanes designated for public utility buses and clearly violating regulations regarding what vehicles are allowed on EDSA. You can also see in the photo a cart full of merchandise being pushed along the curbside lane.

IMG08792-20140610-1650A motor tricycle ferrying passengers along EDSA just before Tramo (that’s the street above which is an overpass from EDSA southbound).

Sunday smog

We were staying at a hotel over the weekend and our room afforded us a good view of the cityscape to the left and seascape to the right. We weren’t able to get a good view of the sunset as we were practically facing south-east and the orientation of the window prevented any, even slight view of what is always a nice Manila Bay sunset. We did expect to see the sunrise the following morning.

As the sun came up, we took this photo of the cityscape. Closer to us were buildings in Pasay City while those farther away were buildings in Bonifacio Global City. I remembered reading somewhere that what makes our sunsets so colourful or spectacular are the elements in our atmosphere. Air pollution tends to bring the most dramatic colors for sunsets and I believe that’s in a way also applicable to sunrises. I took a snapshot of the cityscape from our hotel window expecting the worst for what could be the equivalent of an exposed negative in the old days. Instead, I got the pretty decent photo below showing the sunlight reflecting off the haze around Metro Manila and giving the cityscape that eerie look on a Sunday morning.

2014-06-01 06.12.33

There’s a joke that is often recycled concerning air pollution and air quality. According to this joke, the Philippines doesn’t need to worry about air pollution since every year it is visited by many typhoons. These typhoons passing through the country sweep away the pollution thereby making the air around us cleaner. This is actually true and one need only to get outdoors after a typhoon to smell the fresh air. Of course, it doesn’t take long before the smog returns and therein lies the punchline to the real joke. At the rate we are going in terms of vehicle emissions alone, we would probably need at least a typhoon every week for the entire year if we wanted clean air to breathe. The dry seasons would probably be the worst in terms of poor air quality. And so we must see that the joke is on usĀ and air quality will only continue to deteriorate if we do not act now and do not pitch in for the fight for clean air.

Pedicabs at your service

Pedicabs are among the most common modes of public transport around the country. These are usually found in residential areas including subdivisions or villages where they provide services to people who find it far to walk between their homes and the village gate. However, in many other places, particularly in the rural areas, pedicabs along with tricycles represent the main public transport mode for short trips. And because the main roads connecting barangays or barrios may be national roads, one will find these non-motorized transport traveling along national roads and clearly violating a law prohibiting such transport from using the national highways.

Pedicabs serving rural areas are often tolerated because of a lack of convenient public transport services in barangays. Many communities that happen to be located along national highways are often served by pedicabs (and/or motor tricycles) since jeepneys or buses come along quite sporadically, especially during the off-peak hours. Their drivers and passengers though are often at risk from motor vehicles, especially buses and trucks, that travel at higher speeds and with which crashes are highly likely to result in fatalities.

IMG05991-20130425-0639This guy earns 10 pesos for a special (single passenger only) ride from the national highway to the Leyte Landings monument in Palo. Normal fare is 6 pesos per passenger if you share the ride with others. It’s a decent job and the man earns an honest living pedaling his pedicab to ferry people to and from government offices around the area.

IMG05999-20130425-1525Pedicab queue at the junction of national roads are quite common in the rural areas.

IMG05973-20130425-0553Pedicab traveling along a national highway in Leyte.

In the urban setting, pedicabs operate in many streets and in many cases travel along major roads. Many are considered nuisances in traffic as they are slow moving and do risky maneuvers. In certain cases, like Intramuros and Pasay, they are just too many and may cause congestion simply by their numbers in general traffic. One can also wonder why they are necessary in many places if the walking environment can be improved for pedestrians so that they would not need to take short rides via pedicabs. While we are aware of the social dimensions of pedicab services (i.e., mainly their being the source of income or livelihood for a lot of people), there is the view that many of these same people are misguided in their being allowed to operate so many pedicabs and thereby making many believe it is the “only” livelihood they can depend on. The local governments should be made answerable to these questions regarding pedicab proliferation where they are not suitable.

IMG06056-20130507-0947Pedicabs along a Manila street near Tutuban and the PNR station.

IMG05504-20130221-1604Pedicabs in Intramuros, Manila near Mapua Institute of Technology.

IMG_6256Pedicabs operating along a section of EDSA in Pasay City near the provincial bus terminals.

IMG04130-20120829-1516Pedicab along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City near the BIR Road and Agham Road, ferrying people from the EDSA MRT station to offices along the said roads.

Then, of course, there are the pedicabs serving the private or gated residential subdivisions. While tricycles have been the ones to first establish services for these villages, pedicabs have become the choice for many where noise and emissions from tricycles have become irritants and serious issues to residents. The slower-moving pedicabs pose less risks to children playing on the streets or pedestrians walking on village carriageways.

IMG06046-20130504-1536Pedicabs at an exclusive residential subdivision – depending on the fare policies set by local governments, barangays or village associations, pedicabs may charge somewhere between 5 to 10 pesos per passenger depending on the distance traveled, and in some cases the weather conditions (i.e., in many areas, pedicabs charge more when its rainy and especially when streets are flooded).