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Commuting and stress

Here is another quick post but on a topic that’s related to health and therefore is something that I think many should be interested in and perhaps take important note of.

Commuting: “The Stress that Doesn’t Pay”

There are many links to various medical articles within the article. At the last part, there is also a list of references that the reader may want to look at. I’m also posting this for future reference. This would contribute to the formulation of topics for research especially the inter-disciplinary or collaborative kind.

Footpaths at the College of Engineering Complex, UP Diliman

There are newly constructed concrete footpaths connecting the buildings of the College of Engineering complex at the University of the Philippines Diliman. These are intended for pedestrians to be able to walk between buildings without worrying about weather-related concerns such as muddy paths during the wet season.

My colleague took the following photos while walking towards the Institute of Civil Engineering building from Velasquez Street where the university has a portal leading to its housing for faculty and staff.

img_1124The concrete pathway is a significant improvement from the old dirt path that seemed to have been carved out of people’s trekking along this path over the last year or so.

img_1127The path connects buildings at the area designated for the College of Engineering Complex. Many buildings such as the one above are under construction or to be constructed in this area.

img_1129Much of the pathway goes through trees and other plants, preserving the greens already there that help provide a more enjoyable environment for walking.

img_1130The pathway was dubbed the “Engineering Unity Path” as it connects buildings that are homes to individual institutes and departments that constitute the College of Engineering.

img_1134End of the road – one end of the foot path leads to Maramag Street and the driveway to the Executive House, the official residence of the UP President.

img_1143Maramag St. towards the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) complex with the ICE main building at left

While the pathway seems to be a permanent structure it is something I think is basically evolving just like the College of Engineering Complex. The complex already has a master plan but implementation towards a cohesive complex seem far from completion. For one, much of the complex covers a residential area in the university that has many (too many) informal settlers. And then there is the Executive House at the heart of the complex that probably needs to be moved elsewhere.

Walking is good for you!

I found the following graphic on social media (Facebook). It shows the benefits of walking, particularly 30 minutes of walking per day. There are many studies that have established the benefits of what is now termed as ‘active transport’ that includes walking and cycling to promote healthy communities and cities. If only our communities and cities are more walkable then perhaps more people can be encouraged to walk more and there will be a reduction of motor vehicle traffic. The latter will be those vehicles used for short distance trips that are typically associated with distances suitable for walking rather than riding or using a motor vehicle.

IMG_2730

NAIA Terminal 3 – Newport connector

Currently under construction is a bridge connecting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and the Newport City complex across it. Once completed, it will be a convenient physical connection between the airport and the complex of hotels, residential condominiums and commercial establishments. The connection will be at a third level above the NAIA Expressway that is currently under construction. Here are a few snapshots of the bridge:

IMG_1511Under construction: a bridge connecting NAIA Terminal 3 and the complex that includes, among other, the Marriott Hotel and Resorts World Manila

IMG_1510Another snapshot of the bridge under construction. The dome in the background is of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus across from Terminal 3.

The benefits of walking

I came across an old article on walking that appeared in The New Yorker in 2014. This was after reading another article my wife shared that also was about walking. One is about both the physical and intellectual benefits of walking while the other was about walking without a purpose. Both were about walking and thinking, and definitely about the benefits of even a short stroll to our physical and mental being.

Here’s the article from The New Yorker: Why walking helps us think

And the article from BBC: The slow death of purposeless walking

I highly recommend both articles as we ponder about making our cities safe for pedestrians/walking.

Encouraging and providing incentives for walking

A friend based in Singapore posted a photo showing a poster promoting a ‘National Steps Challenge’. The objective apparently and obviously is for Singaporeans and foreign nationals living there to get into walking. The target, according to the poster, is 10,000 steps per day. There are even illustrations in the poster showing estimates of  how many steps you can do at the home, the office or during your regular commute.

Steps challenge[Photo courtesy of Engr. Joy Garcia]

Such programs are exemplary and are aimed at boosting citizen’s health and welfare. Of course, Singapore can do this and many will respond even without rewards because Singapore has excellent transport infrastructure including an extensive public transport system and suitably designed pedestrian facilities.

Can cities in the Philippines come up with a similar challenge? Are there cities with good enough pedestrian facilities that can lead the way and become good practice examples in promoting walking; not just for the reason of commuting but also as a means to achieve better health among its citizens? Authorities can even include infographics on promotions showing the number of calories you can burn for typical walking trips as well as the health benefits one can derive from walking regularly. I think there are many cities that have decent infrastructure and attractive routes to promote walking. Among them are Vigan City, Marikina City, Legazpi City, Iloilo City and Davao City. Hopefully, these cities can take the cue from Singapore in promoting walking and perhaps, too, a national agency like the Department of Health can pitch in to promote this worthwhile cause for healthier lifestyles.

Unprepared and incomplete – realizations from the APEC transport experience

Before I forget about what transpired during the holding of APEC in Manila a week ago, here’s a couple of photos I found over the internet and shared via social media.

Trapec mb1Commuters along Roxas Boulevard walk past a column of the unfinished NAIA Expressway, one of the transport infrastructure projects that has not been finished. [Photo from The Manila Bulletin]

04_APEC_Traffic_CNNPHAPEC lanes and severe traffic congestion along EDSA – there’s an opportunity here for a prrof of concept test for BRT. [Photo from Facebook]

I saw many memes and read some articles mentioning BRT specifically as one solution to Metro Manila’s transport problems. The second photo above was modified to replace the car travelling along the APEC lanes with a bus.

It is easy to imagine what could have been if the government decided to use the event and the lanes they allocated for APEC vehicles to do a ‘proof of concept’ run of BRT services or at least express bus services (what some DOTC people call high quality bus services). Perhaps what could have been done for part of the 10 billion PHP expended for APEC was to buy a fleet of brand new buses and provided these for free public transport for people who would need to commute during APEC. Services along two corridors would have sufficed – these two would have been EDSA and Roxas Boulevard. [The other option would have been to talk to bus operators and cooperate with them to organize express bus services along EDSA and Roxas Blvd.] Aggressively promoting these free services ahead of APEC would also have meant commuters, including those who usually used their own vehicles, could have opted for these transport services and not affected by the ‘carmageddon’ that ensued over that period. There should have been services to the airport terminals, too, but I will write about this in another article.

The dry run could have yielded essential data for assessing the feasibility of such bus services as an alternate to rail systems that would take much time to build. Incidentally, if the LRT Line 1 Extension to Cavite was built right after the current administration took over, that line could have already served tens of thousands of passengers from the south who regularly commuted to Metro Manila for work and school. The first photo above does not lie about just how many people could have benefited from that rail project. Meanwhile, MRT Line 3 remains dysfunctional and with its reduced capacity could not handle the demand for transport that it should have been able to carry if services had not deteriorated over the years.