Caught (up) in traffic

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Challenges for students commuting to/from schools

Its our first day of school for our daughter today. But unlike her, I recall that I had to wake up early when I was in grade school and high school because the ‘service’ providing transport  to and from school had to pick me up and then others. That usually meant a 5:30 AM wake up, a quick shower, dress-up (we wore uniforms) and breakfast before the ‘service’, an AUV, picked me up at home. School started at 7:30 AM and it took something like 45 minutes (depending on traffic) from our last pick-up to get to school at exactly 7:30. If our vehicle is able to finish pick-ups earlier, that meant we were assured of not being late for homeroom period. If the other kids (and there are many) are running late and we end up waiting longer for each, then we would likely be late. In many cases, our driver would have to resort to being reckless in order to make the time.

Nowadays, I think its much more difficult for kids due to the worsening traffic congestion. What was a 30 to 45-minute travel time between our home in Cainta to Pasig/Mandaluyong is now easily twice or longer that. And I am only referring to a direct trip. Even with Waze available, one can only have few options for routes between home and school.

While there are still many school ‘service’ vehicles (and not so many actually buses), many parents seem to have opted to Ateneo, for example, used to have a fleet of buses transporting students. These were replaced by AUVs and vans accredited by the school, and the many (too many?) private vehicles ferrying mostly individual students to and from their Quezon City campus.

School children have to wake up early to go to school. Some probably take their breakfasts as baon in order to save time for traveling. Some take their breakfasts at nearby eateries or fast-food restaurants.

Many children may be at risk as they are ferried to school via motorcycles and usually without helmets. In other cases, there are tricycles acting as school service vehicles. Often these are overloaded with children and their school bags.

Pedestrian facilities are also lacking in many cases and particularly in rural areas where public schools are located along highways that have no sidewalks or cities where pedestrian walkways are not built to standards for one reason or another. These are issues that need to be addressed and would be nice topics for research, especially those with practical and safety applications.

Some articles on walking, biking and transit for wellness

Here are a couple of recent articles on walking, biking and transit:

Walk, bike, and transit benefits boost people of all incomes [McAnaney, P. in Greater Greater Washington, June 13, 2017]

“Bikes are happiness machines.” Behind the Handlebars with cyclist extraordinaire Joe Flood [Maisler, R. in Greater Greater Washington, June 7, 2017]

I posted these partly for future reference but also to promote walking, biking and public transport. These are essential elements for mobility anywhere and governments should ensure that people have these as options for traveling about and not be dependent on automobiles for transport.

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.