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Designing for walking and cycling

There are current discussions regarding the highway and street designs mostly from the perspective of safety. These discussions include those hosted by the academe and those posed as challenges by practitioners, mainly architects with experience designing similar facilities abroad and who are advocating for more people-friendly designs. Such discussions are slowly but steadily gaining traction in the Philippines but has met with some resistance in the form of key persons and agencies not giving due attention to the design challenges being posed that would have implications on planning and design guidelines. That is, the implications of promoting people-friendly designs in our roads will require changes in the National Building Code as well as the Highway Planning Manual of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). These changes will include standards and specifications for the geometric design of walkways and bikeways integrated into our roads and a departure from the current approach that basically treats pedestrian and cycle facilities as an afterthought to motorways.

I’m posting a few photos I took from a recent visit to Yokohama, Japan, which was my home for 3 years back in the 1990s. Much has changed in Yokohama since I last visited in 2008 but notable are the people friendly transport infrastructure including pedestrian and cycling facilities. Following are photos taken in the Minato Mirai district of the city.

2013-10-09 13.19.20Pedestrian and cycling lanes along the main road of Yokohama’s Minato Mirai district. The tree-lined street provides a conducive environment for walking and cycling.

2013-10-09 13.19.59Depending on how one sees it, Minato Mirai Odori is a 10-lane road with 4 lanes allocated for walking and cycling (i.e., 1 lane each on either side of the lanes for motor vehicles).

2013-10-09 16.28.55Pedestrian bridge connecting Minato Mirai Odori with the World Porters commercial development

2013-10-09 16.30.59A 10-lane bridge with 2 of 5 lanes per direction devoted for walking and cycling. That’s a full lane of at least 3.2 meters allocated for pedestrians and another full lane for cyclists.  While it is not shown in the photo, the pedestrian and cycling lanes are efficiently utilized during the peak periods.

Motomachi

It’s December again and during this month I like to reminisce about favorite places I went to or still go to here and abroad. One of my favorite haunts during the time I called Yokohama my home city was the Yamate area. I went to Mass every Sunday at Yamate Catholic Church. After church, friends and I descend towards the Motomachi shopping street to take strolls, window shop or have lunch in one of the many restaurants along the street. I think it is a good example of a shopping street that’s also found in many other places particularly in Europe and the US. It provides a better environment compared to the large malls we often find in many cities including Metro Manila.

IMG07153-20131009-1552On-street parking spaces are provided along one side of several sections of along the street.  There are parking meters at these spaces.

IMG07154-20131009-1552It is a nice place to take a walk whether doing actual shopping, window shopping or just a simple stroll to while away the time.

IMG07155-20131009-1554I like the brick road of Motomachi and the restaurants and shops lining the street.

IMG07156-20131009-1556Benches where people can sit down, take a short rest or wait for their companions who are shopping at a nearby store.

IMG07157-20131009-1557Motomachi Union where I used to do some groceries whenever I’m in the area (usually Sundays after Mass at Yamate Church).

IMG07159-20131009-1605A look back to Motomachi as I approached the JR Ishikawacho Station.

There used to be a Indian restaurant at one of the side streets of Motomachi. The chef of the restaurant was a Sri Lankan Catholic who was a church mate at Yamate. We often went to eat there after Mass or on occasion. He would usually adjust the ingredients of our favorite curry and tandoori dishes so they weren’t too hot or spicy for our palates. I wonder where he is now with his family and hope they are doing very well.

There also used to be some clubs or pubs at the end of Motomachi. These included one that was operated by Filipinos that had the Philippine flag displayed. Those establishments are long gone, replaced by newer restaurants and shops as well as a building leading to the underground station of the Tokyu Minato Mirai Line. I know there are also a lot of new, still undiscovered shops and restaurants in the side streets to Motomachi. I look forward to going around the area again soon to check out these places.

YCAT – Yokohama City Air Terminal

The Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT) is one of two city air terminals in the Kanto area, the other being the Tokyo City Air Terminal (TCAT). I have used both in the past including my first trip to Japan where I was instructed to proceed to TCAT where I met with a good friend of mine who took me to the university I was visiting. The second time I went to Japan, I proceeded to YCAT where eventual friends also fetched me to go to the university where I was to study for 3 years. On this sentimental journey of sorts, I made sure to take a few photos at the YCAT, which I chose over my usual Yokosuka-Sobu Airport Narita train between Yokohama and the airport.

2013-10-11 11.23.11The YCAT is located at the Sky Building, which used to be the tallest building in Yokohama. The building is connected to Yokohama Station (East Exit). Proceeding left takes one to the departure lounge where people can purchase limousine bus tickets. To the right is the arrival lounge where people can wait for passengers arriving from either Haneda or Narita via limousine bus.

2013-10-11 11.23.33Main entrance to the YCAT right next to a popular coffee shop. Here, one can purchase tickets for Haneda Airport or Narita Airport, exchange currencies and even make some last minute souvenir shopping.

2013-10-11 11.41.12There are also many vending machines for those who just want a quick hot or cold drink.

2013-10-11 11.41.19Airport limousine bus tickets can be purchased at these counters. The electronic boards provide information about bus schedules between YCAT and Haneda or Narita Airport. There is also a Travelex counter for currency exchange and a Western Union counter for sending or receiving money transfers.

2013-10-11 11.41.27One can make some last minute shopping at the YCAT shop.

2013-10-11 11.44.54Coin lockers for travelers who might just want to keep their luggage secure while spending a little more time in the area for a meal or some shopping. Note that YCAT is located at the Sky Building, which is connected to shopping malls and Yokohama Station.

2013-10-11 11.45.06Airport flight information for departures and arrivals.

2013-10-11 11.45.14Other information on travel and events at the YCAT include brochures and posters.

IMG07169-20131011-1155Airport Limousine Bus bound for Narita Airport arriving at the YCAT – luggage are tagged so limousine bus staff at the airport terminals can identify which bags are to be unloaded at which terminals.

IMG07170-20131011-1156Stop 1 is for Narita-bound buses while Stop 2 is for Haneda-bound buses.

Airport limousine bus at Narita

There are several options for passengers to travel between Narita Airport and their destinations in the Kanto area. There are many train services connecting the airport to Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba or other destinations. These include the Narita Express (N’EX), the Airport Narita trains of the JR Yokosuka-Sobu Line, and the Keisei Skyliner. Another option is to take limousine buses from the airport, which includes the Airport Limousine bus from Narita. Information on fares and schedules are available from the internet links I provided.

IMG06520-20130729-1326The Airport Limousine counter at the arrival area where passengers may inquire about services and purchase tickets.

IMG06528-20130729-1404Bus stops are located just outside Narita Terminal 1

IMG06530-20130729-1404The information boards on Airport Limousine stops provide information for the next bus for a particular destination in both Japanese and English.

IMG06531-20130729-1404Smoking areas are located outside the airport and are enclosed. There is air-conditioning for ventilation.

IMG06532-20130729-1409A Limousine Bus bound for the Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT) is shown loading passengers. I used to take this bus as an alternate for going to Yokohama. My other option was the Airport Narita trains of the JR Yokosuka-Sobu Line.

IMG06533-20130729-1415Back of a bus bound for Shibuya and Futako Tamagawa in western Tokyo.

2013-07-29 13.28.51Airport Limousine Bus ticket from Narita to Akasaka

2013-07-29 13.29.14Baggage claim stub

When I was still residing in Yokohama, I usually took the train to Narita and the bus when returning from the airport and via YCAT. This was because I usually travelled lighter when going to Manila than when I was returning since I brought back some food items for times when I was feeling homesick and longed for something familiar to eat. Cost-wise, the airport limousine bus service cost a bit more but was more convenient for my return trips. Later, in my stays at Saitama, the obvious choice was the bus to and from Narita through Omiya Station as traveling by rail was more complicated due to the transfers. The additional cost is easily justified by the convenience and comfort provided by the bus service.