The Philippines’ road infrastructure must prioritize the most vulnerable road users and create safe spaces for playing, exercising, and active commuting, a public transport advocate said Tuesday.
Robert Siy, a development economist and city planner from the Move As One Coalition, said priorities must be “revised” to favor pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation over private motor vehicles.
Siy said pedestrian infrastructure can be improved by creating “wide, clear, smooth” sidewalks, using paving materials that do not become slippery when wet, as well as installing more streetlights, curb ramps, and refuge islands.
“We really need to change this environment which has been very car-oriented and car-dependent. It forces people into greater car use rather than into more active transport. We need to reverse this trend,” he said at a Department of Health (DOH) forum.
Siy also said bringing down the speed limit in cities to 30 kilometers per hour or less will “deliver dramatic results in terms of reducing the incidence of injury and fatality.”
He also pointed out that street-level pedestrian crossings are better than footbridges or underpasses, which must only be used in expressways.
“Many people are unable to climb stairs and so they avoid using ‘yung underpass or ‘yung footbridge, tumatawid na rin sila sa kalsada (they end up just crossing the road),” he explained.
Siy added that “pedestrianizing” certain streets will “revitalize” neighborhoods and stir economic activity by creating safe spaces for playing, exercising, and active transportation.
The DOH, meanwhile, said road systems must be redesigned to include bike lanes and walking paths.
The agency also pushed for the establishment of a network of bicycle routes and the provision of bike facilities like racks and parking spaces in public establishments.
A November 2020 survey found that 87% of Filipinos believed roads would be better if public transportation, pedestrians, and cyclists were prioritized over private vehicles.
Last year, the government said it was eyeing bike lanes across Metro Manila as more commuters took up active transportation amid the coronavirus pandemic. -MDM, GMA News