Pedestrian Oriented Development

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Pedestrian Oriented Development from Niki Jon Y. Tolentino on Vimeo.

A recent CNNgo survey showed that Metro Manila is the third worst place in the world to drive, with Beihjing and New Delhi getting the first and second, respectively. If it is already worst to be in Metro Manila roads in the view of the motorist, how much more in the point of view of the pedestrian?

You know, the car or the automobile is not the main user of the streets or roads. It has been the people all along. Car is just a medium to transfer people on the streets.

Search for any vintage Manila photo and you’ll see streets packed with people, not with cars or calesas. People animate cities, people make the cities more fun and yes people in the streets makes civic life in the cities more light, if not bearable. Manila used to be walkable, but our frenzy for Los Angeles type of lifestyle made our city fall apart.

It is the pedestrians that determine the livability of the city. Take them out of the picture and you’ll see a chaotic city full of vehicles.

Of all the users of the road, Pedestrians are more vulnerable to road accidents, and more than half of all fatalities involve Pedestrians and sometimes, sidewalks for pedestrians are given up for roads. And more than half of Pedestrian Casualties are Children.

It is much worse to be a pedestrian than to be a driver in Metro Manila. Try crossing the street and you know what I mean. Being in the tropic, the climate is another contributing factor.

Some cities especially the older European ones, now espouse more pedestrian oriented development with an efficient mass transit system. Copenhagen had been doing this since the 1960’s and is one of the most pedestrian oriented city in the world. So how to make a city more pedestrian friendly?

1. Make more efficient sidewalks. Sidewalks are for the pedestrians, not for ambulant or hawkers.

2. Calm traffic speeds in some areas. To prevent potential crashes between pedestrians and vehicles, some areas impose a speed limit to calm the traffic in the area. UP Diliman uses this method.

3. Establish continuous shadings and amenities for comfort. For some congested cities, continuous arcades are done, this is manifested in the streets of Venice or locally, in Avenida, Manila. For some streets, trees are planted to provide shading, air cleansing and sound barriers to the sidewalks. Also, public toilets, benches, street lights and some visual markers like sculptures are being done.

In fairness to Metro Manila, it has a somehow functional sidewalk program but this is implemented in a City to City basis not Metrowide. I think we could do better if we have a comprehensive and Metro Manila wide pedestrian transport development. Walkable City is a good city.

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