Showing posts with label roads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roads. Show all posts

Sunday, November 19, 2017

On "phone zombies" and road safety

[This is my post for the World Day of Remembrance for all the victims of road crashes]

You see a lot of people these days who are always on their smart phones. Many are walking while doing something with their phones whether making a call, typing away, listening to music or perhaps attending to social media. Many are not aware of what are happening around them and this puts them in a situation where that increases their vulnerability. There are those who cross streets without checking for oncoming traffic. There are those walking along the roadside who are not mindful of the likelihood of being sideswiped by vehicles. As such, there is a need to address this behavioral concern to reduce the occurrence of incidents that could lead to deaths if not injuries.

There is a nice article I read recently about an initiative in the Netherlands where they installed pavement traffic lights:

Scott, G.L. (2017) "Dutch City Installs Pavement Traffic Lights to Help 'Phone Zombies'," Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/38472-dutch-city-installs-pavement-traffic-lights-to-help-phone-zombies?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=culture&utm_campaign=photo, (Last accessed 11/19/2017).

The assessment for this initiative is quite limited - one day as mentioned in the article - but is promising especially from the perspective of innovation. We need such innovative thinking in order to address the issues about safety. This is but one example of many aimed at curbing road crashes that lead to injuries and deaths particularly with respect to the most vulnerable among us.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Global Street Design Guide

Here's another quick post and more on the 'work' aspect of my life. I just wanted to share this article with a link to a Global Street Design Guide that was developed by the National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) in the United States (US). It's a nice guide that's based on the experiences of many cities in the US including transformations that have made commuting more efficient, enhanced mobility and, most important of all, improved safety. Following is the link to a more direct link to the guide:

NACTO and the Global Designing Cities Initiative Release Global Street Design Guide

This will be a good reference in the Philippines where many cities are in need of transformation to address current and future challenges in transportation.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kafe Paradiso, Mabitac, Laguna

Our road trip to Lucena in the Province of Quezon, we passed by many of the eastern towns of Rizal and Laguna. We noticed a lot of improvements in all the towns - a clear sign of progress. The last time I traveled along these roads was in September 2009 when I went to Naga City to be guest speaker at a student conference hosted by the Ateneo de Naga University. That time, it was quite rainy all throughout our drive to Naga and the trip back. There are noticeable changes (on the positive side) including residential developments with some that appear to be packaged as vacation or retirement homes. There are, of course, the usual commercial developments but we were on the lookout for eating places along our route so that we could probably stop by one of them on the way back. We drove early to Lucena so many establishments aside from the usual roadside eateries were still closed.

One of those that caught our interest is a restaurant in Mabitac, Laguna near the border of Rizal and Laguna with Kafe Paradiso is right at the entrance to what looks like a leisure farms type of residential development. They have a good menu though we didn't inquire if all the items were available. We also learned that only the development's and restaurant's owners had built a house there so far, which was also near the highway and across from the cafe along the main road of the development.

Kafe Paradiso is located along the national highway in Mabitac, Laguna
Empty tables of what we imagine to be what could be an attractive stop for people traveling to Laguna, Quezon and the Bicol Region via the Rizal route east of Metro Manila.
The cafe has a spacious interior that adheres to Philippine/Asian architecture and interiors
The owners' home across from the cafe looks to be a good design for a vacation home. The location of the development is quite far from the city and any major commercial area including the Mabitac and Pililla town centers, which could be the work places for people opting to locate here.
Japanese-inspired lanterns hang in the trees around the cafe
Kafe Paradiso's menu
Entrance to the cafe
A closer view of the facade of the cafe

It was about 4PM when we made a stopover at the cafe. We decided to have a heavy enough meal and opted to order from their all-day breakfast list thinking we can't go wrong with the classic silogs listed. I totally forgot to take a photo of one of the best tapsilogs I've tasted. It was probably due to us already being hungry. We hope to be back one day perhaps again on the way to Lucena where we likely would have a project soon. Of course, we will also be checking out other places to eat so we could enjoy the food in these towns of Rizal and Laguna.
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Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Monday, March 4, 2013

An alternate route to SLEX

The Clairvoyant and I were back again in Tagaytay during the last weekend of February to celebrate my 41st. It was an adventure of sorts as we explored an alternate route to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) via Circumferential Road 6. I suggested this for us to be familiar with this alternative route from Rizal to Bonifacio Global City, which the Clairvoyant would likely be taking between our future home and her office. The route has been mentioned as already being used by UV Express vehicles plying routes connecting Rizal towns and Global City and the Makati CBD. I have found it to be relatively uncongested with light traffic throughout the day. 

The alternate route starts from Taytay where one takes the Highway 2000 road from the Manila East Road. Highway 2000 leads to the Barkadahan Bridge, which spans the Manggahan Floodway, connecting the East Bank Road with the West Bank Road of the floodway. The road become Ejercito Avenue, which leads to another bridge across the Tapayan River, which is a tributary of the Marikina-Pasig River system. Crossing the bridge takes the traveler to a junction where C-6 begins, near one of the pumping stations that help control flooding along this dike road. C-6 passes through a densely populated area that is supposed to be a relocation area for informal settlers. The road is higher than the adjacent land, indicative that the area is prone to flooding. The road eventually leads to another bridge at the mouth of the Pasig River at Nagpayong where it proceeds all the way to Bicutan where it ends at the junction with M.L. Quezon Avenue, and where it becomes Gen. Santos Avenue. The latter ends at the Bicutan interchange of the SLEX. All in all, the route stretches across the towns of Taytay and Cainta in Rizal, Pasig City, Pateros, and Taguig City in Metro Manila.

From Taytay to Cainta: Barkadahan Bridge across the MangCainta
From Cainta to Pasig: Ejercito Avenue Bridge across the Tapayan River
Circumferential Road 6 starts in Pasig City from its junction with Ejercito Avenue
Part of C-6 is a coastal section where one could see the water lily-covered Laguna de Bay
Some sections are within Sitio Tapayan and it is obvious that the road was built to be higher in elevation compared to the surrounding areas. At left is a school building.
C-6 section approaching the bridge across the Pasig River at Nagpayong

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 3: Jonker Street at Day

Jonker Street is a well known attraction of Melaka. The area that includes adjacent streets is Melaka's Chinatown and contains an assortment of shops and restaurants. We were informed by the hotel staff that there will be a night market along Jonker Street that Saturday from 6:00 PM and the street will be closed to traffic. And so we decided to first check out the street while shopkeepers and others were setting up for the night market and took some photos while there was still daylight. The following photos were taken along Jonker before we decided to explore central Melaka last Saturday.

Colorful pedicab we first spotted along Jonker - the street was not yet closed to traffic when we took a stroll
People mixed with vehicles along Jonker at the time
The Clairvoyant and I clicked away at ever building we laid our eyes on - this building was a temple along Jonker and had many colorful features
The very popular Geographer Cafe - yup that's the Clairvoyant at the corner
Another colorful building along Jonker - this was a residential building with a small shop at the ground floor
Another residential building with a small business on the ground floor - the architecture is reminiscent of Melaka being a colonial city
Arch on the outer end of Jonker Street
Clairvoyant posing for a souvenir shot
My turn to pose at the arch
Close-up of the arch with a sponsor to boot
As expected, there were various street food at Jonker - these popsicles caught our interest as we were already feeling the heat and humidity that afternoon
For 1 RM (2.49 Malaysian Ringgit = 1 SGD) one could sample a popsicle
The Clairvoyant had a grape popsicle while I settled for orange - both refreshing treats
Facade of the popular LW Nyonya Pineapple Tarts House specializing in tarts
Looking at old photo cutouts (probably from old newspapers) showing the Melaka (or Malacca) in the old days when it was still a colony within British Malaya
Another shot of the Hokkien temple front
There were many antique and curio shops selling various items along Jonker
Facade of a small library along Jonker
Colorful balcony with Chinese lanterns along the ground floor
The very popular Jonker 88 restaurant where the queues seem to be always long - we ate here in later that Saturday
The stage was set for some event that night with sponsorship from snack giant Mister Potato and England's Manchester United
Street food at Chinatown will not be complete without dumplings

We were intrigued with the spiral potato fries and watched at a stall while they employed a simple gadget to slice and "stretch" the potato on a stick
Fellow visitors exploring what shops at Jonker had to offer
Immense water dragon at the corner of Jonker Street spewing water for lucky visitors
The dragon was also had its own sponsor and photo ops here was quite popular that it was difficult to get a good shot without other people posing at the fountain.
Next: Jonker at night!
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tragedy and mockery

Friday the 13th turned out to be tragic to a faculty member of the College of Mass Communications of the University of the Philippines Diliman. Prof. Lourdes Estella-Simbulan was killed when a bus hit the taxi she was riding along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City at around 6:00 PM yesterday. By the looks of the crumpled taxi cab shown in photos and videos taken by the media, it would have been a miracle if she survived such a crash.

Adding insult to injury were reports that the bus driver fled after the incident. The name of the bus company is not familiar to me despite our Center currently immersed in a project developing a planning support system for public transportation that included a database component that required us collecting data on companies and operators of public transport in Metro Manila. I suspect that the bus is one of those fly-by-night units taking advantage of the night in operating illegally or maybe one that is part of the kabit system that would be difficult to take to task by the HPG or the LTFRB. It is indeed a mockery of traffic rules and regulations that drivers can get away with murder when they are involved in crashes such as this. It is even more frustrating that the most common reason mentioned by drivers when asked why they drive recklessly is that they are just “naghahanap buhay” or earning a living. Such is unacceptable and those charged to bring order to traffic should be decisive and assertive on acting to prevent such crashes from happening again.

To me there is some irony in what had transpired considering that a couple of days ago, the Philippine joined other countries around the world in launching a program geared towards the reduction of road crashes and victims in the next ten years. Forget about the decade – there is a need to reduce crashes and victims NOW. This is because people are getting killed (or dare I say murdered) now, and there are terrible costs even as I write this post.

The College of Mass Communications is a partner in our advocacy for road traffic safety. In fact, that college produced a video for driver education that was supported by resources extended by the private sector led by the Automobile Association Philippines and Toyota Motor Philippines. I am sure that their faculty are now wondering if their efforts have been to naught considering the proliferation of drivers disregarding traffic rules and regulations, throwing caution to the air when they drive their vehicles.

On my part as head of a Center providing training to public utility vehicle drivers, I feel responsible and frustrated at the same time as I question myself if indeed our efforts are even having the slightest influence to improve PUV drivers’ behaviors. In fact, I have been admonishing participants in our training courses about how they sit in and pretend to learn, and then go out and drive like hell. I just hope that the driver involved in the crash that killed Prof. Simbulan is not among those whom we trained at the Center. It would be a shame and one that makes a mockery out of our efforts in promoting road safety. It is our failure as educators that our students and trainees do not practice what they are taught in terms of road safety. We just take it with a grain of salt, so to speak, that responsibility for such PUV drivers’ behavior can also be linked to a flawed licensing system as well as shortcomings in the regulations of public transport services. Indeed, we have our work cut out for us and we can only hope that our persistent efforts would eventually prevail and lead to a significant improvement to safety along our roads.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

All roads lead to Antipolo, Part 2

Antipolo has been a popular pilgrimage site since the Spanish Period ever since the reports of miracles performed through the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. These include her image being reportedly found among the Antipolo tree that is the basis for the name of the town that now is a highly urbanized city and capital to the Province of Rizal. Rizal, of course, is the name of the province that once was generally called Morong. One town of the province still bears that name and it, too, has a beautiful, picturesque church. The Shrine is often visited by those seeking safe travel, perhaps these days it has even become more popular due to the tremendous numbers of overseas foreign workers (OFWs) employed abroad. Antipolo is also allegedly the richest among the most popular shrines or churches in the Philippines, supposedly ahead of Quiapo (Black Nazarene), Cebu (Sto. Nino), Baclaran (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), Naga (Penafrancia) and Manaoag (Our Lady of Manaoag), though not necessarily in that order. I think I read about this in one of Ambeth Ocampos' columns from the Inquirer.

The popularity of the Shrine is so much so that a road was built to directly connect it with Manila, particularly to Intramuros where the seat of government was at the time. This road is most probably along the corridor that is now Ortigas Avenue. Of course, in the Spanish Period, this would be a more general route that would have likely included many rough trails considering that the Ortigas we know now was only developed in the 1970's. I witnessed this when we moved from Manadaluyong to Cainta in 1976, often seeing huge machines work their way along what is now Valle Verde to carve out a wider right of way for Ortigas Avenue.

During the American Period, the trams operated by the Manila Electric Rail and Light Company (MERaLCo) included a line that went up to Antipolo. Those trams were the state of the art and representative of high technology in public transportation in those years after the turn of the century and a line to Antipolo reinforced the shrine's importance to many people and the government's recognition of this. The tram network, which was probably the most developed in Southeast Asia if not in Asia at the time, was destroyed during World War 2 and was never rebuilt for some reason. It is something that Metro Manila now continues to regret if only to postulate what might have beens and what could have beens if the network was revived after the war. Of course, this bit of history is related to the eventual rise of the jeepneys but that is another story for another post. Nevertheless, there still exists in Antipolo some remnants of the tram's glory days and it is remembered as a road which is still called "daang bakal," as the railways were fondly called then and now.

There are now many ways from Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces to Antipolo, although several of these eventually merge into three main roads en route to the Shrine. One is via the old route along Ortigas Avenue, a second is the route via Sumulong Highway, and the third is through a "back door" via the Antipolo-Teresa Road. Routes from the general areas of Manila, Makati, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Taguig and the southern cities of Metro Manila and towns from Laguna, Batangas and Cavite will most likely merge to Ortigas Avenue. Meanwhile, people coming from Quezon City, Caloocan, Marikina, Bulacan, Pampanga and the northern Rizal towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez (Montalban) will likely converge along Sumulong Highway. Meanwhile, those coming from the east including the Rizal towns like Tanay, Teresa, Morong, and Jala-jala, the Laguna towns like Paete, Pakil, Pangil, the Quezon towns of Luisiana, Lucban, Infanta and General Nakar, and others will most likely take the Antipolo-Teresa Road that climbs from the east of Antipolo. People from Marikina, Cainta and Pasig generally may take either the Ortigas or the Marcos Highway/Sumulong Highway route.

Public transport to Antipolo these days include mostly jeepneys as the city is the end point of many routes - a testament to its importance even as a reference point for public transportation. One can easily spot the Antipolo-Cubao jeepneys in the Araneta Center in the Cubao business district in Quezon City. There are two lines, one via Cainta Junction (where jeepneys eventually turn to Ortigas Avenue) and another via Marcos Highway, turning at the Masinag Junction towards Sumulong Highway). Another terminal is at the EDSA Central near the Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong where Antipolo-Crossing jeepneys are queued. And still there is another, albeit somewhat informal terminal near Jose Rizal University (JRU, which was formerly a college and hence the old JRC endpoint), which passes through Shaw Boulevard, Meralco Avenue and eventually turns towards Ortigas Avenue. Other jeepneys from the Rizal towns all have routes ending in Antipolo simbahan, referring to the shrine.

There are now also multicabs, shuttles offering express trips between Antipolo and the same end points of Cubao or Crossing. Others go all the way to Makati in the Ayala financial district. These evolved out of the Tamaraw FX taxis that started charging fixed fares during the 1990's and competed directly with the jeepneys. These are popular, however, with office employees and students during weekdays and the nature of their ownerships and operations do not make them serious competitors to the jeepneys during the merry month of May and the Lenten Holy Week.

There was an Antpolo Bus Line before. These were the red buses that plied routes between Antipolo and Divisoria in Manila. These died out sometime between the late 80's and the early 90's probably due to decreasing profitability and likely because of its competition with the jeepneys. That bus company, along with the green-colored G-Liners, the red EMBCs (Eastern Metropolitan Bus Co.) and CERTs, and the blue Metro Manila Transit Corp. buses used to form a formidable mass transport system for Rizal and the eastern towns of Metro Manila. There were even mini-buses (one I recall were the Antipolo "baby" buses and those that plied routes betwen Binangonan and Recto). Most of these, except the G-Liners eventually succumbed to the jeepneys.

In the future, perhaps the jeepneys should give way to buses as the latter will provide a higher level and quality of service along Ortigas Avenue and Marcos and Sumulong Highways. Already in the drawing boards is a plan to ultimately extend LRT Line 2, which currently terminates at Santolan, Pasig, to Masinag Junction and then have a branch climb along Sumulong Highway and terminate near the shrine. This will bring back the trains to Antipolo and would surely make the church and the city very accessible to people. I look forward to these developments both in my capacity as a transportation researcher-engineer and a Catholic who also visits the Shrine to pray for safe travel for loved ones and myself.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back in Manila: Quick Comparisons

I couldn't help but make a few quick comparisons of Manila and Singapore upon my return to my country and write about these while they are still quite fresh in my mind. Being in the field of transportation, the first thing I noticed when we drove from the airport was that the roads were so bumpy with potholes here and there. In most sections where asphalt is used, the overlay is poorly executed, resulting in an uneven ride. The impacts of such not only to the passengers but to the vehicle itself are often unappreciated and drivers do not realize the effects of such "quality" of roads on their fuel consumption, emissions and yes, vehicle suspensions.

Another comparison dawned upon me when we negotiated the short tunnel as we ascended the C5 section from E. Rodriguez to Katipunan. The tunnel was still poorly lighted though there was a slight improvement from the old lighting installed when the tunnel became operational many years ago. The tunnel walls were dirty, and this was clear to any observer because of the white tiles used for the walls that were supposed to be low maintenance (assuming of course, that regular maintenance was performed by whoever was in-charge). It seems to me that most, if not all, our tunnels are just that - poorly lighted and dirty. These are the equivalent of poor maintenance of what was already a poorly designed infrastructure.

These are a stark contrast to the very impressive road infrastructure in Singapore, where the highway pavements are of excellent quality and the tunnels very clean and well lighted. Is it because they are a wealthy city-state that they can afford to have these and we can't? Or is it just a matter of those responsible for our infrastructure not being able to deliver the quality we desire and we deserve considering the taxes we pay?

While some people might consider my quick comparisons as perhaps something that led to hasty conclusions, I would like to remind the reader that what I just wrote about are pretty much established facts that anyone can plainly see and experience going around either Manila or Singapore. It seems that when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure, we accept these as something we would have to endure for the rest of our lives when it does not have to be like that. Are our taxes really working for us or are they working for our inconvenience ( an obvious spin to the signs we commonly see when there is road construction - "Sorry for the inconvenience. Your taxes are working for you." )? Or maybe some people aren't paying their taxes or the right taxes? These are quite serious questions regarding our taxes but the point probably isn't just whether our taxes are enough but if these revenues are actually used wisely and efficiently. What kind of leaders have we had and do we have now that we still have poor road infrastructure and in the capital city at that?

I will write about this more in future blogs here and in my other account. I think it is my way of reflecting during this Holy Week that I feel obliged to document these stuff and offer my humble yet scathing opinions not just as a civil servant but as a citizen of this country who has not given up (yet) in as far as putting an honest effort to improve quality of life in our beloved country.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Safety First

Road traffic accidents are already regarded in the same breath as killer diseases. The World Health Organization ranks it among the top ten (9th as of 2004) causes of death together with strokes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and influenza. The WHO’s Global Status Report predicts that road traffic injuries will rise to become the 5th leading cause of deaths worldwide by 2030 while already being the top cause of death for 15 to 29 year olds. However, like many diseases, traffic accidents can be prevented or if “diagnosed,” can be “treated.” Moreover, we already have a wealth of resources including tools to enable us to address the problem. A major roadblock seems to be that we have not yet been able to bring all these resources together as government agencies and the private sector entities continue to struggle in cooperating to slow down the rapid increase in the number of traffic accidents.

There are no quick solutions or cures to this disease. We can, however, treat symptoms to alleviate its impacts – among which are economic losses that are estimated to be in excess of US$ 2 billion a year for the entire country. Diagnosis of the symptoms is the collective responsibility of the DPWH, local government units, and the Highway Patrol Group with the enabling of the DOTC through the LTO. Road safety audits should be undertaken for major roads and this know-how needs to be transferred to local governments for them to make similar assessments for local roads. It is necessary for the HPG to intensify their campaign in monitoring roads as well as apprehending errant motorists even for minor offenses. But the latter should not do this “to instill fear in the heart of motorists and pedestrians” as some officials have often declared but rather to firmly establish a culture of responsible motoring and discipline for road users through informed, fair and consistent enforcement.

In Metro Manila, there are a significant number of accidents occurring everyday but these are not all reported and recorded. Such are relegated to the profusion of anecdotal information going around about how frequent and how serious accidents have become in the metropolis. However, with the installation of video cameras at critical locations around the metro provides an opportunity not just for monitoring and recording but for studying the behavior of drivers, riders and pedestrians. Footage from the cameras, if clear enough, may also be used to go after traffic violators.

Local government units including the MMDA would do well in refraining from overdoing efforts that employ unconventional or unorthodox methods for traffic engineering and management. While “out of the box” solutions have been successful to a certain extent, caution must be exercised when applying these schemes elsewhere. The prevailing practice is to over-generalize the application of traffic schemes resulting in what are continuing experimentations that bring about situations that lead to accidents as well as traffic congestion.

I’ve always taught my students that it is important to go back to the basics when dealing with the safety aspect of roads. In highway design we have to keep in mind that there are many elements that come into play including those concerning the vehicles, the drivers, and the environment. Key to the design is to have an understanding of the interactions that take place among the elements for one to be able to come up with a suitable design. Such are the basis for design speeds and curvatures as well as determining the appropriate traffic control or management schemes for the road. One has to ensure the natural movement of vehicles as well as enable conditions where motorists are able to assess the situation on the road with minimal complications that may bring about drive error. Failure to account for the design elements or to understand the interactions among the elements will lead to higher risk of accidents. Thus, a person can have all the skills and experience of a good driver and still be involved in an accident due to a poorly designed (or located) island or barrier. Also, a person could be the best defensive driver and yet be hit by a drunken driver or a motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic.

Highways need not be declared as traffic discipline zones if efforts are firm, consistent and sustained for all roads. It is understandable though if authorities would want to focus on particular corridors or areas in order to gain quick wins and confidence in the campaign for safe roads. However, such campaign must be fought simultaneously along several fronts. It is here that the DOTC through the LTO and the LTFRB should play a lead and active role especially since they have the mandate in as far as licensing and franchising are concerned. In addressing the accidents involving public transportation, for example, it is recommended that stricter policies be formulated and implemented with respect to licensing and employing drivers, and that operators be made accountable for accidents. There should also be initiatives towards emphasizing transport as a service rather than a business and a source of livelihood or employment.

Road traffic accidents have become an occurrence that is too common. The newspapers relate stories of men, women and children being victims of accidents. Television and radio news programs report incidents round the clock; often putting the spotlight on those involving public transport and particularly ones that have resulted in fatalities. All these scream the obvious and that is that our roads are unsafe. We are all vulnerable whether we are behind the wheel, a passenger of a public utility vehicle, or maybe a pedestrian just standing at roadside.

For now, it is important to sustain the sense of urgency generated by the recent spate of accidents and take advantage of this increased awareness and clamor for safe roads. The opportunity for genuine reforms that would lead to safer roads is here and it is imperative that we act decisively. Needless to say, this will require strong commitment and cooperation among various stakeholders to ensure success in reducing the rate of traffic accidents and making our roads safe for the present and future generations.