City eyes walking, cycling as top modes of transport

The city will be pushing to elevate walking and cycling to the top of the hierarchy of modes of transportation in the next few years.

City Planning Officer Ivan Cortez, in an interview, said that this would be among the major parts of a proposal to create a comprehensive transport and traffic master plan.

Cortez said that the plan is expected to be completed by October this year.
However, Cortez admitted that this would be an uphill battle as the city is not yet a pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

“We’re too far from getting there,” Cortez said.

“At least there’s an appreciation by the department heads (of the need for a more interconnected transport accessibility),” he said.

Cortez was referring to some department heads who were sent on a benchmarking mission to Brisbane in Australia from May 20 to 27 to see the transport systems there.

The official said that the visit to Brisbane “spelled out which modes of transportation to be prioritized.”

At the moment, walking and cycling is at the bottom of the hierarchy of transportation here.

At the top so far is the use of private vehicles, which Cortez said made up for 80% of the total vehicles plying the roads here.

“Dabawenyos do not like walking,” Cortez said. However, he said that this was more of a behavioral effect. “It’s not that Dabawenyos are lazy, it’s just that our infrastructure does not encourage walking.”
This is why, he said, Dabawenyos prefer riding trisikads (or passenger bicycles with sidecars) instead of walking.

Along areas like CM Recto Street, for example, old structures have awnings that protect pedestrians from rain or the heat of the sun.

Outside this, residents have to fend for themselves to walk from one establishment to another. There are sidewalks, but the infrastructures don’t promote walking. This is especially true during times of extreme heat or heavy rain, when pedestrians get stuck in areas.

In an earlier interview, City Transport and Traffic Management Office head Dionisio Abude said he was particularly interested in a massive interconnectivity among the different modes of transportation.

In the proposed system, pedestrians have direct interconnected access to the different modes, including the proposed monorail that would span Bangkal towards Lanang in a 15-kilometer railway passing through the city’s main roads.

The project is currently at the review stage of the Department of Transportation.

The city had passed in the last five years an ordinance providing for safe biking lanes at the right side of roads.

However, without a transportation improvement plan, Cortez said the city could not simply implement the bike lane ordinance.

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