Why I advocate road sharing

The vision of a walkable, commutable Metro Manila becomes even more attractive than owning a car

There are millions of pedestrians and commuters in Metro Manila. Each person has a different story to tell.

I consider myself a heavy commuter as I travel from Alabang to Ortigas via bus on a daily basis. I am one of millions who just have to deal with the daily inconvenience.

I say inconvenience because of the potholed walkways, the lurking snatcher, the second hand smoke – staples of Metro Manila public transportation.

I always thought having a car was the ticket out of the problem, but when I saw the ideas behind road sharing, things changed. I experienced a mindshift.

On Febuary 17, I joined a group that filed the road-sharing petition in the Supreme Court.

I recall it felt good, hopeful, to walk beside a hundred others to push for the cause and sue the government for not prioritizing public transportation in urban planning.

 “We the people are not hopeless, nor are we helpless,” said environmental lawyer Tony Oposa, one of many leaders behind the ‘Share The Roads’ movement.

The movement has only begun. (READ: Commuters to gov’t: Limit cars to half of the roads)

“Today we launch a peaceful revolution,” he proclaimed.

The High Court responded with a resolution directing all respondents to comment on the petition for Writ of Kalikasan within 10 days.

Almost a month since the case was filed, 6 senators have expressed support for the movement: Bam Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Frank Drilon, and Sonny Angara. 

But as with any movement, there are people who are skeptical, sometimes jaded. Where are we headed? 

Here are some quick answers to questions about sharing the road: 

WALK THIS WAY. Carlos Celdran joins the movement. Photo by Gen Cruz

On what grounds do commuters have to demand for road sharing?

The case is focused on the premise that only a small percentage of Filipinos (less than 1/8 of the population) can afford to own a private vehicle, yet the space they can occupy on the road is larger than that given to the majority who are bikers and commuters.

 

Won’t dividing the roads cause more traffic?

Oposa points out how ants can travel from point A to point B without causing traffic. A lesson from nature, this is due to the principle of the straight line. This is why trains are the most efficient form of travel. When the roads are divided, cars will be discouraged from unnecessarily switching lanes – a common contributor to traffic.

IMPATIENCE. There is a need to control vehicles on main roads for unnecessary swerving. Photo submitted by Tony Oposa.

What resources do we need to share the roads?

Compared to the P26.7 billion spent for the Skyway 3 extension project, sharing the road will cost almost nothing. To divide the roads, only a simple rope will be used to separate bike/walk lanes from car lanes.

The case to share the roads also asks the government to review existing policies on traffic control, including color coding in EDSA and the implementation of bike sharing. 

People use private cars because public transportation is dangerous

‘Share the Roads’ urges the government to prioritize the development of public transportation over private car ownership in urban planning. It is because of the public transportation’s problems that the movement was started in the first place. (READ: Public servants, take the train!)

There are several proposals being cited in the movement as possible next steps local goverment units (LGUs) can take. What if LGUs had competitions on the creation of safe walkways?

Or what about the possibilities of establishing or improving bus, pedicap, and jeepney stops, with designated times and regular intervals between trips? 

The ‘Share the Roads’ movement supports these innovations. The aim is to put the community at the heart of urban planning in Metro Manila. (READ: Greener transport offers hope for Metro Manila)

 

INNOVATION. Ideas will never be put into action when only private cars are at the center of urban planning. Photo submitted by Tony Oposa

Traffic is already terrible as it is. Implementing a new scheme will worsen traffic.

“This will not happen overnight,” Oposa said.

Should the Writ of Kalikasan be successful, implementing the divisions do not require permanent structures (and the traffic headache that comes with building them!) until new systems have been established.

To test the idea, a simple rope will be used to divide the road every Sunday, when traffic is lighter as compared to other days. From there, after assessment, it will be tested on other days until its full implementation.

The cities of Iloilo, Marikina, and Pasig have agreed to test the different components of the movement in the coming months. (READ: More bike lanes in Quezon city

Vision and solution

 TOGETHER. Private car owners and commuters join together for the Share the Roads movement. Photo by Gen Cruz

The vision of a walkable, commutable Metro Manila became even more attractive than owning my own car (and more affordable, with crazy toll and parking prices these days). It is a vision I know that is not mine alone. It is a vision I know I share with others. 

Everyday we walk together and stand together, shoulder to shoulder – yet we seldom speak. We are all aware of the problem, perhaps we can all do something about the solution. – Rappler.com

Gen Cruz is a writer and researcher at MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler. She has also done work as an advocate for marine wildlife conservation with Save the Philippine Seas. Her headshot photo was taken by Juls Rodriguez