Legarda: Practice road-sharing, don't be car-centric
MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to make Metro Manila more livable, Senator Loren Legarda is urging local government units and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to implement a road-sharing scheme, where half of the roads will be set aside exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists.
To promote this, the senator introduced a provision in the 2016 national budget which allows the use of funds from the MMDA's transport and traffic management services for road-sharing activities.
"It's about time the government puts an end to our car-centric approach to mobility which encourages usage of private vehicles while marginalizing those who have no option but to take public transportation," Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said in a statement on Sunday, January 10.
Based on the 2016 General Appropriations Act, the MMDA has P85,827,000 allocated for transport and traffic management services.
A special provision states that the amount "shall also be used for road-sharing activities such as the promotion of non-motorized transport and conduct of programs and projects that are geared towards improving people mobility."
Legarda said government agencies should develop a scheme that allocates 50% of the road to bike lanes, sidewalks for pedestrians, and urban gardens where the public can rest and take shelter. The other half of the road will be for vehicles.
"We need to be open-minded about road-sharing and to exhaust all possibilities of giving this program a chance. We owe it to our citizens, especially those who labor each day for their families, to improve their way of life," Legarda said.
A dry run of the proposed road-sharing scheme along main thoroughfare EDSA was supposed to take place in June 2015, but was later postponed due to a fun run, road repairs, and "administrative difficulties," among other reasons.
Environmental advocates earlier hailed the proposal, saying that it can reduce traffic in Metro Manila and even help stem the worsening air quality in the metro. (READ: Why I advocate road sharing)
Having more cyclists and pedestrians also means fewer cars. Vehicles are the main cause of 80% of air pollution in Metro Manila.
Only about 1% of Filipinos own cars, according to environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr, but they dominate road space in the Philippines – leaving majority of Filipinos fighting for space on narrow, uneven sidewalks and bike lanes.
Oposa welcomed Legarda's support for the road-sharing movement and her move to institutionalize the principle into the 2016 budget.
He also said that a road-sharing exercise will be held in Manila on February 7.
The 5.5-km stretch of Roxas Boulevard from Intramuros to the Mall of Asia will be the site of the event, where half of the road will be set aside for non-motorized transport, while the other half will be dedicated to public transportation and high-occupancy private vehicles. – Rappler.com