People-Centered Traffic Management | Manila weather

EVERYWHERE in the Philippines, traffic managers in local governments have a big influence on mobility outcomes. Traffic management units are responsible for how people and vehicles move on local roads. They formulate and apply traffic rules and regulations. They design the way people and vehicles move at intersections. They have a say in how roads are planned and used.

Traditionally, traffic management has focused on the movement of vehicles rather than the movement of people and this is a fundamental problem. The goal in many localities is to speed up the flow of vehicles. When private motor vehicles are given priority, other road users – commuters, pedestrians and cyclists – are often worse off. Trees are cut, sidewalks are narrowed and cycle lanes are removed to give more road space to private motor vehicles. Unfortunately, car-centric traffic management practices generally lead to worsening mobility, even for people in cars.

Traffic management should aim to improve the mobility of all Filipinos. The vast majority of Filipinos without a car are and should be the main “customers” of traffic managers. In Metro Manila, only 11.5% of households own cars, and the percentage is even lower outside Metro Manila. Since most Filipinos depend on public and non-motorized transportation for getting around, the goal of traffic managers everywhere should be to make walking, cycling and public transportation as safe, convenient and secure. effective as possible.

There appears to be significant public support for a “overhaul” of our traffic management practices. Recent surveys confirm that the majority of Filipinos favor people-centered approaches (rather than vehicles). In a November 2020 survey of social weather stations, 87% of those polled agreed with the view that roads should be a priority for public transport, walking and cycling, and 85% wanted their localities become excellent places for walking and cycling. These sentiments dominated the survey results in all geographies and income groups.

National policies already call for people-centered traffic and transport policies, but implementation is lagging behind. The rules and regulations for implementing the National Transport Policy (NEDA, 2017) stress the importance of giving priority to people rather than vehicles in traffic management and road use:

– “Inclusive mobility and accessibility must be achieved by prioritizing the mobility of people over the mobility of vehicles. In line with global best practice, public transport and shared modes of transport will be given priority in the use of public goods, including roads of all kinds. In addition, provisions for non-motorized and active transport, such as walking and cycling, should be incorporated into the design and implementation of transport projects. (article 12.9)

– “When redesigning or extending roads or constructing new roads, more people will be taken into account rather than vehicles. In this regard, the design and evaluation of road and bridge projects must take into account the combination of modes of transport. (including public transport, walking and cycling) which will optimize the flow of people. “(Article 25.1)

– “A people-centered mobility paradigm should be instilled in policy makers, legislators, government officials, planners, police and traffic officers at national and local levels. “(Article 26.1)

There is a strong logic behind the principle of “moving people, not cars” on our roads. Private motor vehicles are the least efficient and environmentally destructive users of road space. Giving cars more road space doesn’t solve traffic – it ends up attracting more car use, leading to worsening traffic jams and pollution (we already know this from decades of failed enlargement experiments. roads). On the other hand, the road space devoted to pedestrians, cyclists or public transport can move five to ten times more people than using the same road space for passenger cars.

In every city and town in the Philippines, there are plenty of opportunities to make the streets safer and more welcoming to bikes, pedestrians and public transport. Traffic managers can experiment with “pedestrianization” of selected roads (allowing residents’ vehicles to enter and exit but prohibit “through vehicle traffic”). They may designate certain streets as “shared”, where motor vehicles are allowed but only at low speed (30 km / h limit) and pedestrians and bicycles have priority at all times. Another option is to make a road or bridge “car-free” and only allow public transport, pedestrians and bicycles. Traffic lights at intersections can also be designed to favor transit, pedestrian and cyclist traffic over private motorists.

Road space for cars can be converted into dedicated lanes for public transport, networks of protected cycle lanes and wider sidewalks for pedestrians. Converting road space to these more efficient uses also creates a virtuous circle, providing people with faster, more reliable, low-cost, low-pollution and climate-friendly travel options. Safer spaces for pedestrians and bicycles will also save lives. And if motorists abandon their vehicles in favor of more efficient options, it will mean fewer cars and less traffic on our roads.

Today, as the mobility of Filipinos is severely limited by the limited capacity of public transport, when the pandemic requires well-ventilated and physically distant transport, and when there is increased pressure to use private motor vehicles , there is no better time to reorient our traffic management in order to promote inclusive, efficient and environmentally friendly modes of travel. The crucial ingredient is not infrastructure but political will.

Please share these messages with your local officials, especially those campaigning for the 2022 elections.

Robert Y. Siy is a development economist, town planner and planner, and advocate for public transport. He can be contacted at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @RobertRsiy

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