Urban retrospect

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By Roberto P. Alabado III

Planning Perspectives

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

REVIEWING my past articles, I could see that some of my ideas or comments did their job but some just fell on deaf ears.

At last, I am biking my talk. I bought myself a nice second-hand folding bike. It serves its purpose in taking me to the malls when I pay my bills or do some grocery. Don't be surprised when you see me in my cotton slacks biking to meet one of my clients. Integrating bicycles in urban transportation is seen as one of the top solutions to traffic congestion that is being adopted by world cities. So get yourself a bicycle and do your share.

Few months back, I wrote about the dangerous manholes along F. Torres St. These are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians alike because the alignment of the concrete grills or cover of these manholes were parallel to the streets and one could easily fall through the gaps. So far, the caretakers of F. Torres - the DPWH, have played blind, deaf and maybe dumb to the dangers of their roads.


It seems that the lack of attention to proper design on road projects will just make our roads still dangerous even with the speed limits imposed in our downtown area. Our national and city roads lack road safety features that guide road users and pedestrians alike.

Pavement markings are still missing, I guess that DPWH' project designs are merely asphalt for its road overlays but do not include the basic safety features like - pavement markings - be it paint or cat's eyes to separate lanes, pedestrian crossings, as well as road signages for intersections, speed limits and other useful information for motorists. They keep widening the roads for the motorists but neglect the needs of pedestrians who now have to play the deadly game of patintero with motor vehicles just to cross the wide streets. Median barriers must be put in place to serve as opposite lanes separators as well as pedestrian islands when they cross the wide roads. Of course these were not included in the road design and budget.

The huge LED signboards still continue to mushroom along the major highways of our city. They continue to serve as distractions to drivers making them more prone to road accidents. The intensity of their brightness is so much that they could temporarily blind a driver who could crash into pedestrians crossing the road in the same area. However, I noticed that the giant LED board of SM Lanang is now somewhat dimmer and has lessen its tendency to blind passing drivers. I still stick to my recommendation that these LED boards should be parallel to the highways just like the one in front of DOH because these really are a danger to road users.

Vehicle inspections in malls still generally discriminate according to car style - ultimately income class. At least Abreeza, I have noticed that security personnel now inspect both SUVs and sedans. If we really are serious on security measures that all trunks or luggage compartments of all vehicles should be opened and inspected be it SUV, AUV, sedan, hatchbacks, pick-ups, motorcycles or delivery vans - no exemptions.

Of course, no mall even city hall has even made the smallest step in providing cyclists with the basic facilities to park their bicycles safely and convenient. We are still waiting for commercial establishments to provide proper bike parking facilities for their employees and customers alike. Perhaps when we have our own building code for our city then we can include bike racks as a required facility just as off-street parking spaces are a requirement before a building permit is given.

The power outages seem to have lessened now, much to the relief and dismay of panicky citizens of the city. They had a panic buying spree on rechargeable emergency lamps and fans and some even bought generator sets. I just settled for an old fashioned and ever-reliable storm lamp fueled by anti-mosquito citronella oil.

Now that the power supply seems stabilizing so what are they going to do with their generator sets and numerous rechargeable lamps? Let us just say that we now have an army of preppers ready when another power plant conks out of the grid again. What we need right now are heavy rains to fill up our old hydroelectric dams for sustained power before the more reliable coal-fired power plants go online nest year.

Since there is evidence that El Nino will be occurring this year, then small water impoundment projects (SWIP) in the upland areas should be given priority by the Department of Agriculture as well as the local Agriculturist's Offices in the region. These rainwater catchment facilities serve to hold water to minimize run-off that may contribute to flooding in the downstream areas but also as a source of irrigation for agricultural activities in case there is prolonged dry season.

So far, these are some of the observations that have piqued my interest these past few months. There has been a lot to talk about when it comes to urban and regional planning issues - public transportation, local economy, disaster and risk management, housing, environment, zoning, employment etc. Let us continue discussing these and start acting on some issues.

When it comes to building better communities, better towns and better cities, there is no better critique than what comes from the people. Only when we formally protest by really sending letters to our barangay and city leaders (remember that they are required to reply and act on your complaints lest they want to meet you at the Office of the Ombudsman), participate in public discussions like in the local Sanggunian, can we truly be true citizens. I know that some of us have tried these tactics before but I also learned that patience and persistence really pay off to get things acted on by the government. Nasa pangungulit lang yan.

Houses make a town, but citizens make a city. - Rousseau


Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 22, 2014.


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