City Hall assesses road share trial; Intersections ‘not designed’ for it
Cebu City officials are assessing feedback on Sunday’s road-sharing experiment amid complaints of traffic congestion in four major roads where half of the lanes were reserved for pedestrians from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Acting Mayor Edgar Labella said he will wait for the assessment report of the traffic group.
Whether or not City Hall will allow a repeat of the scheme will depend on the post-event evaluation and Mayor Michael Rama, when he returned from abroad next week.
Labella said he is waiting for Citom chief Raffy Yap’s report on the traffic impact and the assessment of the Movement for a Livable Cebu (MLC) which led the experiment to highlight the benefits of more pedestrian-friendly lanes in the city.
Yap, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) executive director, said existing road intersections aren’t designed for traffic flow coming from the opposite direction.
The limitation slowed down the flow of vehicles using the outer lanes of Osmeña Boulevard, General Maxilom Avenue, Gorordo Avenue and Escario street.
Yap said the experiment wasn’t a traffic management activity but a test of the idea of road-sharing.
“From the traffic management perspective, it is not something that we hope to happen again. But if we look at the city management perspective, it is something that may happen again but we need more time for information dissemination,” Yap added.
Marc Canton, MLC lead convenor, said 1,500 to 2,000 people were on the streets to join the experiment,and that the group is still gathering field reports for an assessment.
In a Facebook message , he thanked Citom and the city government for supporting “a citizen-based experiment to find solutions to our growing problems resulting from our rabidly urbanizing metro area.”
“MLC takes responsibility and accountability with other lead organizers for all the good and bad that happened (Sunday).) If we could have done more of something, then yes we could have; or if we had chosen a shorter route, yes we could have. What’s important is, we did it and the first Greeen Loop experiment is now history.”
He said the exercise was “a small first step” in arriving at a comprehensive master plan for Cebu City based on facts, since urban problems of traffic, flooding, pollutions etc. need the help of all Cebuanos” and asked the public to “let us give this a chance to develop.”
The Green Loop Concept, the product of academe-industry professionals in urban planning in Cebu, was initially endorsed by Mayor Rama and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Canton said the group will review all feedback “so it would help us design the next experiment as w e strive towards an optimal solution for our city and our metro area.”
Canton, in an interview, said last Sunday’s experiment also showed the lack of road discipline of some Cebuanos.
“Some people are not ready to obey traffic rules. They cross the streets even on red lights,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Yap said Citom noted traffic build up along the four-kilometer route and nearby roads started after 30 minutes. Traffic flow normalized when the event ended at 7 p.m.
Citom deployed 30 enforcers to man traffic intersections. About 40 volunteers in red shirts, belonging to the Federation of Radio Communicatiors , helped marshall the event and guide vehicles away from the pedestrian lanes.
Acting Cebu City Mayor Labella was among those caught in heavy congestion late Sunday afternoon.
Labella said he came from a mountain barangay visit and was on his way to Archbishop Reyes Avenue at the time.
He said traffic was already slow moving at the vicinity of Marco Polo Plaza in Nivel HIlls.
“I noticed congestion and road blocks that were unnecessarily created,” he said.
Canton said MLC had to drop its plan to set up road guards delineating the two lanes .Canton said they were unable to secure 4,000 meters of rope and even if they had it, there were no available standing poles to tie these on.
While the road share plan was well-intentioned some business leaders said it needs more study to ensure that it won’t paralyze business operations.
“As it is now without road sharing our roads are not wide enough. Maybe we should wait for the Bus Rapid Transport system is in place before we think of road sharing,” Board of Investments Gov. Geronimo Sta. Ana said.
Prudencio Gesta, Cebu Bankers Club director and CCCI past president agreed.
“I think the scope of the area was quite big to begin with that resulted to a lot of inconveniences to the riding public as heavy traffic was observed compared to the number of people using the blocked roads,” he said.
Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs said while he believes in road sharing, he wants to see a master plan to make sure it works for everyone.
“Cebu’s livability has been compromised a great deal and should be addressed immediately. If we can pull this off, I am sure it will benefit a greater portion of Cebu’s population,” he said.
Fellow Philippine Retailers Association PRA-Cebu officer Melanie Ng said she was happy the road share experiment was done to determine its viability.
Marget Villarica, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators said road sharing was a good idea.
“People just need to be given clear guidelines and objective of the project,” she said.
Jeruel Roa, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said establishments located on the “wrong” side of the loop were deprived of customers that afternoon.
This loss should be considered by proponents in any future activity, he said.
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