Death lurks in Gorordo
Pedestrians are some of the most forsaken stakeholders of Cebu City’s increasingly choked thoroughfares.
This can only be understood by those who have not (at least not yet) joined the panic buying of cars.
On sunny days, he who roams the city breathes smog wrought mostly by vehicular exhaust.
On rainy days, he is pelted with raindrops while walking the sidewalk as motorists, impervious of other road users drive over puddles in uneven streets, displacing their murky contents.
A good friend of mine’s pet peeve is every motorbike driver who invades sidewalks that are reserved for foot traffic.
Many years ago, my kindergarten teacher (may she rest in peace), lost her life as she crossed the road to reach Mambaling Elementary School in Cebu City’s south district.
Halfway through, a speeding motorcycle hit her so hard she was thrown into the air and landed by a water pump on which she hit her head.
If only Filipino drivers knew to yield to pedestrians on zebra crossings.
Twice in my life, I have been accosted for jaywalking near a department store on Colon Street.
In both instances, I paid the fine.
But I wonder if drivers will ever be made to face any consequence for encroaching space that is not theirs apart from the wrong sides of the road.
Friday last week, I nearly got killed while crossing the westernmost pedestrian lane of Gorordo Avenue between the two sides of the University of the Philippines Cebu.
I was three-quarters of the way to the curb when I heard someone shouting at me, telling me to look where I am going.
About two seconds later, a bike driver with a back rider stopped after almost driving into me.
This gentleman had the gall to holler and almost hit me but his passenger, a woman urged him to stop and I shouted to tell him to lay his hands off me.
I pointed out that I was walking on the pedestrian lane and was well within my rights to expect him to stop, and walked away.
But the man instead shouted “UP bugo (dumb UP)!”
I did not look back.
In retrospect, it was not only the sight of gray and white stripes on the road that should have prepared him to halt.
There are two west-facing standee signs that bid motorists to slow down.
There is a slow down command written in giant white block letters written on the road meters before the pedestrian lane.
Before the sign on the blacktop, there is a rumble strip.
That a driver should yield to a pedestrian who is crossing the road is an almost universal tenet of road courtesy.
For jaywalkers to be fined is just. To sentence rule-abiding pedestrians to martyrdom by road accident is madness.
A colleague of mine told me to forget the motorist’s mockery and to thank my angel for watching over me.
I am grateful to that invisible guard but I am looking for a reason to be grateful as a pedestrian to this city’s traffic enforcers.
A friend who is a lawyer told me not to apply Scandinavian expectations of road courtesy in this country else this would be the death of me.
Am I to resign myself to just take pedestrian lanes as unsightly pop-art on our streets? Are drivers incapable of stopping for those who do not drive in order to save lives?
Another friend told me that I am not the only one who risked death or injury on Gorordo Avenue. He said near-hits are regularly experienced by students of the university.
I have heard of one or two deaths on this stretch of the road many years ago. The signs and the rumble strip were late reactions to those deaths.
Marga, the dog that roams the school recently became a media sensation after visuals of a guard helping her cross the street went viral on social media.
School guards should not be expected to cover for traffic enforcers all the time.
Drivers should not behave as if the pedestrian lane were a patintero line that they breach at an acceptable risk of smashing into a human being.
The Road Safety Education Act of 2011 has been pending in the Lower House for almost seven years. The Road Courtesy, Discipline and Traffic Safety Education Act has been pending for nearly six.
Local governments should not wait for more people to be injured on pedestrian lanes or sidewalks before keeping these spaces truly safe for pedestrians.
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