Last week there was a news item or press release that discussed two traffic/pedestrian related concerns that the Bacolod City council wanted to take up. The first pushed for the enforcement of jaywalking, and the second suggested a feasibility study for putting up a multi-million pedestrian footbridge at the area of the northbound terminal and flyover.
When it comes to the Bata flyover, one of the more dangerous things that pedestrians regularly do there is to cross the national highway near the foot of the flyover, which is something many people have to do to get from the Ceres terminal to the other terminal across the highway.
That illegal pedestrian crossing, which is done right at the foot of the flyover, is dangerous for so many reasons but nobody seems to be apprehended for it. As long as nobody dies or gets seriously injured at that area, many death defying pedestrians who cannot be bothered to walk a bit further to cross safely will continue to cross the road there.
The most practical and cost-effective solution I can see for that problem would be to strictly enforce the no jaywalking law in that area, and then require pedestrians to walk a few meters back toward the flyover and cross under it, where the traffic flow is more manageable as vehicles are not going at speed as they either approach or depart from the flyover.
There is absolutely no need to construct a pedestrian footbridge. If you come to think of it, crossing via footbridge or under the flyover will probably be the same in terms of walking distance and inconvenience to pedestrians, as any footbridge will have to be built a certain distance from the foot of the flyover, and at the same time will need to be a certain height, so trucks and other tall vehicles can still use the road.
Also, based on our experience with foot bridges or pedestrian overpasses, nobody uses those things! We should know by now just how lazy the Bacolodnon pedestrian is, who would rather jaywalk than go up and down a set of stairs. The most glaring example of this pedestrian behavior is that white elephant outside Robinson’s mall that is already 3 decades old but has never been used properly. The only people who benefit from pedestrian overpass construction are the contractors and those who have a kickback from the project.
Strictly enforcing no jaywalking in the area and having pedestrians cross under the Bata flyover instead means that the approach to and from the flyover will be clear of dangerous pedestrian activity. It also means no unnecessary construction required. At best, all the city has to provide are covered walkways or shrubbery to provide shade from the sun and/or rain. They will also have to address the flooding problem in that area, as that part of the flyover gets flooded pretty easily, which would be quite a challenge for pedestrians.
And that, my dear readers, is my free-of-charge feasibility study on the proposed Bata flyover footbridge project, with the easy to render recommendation of: Nope!
The other topic the SP wanted to discuss was jaywalking, particularly its enforcement, which is currently non-existent all throughout most towns and cities of this island, and I wholeheartedly agree that it should be enforced.
A LGU that forces pedestrians and motorists to respect the pedestrian lane would do wonders for road safety in its area. However, in the case of Bacolod City, my suggestion for the SP is to go about an audit of the city’s pedestrian lanes, which are a bit too much, if you ask me. The city has one of the densest pedestrian lanes I have ever seen in the planet, where there is one to be found almost every 20-30 meters, many at totally unnecessary areas like in front of stores or hotels. It feels like the painter of stripes was given way too much paint and was just allowed to go to town. Maybe the SP, instead of blaming the traffic enforcers for not enforcing, also needs to identify all the areas the really need pedestrian lanes and remove stripes from those that do not contribute to better traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
Moreover, if a city is going to crack down on jaywalking, it better make sure that its sidewalks are usable, because one of the primary reasons why people jaywalk is unusable sidewalks that are filled with illegally parked cars, vendors, utility poles, and other obstacles that should’ve been prevented or regulated by city officials from the very start. Simply demanding the BTAO people to crack down on jaywalking when sidewalks are practically useless will be like pissing into the wind… ultimately messy.*