By Keisuke Nakao
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – With the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that the local government is in a rush to respond to the rising trend and establish bicycle lanes in Davao. This action shall make sense to citizens with the current situation as it lessens the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 that may be acquired by commuting. In addition, this can also be a daily exercise to keep and activate the immune system. Economically, this means less daily transportation expenses with lesser income opportunities. Incidentally, surplus bicycles from Japan are so affordable, from P2,000 to P3,500.
However, I personally have questions as to the effectiveness with several concerns regarding city road conditions and bicycle users.
First, about the road space for bicycle lanes with the City Development Plan. I noticed that some of the four-lane roads have white markers dedicated for bicycles. However, these are just a cut portion from the existing road for vehicles to pass without hitting the next lane. If big trucks pass this lane without invading bicycle lanes, it might hit the vehicles from the other side. Are there any provisions or available space for expanding current road size to place bicycle lanes? And even with fully expanded roads, there are still electrical posts standing in the middle of the road, and drainage is not covered.
Second is about inconsistent side walk lane size. Prior to the placement of bicycle lanes, there are several roads with inconsistent sidewalk space. Some have 90 to 120cm, and some have less than 30cm where people cannot pass without risking themselves and stepping into vehicle lanes.
Third is about parking violations. Adding to the concern regarding limited space for vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles to run, our sidewalks are invaded by illegal parking by private and commercial vehicles. Taxis and jeepneys stop at any location of the roadside where bicycles pass.
Lastly, but definitely valid, is the concern about traffic rules orientation and implementation. Orientations and updates regarding traffic rules must be given to all license holders (and to the broad citizen). And if it is the cyclist’s first attempt to enter a public road, an orientation must also be given prior to this ride. This may mean that orientations should be done on a regular basis and might as well be published so that anyone can attend. At the same time, there is a strong need to improve drivers’ attitude on the road and strictly impose disciplinary actions to force them to follow traffic rules for the sake of the public.
To end, these questions may seem very ideal to some but I also believe that these very questions should be asked so that we are able to assess and correct ourselves, if necessary, and make better the implementations that are being made by our government.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Keisuke Nakao is a Japanese National who runs a food processing export business. He has been staying in Mindanao for 17 years, and he fondly identifies himself as a Dabawenyo or a Mindanawon. Keisuke is a former President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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