More than pedestrian-A A +A
Saturday, August 4, 2012
A RECENT CNNGo special report said the Philippines—for its sun, beaches, sceneries, chances for adventures into nature—ought to be an unforgettable place and a life experience for visitors. But it does have problems in attracting tourists, like absence of pedestrian safety from crashes and thugs.
The matter of lack of pedestrian concern in traffic rules and infrastructure is part of the problems of the tourism program of the country.
Imagine if you were a foreigner inside a cab along D. Jakosalem and you watch pupils of Zapatera Elementary School walk home and create their own idea of pedestrian space (not lane, not sidewalk but a bit of space or the line between the road and grass growth) because vendors have taken the space between the school yard and the road railing when it could have been the sidewalk.
Tourists would want to walk leisurely, safely.
In what are considered roadways at the Capitol Site and up, there are no pedestrian spaces, and certainly none for triple pedestrians walking abreast (when they get away with it, side-stepping). I don’t drive now but I get stressed out in a cab ride along streets not friendly to pedestrians. Through the drive, I fret about the fate of pedestrians in near-crash positions right beside or across or along vehicles.
To survive from the stress, I look to my sides and count the Automated Tubig Machine along the way, like changing the topic in a conversation on what looks like the roadside on our way to OPRRA.
Pedestrian safety is taken lightly, it seems. But the lack of it in this country could drive away the tourists who could help boost the economy.
Most of all, it saves people from pain and death, unless you want a scare, like a pedestrian drive in Chicago. The authorities there one time stressed on the importance of pedestrian lanes in the life of the city through a sort of “shock” campaign where the department of transportation used a roadside as space for 32 mannequins of those killed in pedestrian crashes.
In the Philippines, pedestrians are being more open to roadside accidents in this country than any of collision of plain vehicle-vs-vehicle. There are no sidewalks, just footpaths where there is knee-length grass growth, or a canal, or water in holes when it rains, or a building’s concrete wall…..
An international road assessment group (iRAP) conducted a road risk study on pedestrian deaths. It cited in the report last year a very high count of deaths of pedestrians, or “more than half of all road deaths in Manila”.
One tourism problem is created by international media which pick up quickly, in blow-up style, murder reports, kidnap cases, sex trade stories, together with Mindanao abduction news, even while tourists try to enjoy summer just an island away. The Asia Pacific region is said to have a tourism surge. But the Philippines gets only 1.1 percent of “international tourism revenues in the region.”
A highly populated city in the world, like New York, keeps improving on its pedestrian safety program because authorities see this as very important. Pedestrian lanes and sidewalks are for pedestrians, the sidewalks wide, evenly paved, I caught the sight of a blind pedestrian being led safely along the sidewalk by a wise dog. There are certain parts of the day when the sidewalk traffic is thick but moving fast. It’s said that about a million people enter NY at daybreak, join the local population, and leave the city at nightfall, or much, much later. A lot of these visitors are tourists, such that a friend wished there was a special sidewalk space for them!
And so, does pedestrian safety hardly count as a tourism score?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 05, 2012.