Paper bag, bike lane ordinances

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


I BEGAN to notice this a couple of years ago when I bought something from an auto parts store in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City. Sold items are usually placed in plastic bags but the store used paper bags instead even if the items bought were heavy. When my turn came, I asked the proprietor why. “City ordinance,” he answered.

The Talisay City Council actually passed as early as February 2011 an ordinance that bars establishments in the city from using plastic bags. That was during the administration of former mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Wanting to do better, current Mayor Johnny V. de los Reyes announced months after he took over Talisay City Hall to aggressively implement the ordinance, which was not followed to the letter by the City because of the supposed laxity of the Fernandez administration.

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Talisay City isn’t the only local government unit (LGU) pushing for the use of paper bags. In Luzon, cities like Quezon, Makati and Marikina are already practicing it. In Mindanao, you have Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities.

In Cebu City, Councilor Nida Cabrera initiated the passage in 2013 of the “No Plastic Saturday” ordinance. The measure’s rationale is like that of similar ordinances in other LGUs of the country: plastic bags are not biodegradable and they clog canals and other waterways. So their use is being discouraged.

Apparently, the push is slowly succeeding. When you buy take-out food at Jollibee’s for example, these are placed in brown paper bags with the establishment’s logo. You go to the big malls in Cebu City and the use of plastic bags has become observable during Saturdays.

I hope government or any concerned entity would conduct a study on the effect of the initial wave of paper bag use by establishments in Metro Cebu. Has the goal of those who worked for the passage of the ordinances been met? Is there a dent in the overall use of plastic bags?

By the way, plastic bag use has never been dented in small stores and even in sidewalk eateries. For example, to save on water, sidewalk eateries encourage the use by customers of thin transparent plastic bags to cover the hand while eating. Plates are also covered with plastic bags that are then discarded after eating, allowing for the plates’ reuse without washing.

So how successful is the passage by LGUs of their respective “paper bag” ordinance?

***

Cebu City Councilor Cabrera, in coordination with some bikers’ groups, is also concocting another interesting measure, the so-called bike lane ordinance. A public hearing has already been done on the measure and I hope Cabrera will consider the inputs.

My initial stance on that was to note the nature of our streets and some of our drivers. I agree that a bike lane ordinance can only be good as the people observing it.

Our streets are used not only by drivers of private and public utility vehicles but also by motorcyclists and in some choke points like the Tabunok, Talisay area by tricycle and trisikad drivers and pedestrians. Their widths also differ.

Meanwhile, traffic enforcers find difficulty in implementing traffic laws and regulations in our streets. There’s a cat-and-mouse game out there, with drivers, mostly those of public utility vehicles (PUVs), violating these laws and regulations if they can.

The sides of the roads that are being targeted for use as bike lanes are usually blocked by parked vehicles, especially in front of establishments and residences that do not have adequate parking spaces. PUV drivers use the same area to load and dislodge passengers without respect for designated “jeepney stops.”

As a driver, I steer clear of the side of the streets because of the various obstructions I encounter there. So while I agree that pushing for Cabrera’s ordinance can be a good first step in encouraging the use of bicycles, I also hope the idea will be studied well.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2014.

Opinion

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