NO SMALL coincidence that the Mactan-Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) discussed ways to prevent suicides at the two Mactan bridges connecting Mactan Island and Cebu mainland on World Suicide Prevention Day last Sept. 10, 2019.
After the series of suicide attempts and cases, 17 as of last count this year, the MCBMB figured it is best to get down and be serious about measures to prevent persons from using the bridges as a platform to end their lives.
Some of the measures discussed included the setting up of a police outpost, use of artificial intelligence to detect motion, allowing only one side of the bridges as pedestrian lane, a curfew on foot traffic.
The pedestrian lane will be closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
A sector of biking enthusiasts, however, reacted to the proposed ban on bicycles on two bridges. The ban was inspired by a number of incidents where depressed persons took the bicycle to find their precipice.
Roland “Andoy” Remolino, head coach of the Talisay Luigi Triathlon Group, and multi-titled cyclist Niño Surban reacted to the proposed ban. Their interests are clear; these are athletes who cover as much ground as they can, including the bridges in crossing islands.
But Surban raised a good point when he said there are individuals who use bicycles in going to and from work or school. It will be unfair to them, he said.
Land Transportation Office (LTO) Central Visayas Director Victor Caindec, however, pointed out that Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code prohibits non-motorized transport, including bicycles, from crossing bridges.
It is also dangerous for bikers, he said, considering the volume of traffic on the bridge.
It might help to continue discussions on policies concerning the bridges, bringing into the loop more stakeholders.
MCBMB, by some role extension and imagination, can fashion itself as part-time advocate for mental health, using the bridges as platforms for just that campaign. Because, anyway, the bridges under its watch have been persistently used as steel cliff by a terrible number of suicide attempts and cases.
But then, of course, it will still take a community to take care of its own mental health.