How civilized are the roads of Cebu?

Any aspiration and claim by a metropolis for liveability rests on the safety of land transport.

This encompasses the entire system ensuring the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services.

Like any system, land transportation is governed by laws and regulated by authorities.

As crucial, too, is the education of the public as stakeholders in following regulations and observing road courtesy for the well-being of all.

Cebu traffic rivals the notoriety of Manila’s. In the later part of 2022, the resumption of on-site work and face-to-face classes returned Cebu to its “traffic crisis,” first declared by the Cebu Provincial Board in 2019, according to a CNN Philippines report on Oct. 15, 2019.

Legislators then equated to a “public calamity” the P1.1 billion lost by the province due to traffic congestion, a finding culled from a country study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in 2018.

Work productivity whittled down by hours spent for motoring and commuting is just one consequence of the traffic crisis.

Road accidents and deaths have become a jarring tandem regularly appearing in media reports.

On Jan. 28, Benjie B. Talisic reported on SunStar Cebu how a cyclist was rammed and killed by a bus on the national highway in Minglanilla on Jan. 27. The northbound cyclist went out of his lane and was hit by a bus following him, resulting in his death on the spot.

A prime mover changing lanes at the Cebu South Coastal Road in Barangay San Roque in Talisay City hit a motorcycle-riding couple, killing the passenger, last Jan. 21.

According to a Jan. 25 report by Talisic and Tito P. Tan on SunStar Cebu, Talisay recorded 2,334 traffic accidents in 2022.

In the report, City of Talisay Traffic Operations and Development Authority (CT-Toda) head Jonathan Tumulak noted that motorcycles dominated the road accidents and traffic violations led to these accidents.

Tumulak observed to SunStar Cebu that the common violations involved drivers going out of their lanes, rushing to beat instead of stopping for the stop light and overlapping by trucks of designated bike lanes.

Last Jan. 26, Ivan Rey R. Tan reported in SunStar Cebu that Cebu City’s Sugbo Bike Lanes Board (SBLB) is implementing City Ordinance 2408, or the Sugbo Bike Lanes Ordinance, which penalizes drivers of public and private vehicles that park or use the bike lanes.

One driver of a public utility vehicle who refused to pay the fee for violating the ordinance in 2022 has been jailed; the SBLB is processing the filing of charges against 50 other violators.

Regulation and sanctions carried out by the authorities will not solely stem road accidents. Accountability rests as heavily on citizens driving private and public vehicles and responsible for carving Cebu’s notoriety as a calamity zone in this road crisis.

With traffic congestion beginning as early as 6 a.m. on major thoroughfares and workplaces and schools resuming on-site, the mindset to reach one’s destination as quickly and conveniently as possible sets in and overpowers prudence, courtesy for other citizens and respect for life and property.

Many motorcycle drivers weave in and out of road queues, often encroaching on the opposing lane and endangering not just themselves and their passengers but also those in approaching vehicles.

The sudden switching of lanes and failure to properly signal before turning are frequent lapses that end in tragedies and traffic jams that require hours to untangle.

Another risky behavior commonly seen on the road are motorcycle tandems bringing a minor or a pet. Authorities must be vigilant in apprehending violators and discouraging this dangerous practice.

For Cebu to become a liveable city, civilized and hospitable to citizens as well as visitors, road-sharing consciousness and civility must be ingrained in all the stakeholders of land transport.