IT'S strike two against the Movement for Livable Cebu (MLC) in my book. I supported this group years ago when it campaigned against the construction of additional flyovers in the city. But I felt it was overdoing things when it blocked the cutting of diseased acacia trees in southern Cebu recently. Now it is behind an "experiment" that caused inconvenience to many Cebuanos.
Last Sunday, MLC and the Cebu City Government halved (lengthwise) some roads in the city and had it shared by vehicles and people. Those roads could barely accommodate even vehicles plying the city only, so when the so-called Green Loop road-sharing scheme narrowed the streets for vehicles’ use even more, curses by traffic-trapped commuters erupted.
That traffic bottlenecks would be created by the taking over of half of the roads by the Green Loop participants was a no-brainer. The City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) knows that, but because Mayor Michael Rama was accommodating the activity's initiators, it pretended it could smooth the traffic flow nevertheless. It failed miserably.
I understand the Green Loop organizers had wanted Sunday's activity to be a continuing "experiment" and to even expand its coverage to the neighboring areas of Cebu City.
But what happened last Sunday should serve as a warning for local government units in Metro Cebu. Road rage could erupt if commuters continue to be inconvenienced.
More so because of the contrast shown. While owners of private vehicles and drivers of public transport got stuck in traffic, participants of Green Loop were enjoying themselves. They looked like they were feeding off the suffering of others.
That is why the claim by the organizers that the activity was almost 100 percent successful sounded hollow at best and was insulting at worst. It was tactless.
I have always considered some of the premises of this road sharing scheme as faulty.
For one, its proponents make it appear like owners of private vehicles are the personification of evil. They are faulted for occupying much of the available road space when the transport system in the country should be the one blamed for it.
They gloss over the fact that public utility vehicles also use the same road to ferry people who are not private car owners, and that in the road sharing experiments that have been done so far, these commuters were the ones most inconvenienced. (In fact, public utility vehicles have been considered the royalties of these roads, thus the tag, “hari sa karsada.”)
Also, the organizers overstressed the need by pedestrians and bikers of additional road space. During the Green Loop, the part of the road allocated for pedestrians and bikers were largely unoccupied. As for the participants, they were in festive and leisurely mood.
If we are to appropriate a road space for people, it should be for those who really need it, meaning the workers and employees on their daily grind. Sports buffs and strollers can use other vacant spaces like, say, the Cebu City Sports Center and Plaza Independencia.
Meaning that, the use of road spaces allocated for people should be maximized. That road space shouldn’t appear desolate in normal days.
The truth is, those who choose to ride on vehicles, be they privately owned or for public use, will always outnumber those who want to walk or bike. This should be considered in determining the size of the road space that should be allocated to workers and employees who walk or use bicycles in going to their work places.
In an ideal world, roads should have bicycle lanes and wide sidewalks (in other countries, this setup is no longer the ideal but is a reality). I, too, share that goal. But in the real world, such goal can only be reached together with the improvement in governance and our country's economic advance. I think there are no shortcuts in going there.