Pesquera questions pedestrianization plans

Pesquera questions pedestrianization plans
Jocelyn “Joy” PesqueraFile photo

A CEBU City local legislator has scrutinized the pedestrianization plan for certain parts of the downtown area as well as the proposed plan for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) Link to the Port Urban Realm Enhancement.

In an executive session on Thursday, June 13, 2024, Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said pedestrianizing these areas would affect the arcaded structures.

There are arcaded sidewalks in certain areas in Colon, according to Pesquera.

Arcaded sidewalks refer to pedestrian walkways that are covered or sheltered by arcades, which are series of arches supported by columns or pillars along one or both sides of the sidewalk. These arcades provide shade and protection from weather elements such as sun and rain, enhancing the comfort and usability of the sidewalk for pedestrians.

In his presentation, Norvin Imbong, CBRT project evaluation officer, said the city government envisioned three major districts in Cebu City, namely the SRP New Business and Housing District, the Historic District, which is the Colon area, and the Creative and Innovative District, which is the port area.

He said the city aims to maximize the potential and revitalize downtown Cebu (Colon area), which falls within the historic district, through “pedestrianization.”

“This is what they are planning, adopting a Colon Street, like in other places...their plans, structures to be built will be constructed with proposed arcaded sidewalks, linking all so they will have roofs for the pedestrians,” Imbong said.

Pedestrianization refers to the process of converting an area primarily designed for vehicular traffic into a space that prioritizes pedestrians. This often involves restricting or eliminating vehicle access, creating pedestrian-friendly environments with amenities like sidewalks, plazas, seating areas and improved safety measures.

According to Imbong, the Department of Transportation aligns with the city’s development by adopting and incorporating components such as urban realm enhancement and sidewalk/pedestrian improvements.

Pesquera criticized the lack of concrete plans from the CBRT regarding the pedestrianization and the BRT project.

She said that while the general BRT project is known, details such as bus stop locations and designs have not been presented. She questioned the specific plans for areas like Sanciangko and Plaza Independencia, including where bus stops will be located and which structures will be affected.

Imbong said at the corner P. del Rosario going to the GV Tower (Osmeña Blvd corner Sanciangko St.) there will be two lanes per direction with bike lanes on both sides and sidewalks. He added this will then be connected going to the Plaza Independencia with one lane per direction as it will also include an arcaded sidewalk and bike lanes on both sides.

Imbong assured that stakeholders’ concerns will be taken into consideration. He said if they have concerns about implementing pedestrianization, they can simulate the route by placing cones along the stretch first.

Moreover, Pesquera also asked whether the CBRT has conducted a vehicle count to assess citywide congestion levels, to which Imbong clarified that these concerns are due to the Local Public Transport Route Plan not being implemented.

Imbong also clarified that in the said stretch going to the port, there will be no BRT buses that will pass through and only PUVs, modernized jeepneys.

Imbong said the revitalizing Colon would create wider, clearer pathways for women, children and persons with disabilities, enhancing safety and security.

He said it would also improve interactions between pedestrians and businesses, increase foot traffic, attract consumers to commercial spaces, and shift spending to goods that boost regional economic activity.

Additionally, the plan aims to reduce motorist traffic and highlight existing structures and monuments. / AML

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