CLOSING the famous Session Road during the 105th Baguio Day was a vibrant one for pedestrians.
Michelle Garcia, the researcher behind the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, was pleased with the closing of Session Road allowing only pedestrians to enter the road on September 1.
"People owned the public realm like they should," she told Sun.Star Baguio sharing how glad she was to see residents and visitors alike enjoy walking along Session Road, drawing with colored chalks on the road and talking pictures.
She explained the dominant social sector in Baguio is the youth, particularly students, and whether they are originally from Baguio or not, they call the city "home".
This dominant sector owned the road while the elderly, tourists and professionals saw the benefits of the pedestrianization of Session Road in terms of having a more active lifestyle, she said.
With the one-day-pedestrianization of the Summer Capital's main and historical thoroughfare, she observed, "People enjoyed themselves.
They lingered. Some did the catwalk to show their porma. Mothers allowed their kids to run freely with peace of mind. Police visibility was high, air quality was better and the noise man-made and not machine-made.”
"Walking through Session Road, I've noticed that people's stress was non-numeric. They were cool and hip. Laughter was in the air. The air quality was good," she added.
Garcia highlighted there was a sense of peace during that day which is a "valuable intangible asset" for Baguio as it says a lot about the quality of communal life in the city.
The SUMP researcher hopes the pedestrianization of Session Road will not only be good for a local holiday.
She said closing it will not only make air quality better in the traffic prone road but will also mean investing in health and in having a positive outlook in life as walking makes body secrete more endorphins which makes a person happy.
"Maybe the city (government) should consider starting on weekend and holidays to have more of this (pedestrianized Session Road) to enhance the residents' communal life and make a better impression to tourists as well," she closed.
The SUMP, which seeks to pedestrianize Session Road is continuously being introduced to different stakeholders in Baguio City particularly to jeepney drivers, businessmen in the central business district and commuters to get their backing on the proposal.
Garcia is currently working with the Baguio Heritage Foundation in pushing for the SUMP.