Sunday, November 21, 2010

One less car

*a repost of my Nov. 21 column in the Cordillera Today

The signs say – “Motorcycle and Bicycle Ban Along Session Road Is Strictly Implemented. Violators Will Be Apprehended.”

In recent days, police visibility along Session Road has multiplied, particularly during afternoon rush hour. I’m sure this will help drive away so-called petty criminals such as pickpockets and snatchers (hopefully out of the city, and not just a couple of blocks away from the heart of the city), it’s quite obvious that their top priority is the apprehension of motorcyclists in the area as two-wheeled vehicles are banned along Session Road. I am wondering though if this only applies to private (i.e. non-commercial) motorcyclists as the delivery morotcyles of the numerous fastfood restaurants there are still around at all hours of the day. They’re the ones who should be banned for I am sure I am not alone when I say that a lot of these fastfood deliverymen are notoriously reckless with their motorcyles, weaving in and out of traffic dangerously, swerving between lanes carelessly, making u-turns at pedestrian lanes, etc.  I believe the among the reasons for the ban are the added noise and air pollution these two-stroke engines produce.

And now, I just learned, that there is also a bicycle ban in place too. Er, huh?
While the rest of the sensible world, in this age of ozone layer depletion and global warming, are advocating the use of bicycles as an environment-friendly, not to mention healthy, alternative to oil-powered modes of transportation, here we are banning its use. Just a few weeks ago the debate was how to reduce air pollution at least within the Central Business District, now the talks are about why were discouraging one of the things that can actually help do just that. For every cyclist prevented from bringing his bike to Session Road, that’s one more commuter who would be forced to either ride a smoke-belching jeepney or taxi to get to the center of town.   

One of the comments in an online forum said that the ban is actually anti-poor, for while those who can afford to buy motor vehilces can freely drive around town, it deprives those who can only afford to buy a bicycle their right to use the city’s roads. That’s also true.  

So instead of promoting, encouraging the use of an alternative more of transportation that can help ease the traffic congestion, air and noise pollution along Session Road – they ban it. Just like that.

How did such a ban come about? I really don’t know what the rationale behind it is. But take a look at our city officials – top to bottom – do any of them bike? Right.

You want to ease traffic along Session Road? How many vehicles parked and double-parked along that road carry only one person? Can you imagine if most of those persons rode bikes instead? How much less space their parked bicycles would occupy?

And I write this column after seeing a photo in of our local newspapers of a police officer removing the license plate of a vehicle apparently belonging to our good congressman for double parking alone Session Road.

Ay, apo.

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