(Second of a series)
Metro Manila’s sidewalks are mostly narrow, sometimes non-existent, and often unfriendly to persons with disabilities (PWD).
People are mostly forced to walk under the unforgiving sun, bumping against others in an endless battle for limited space. Those who give up end up occupying car lanes, oblivious to vehicles dangerously zipping past them.
These are just a few of the many obstacles Filipinos encounter in their daily commute, as they move from one mode of public transportation to another.
Experts call it a lack of “intermodal connectivity.” In other countries, commuters simply need to follow a shaded, perfectly paved path to get from Point A to Point B. Filipinos, meanwhile, need to go up and down footbridges (some opt to jaywalk) and walk along narrow sidewalks to get to the nearest terminal.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) thinks this is what hinders Filipinos from walking relatively short distances instead of riding a tricycle or a jeepney.
For years, the ADB has helped the Philippines dream up infrastructure to solve this problem.
Recently, it announced an ambitious plan to put up kilometer-long elevated pathways in traffic-heavy areas of EDSA.
“Two years ago, the Department of Transportation approached the ADB and asked us for technical support for the design and the development of the Greenways,” ADB country head Kelly Bird told ABS-CBN News.
“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to bring in some good global practices in designing and developing elevated walkways, particularly here in Metro Manila where there is a huge demand for safe, clean environments to walk.
“If you look at all the different transport interchanges you can see people lining up, long queues even on EDSA, on the lanes. They are very poor environments for pedestrians.”
Contrary to earlier reports that it will include Ortigas, the first phase of the EDSA Greenways project will include a network of elevated pathways in Balintawak, Cubao, Guadalupe and Taft.
“These are locations where there’s very high urban density, a lot of traffic, a lot of transport interchanges and future transport plans,” Bird said.
He said the ADB has been working with the DOTr on the design of the elevated pathways, which will be about 5 meters high and 5 meters wide, making it very spacious.
Bird said the ADB wants to incorporate several features that has not yet been seen in the Philippines.
Among them is making sure that it is safe for women.
“It will be designed in a way that it is very open. It will be well-lit. There won’t be places for people to hide. There will be minimal risk of crime,” the country director said. “We’re also looking at the possibility, depending of the cost, of the elevators being made of glass. So it’s very transparent and open.
He said the elevators will also make it accessible for the elderly, children, and persons with disabilities.
“It will be designed to have a nice airflow in the greenways,” Bird said. “There will be a lot of greenery and plants on the side so you feel like you are walking through a park in a way.”
To be able to construct along EDSA and other roads that might have no more space for expansion, the pathways will only utilize one side for columns. This will keep the street below it unobstructed.
“Balintawak Greenway will be around 1.5 kilometers and it will link all the interchanges around the Cloverleaf area. Bear in mind the government is going to build MRT-7 and also going to build the subway. So there will be a lot of multi-model interchanges in that area so we are focusing in that area. And it will be a continuous loop around that area,” Bird said.
He said the Greenways will also link residential areas and landmarks such as churches to the transportation terminals. In the future, it can also be linked to shopping malls.
The elevated pathways in Cubao (1.6 kilometers), Guadalupe (800 meters) and Taft (1 kilometer) will be similarly linked.
The Taft Greenways, in particular, will replace the existing footbridges in the area.
REDUCED TRAVEL TIME
Because it will allow people to reach terminals directly, it will reduce travel time for pedestrians.
“Depending on the location it can be anywhere between 15 and 40 minutes savings in walking,” Bird said.
And because it will encourage people to walk instead of riding tricycles or jeepneys to nearby areas, it should also reduce traffic in the area.
“There will be a contribution to reduction in pollution and also the health benefits,” Bird said.
He said the Greenways is part of the ABD strategy to promote environmentally sustainable projects that will help address climate change.
There is still no price estimates for the project, but the ADB is expecting that the design will be approved before the year ends.
The ADB and the DOTr are still conducting a feasibility study, after which the project will be presented before the Philippine government and the ADB board.
If it is green-lit this year, construction can start in 2020 and will take as long as 16 to 22 months. By 2021, some of the Greenways can already be used.
The ADB is hoping that the 4 Greenways projects will pave the way for more linking infrastructure for pedestrians.
“We want to be able to demonstrate walkways that are clean, safe and pleasant to use. It can be a model to use in other cities in Metro Manila but also other cities of the Philippines as well,” Bird said.