Legislators are starting to see that the horrendous traffic jams in Metro Manila cannot be solved simply by trying to manage vehicles on Edsa.
Assigning bus and motorcycle lanes and building more overpasses for pedestrians will not make vehicles move faster. Edsa is the worst consequence of authorities’ failure to implement even the most basic traffic rules and the growing sense of entitlement of many people.
Vehicle owners who have claimed the streets as their personal parking areas see how they contribute to the chaotic traffic situation, but they cannot be bothered. Two vehicles, for instance, are parked every day right at the corner of Leon Guinto and San Andres. Traffic in that area has gotten worse now that there is an ongoing drainage improvement project.
Commuters and pedestrians, who have long suffered from the selfishness of car owners, should show their support for a bill filed by freshman Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, “Proof-of-Parking Space Act,” that will compel the government to adopt the “No Garage, No Car” policy. Gatchalian had filed a similar bill when he was still Valenzuela City representative.
Under the bill, prospective car buyers should provide proof they have parking space before they are allowed to buy a vehicle.
Gatchalian filed the bill as a representative when traffic on Edsa and other major roads worsened. One of the reasons identified was the clogging of alternative routes by parked vehicles.
Gatchalian correctly observed that “motor vehicles that continue to occupy the side streets, parked and idle, are hindrance to foot and automobile traffic…” Ordinary people have to stand in the middle of the street to be noticed by public utility vehicle drivers.
A recent accident in which a young boy was hit by a car because he suddenly emerged from behind parked vehicles, which blocked the automobile driver’s view, is just the latest example of the danger posed by allowing people to use roads as their private garages.
Gatchalian said if people could afford to buy cars, they should also “be able to provide a parking facility for their vehicles.”
Published reports quoted the legislator further: “The street is primarily intended for vehicular or foot traffic and should not be appropriated as personal parking spaces…”
Open public roads
Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto has also called for the removal of illegally parked vehicles on public roads, in reaction to a proposal by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to ask private subdivisions to open up their streets to ease traffic in Metro Manila.
Sotto reportedly said in a Senate hearing that removing illegally parked vehicles on Metro Manila streets “can solve up to 50 percent of traffic problems.”
Clearing the streets of illegally parked vehicles, Sotto noted, was better than opening subdivisions’ roads. The public has the right to use both lanes of public roads.
I suggest that before Tugade opens private roads to the public, he should first dismantle gates that block access for several hours each night to streets paid for by taxpayers’ money.
In many areas in the cities of Makati and Manila, people close off public roads presumably so they can have a good night’s sleep not bothered by traffic noise or because they want to feel like they live in gated communities without paying the price for the privilege.
Residents of private subdivisions have paid for the pleasure of having their roads to themselves. Those who live along public roads have not. They did not even pay for the construction of those streets—at least not exclusively.
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