Half of EDSA Closed on June 28 For Road Sharing

Plans to close off half of EDSA on Sunday, June 28 had been announced earlier. This is based on the proposal from Share the Road Movement (Bayanihan sa Daan), headed by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. If approved by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), here's how EDSA will be segmented for road sharing:

edsa closed on june 28 for road sharing rappler image
image taken from Rappler.com

From 12am to 11:59 of June 28, the 5 lanes will be shared by (Lane 1) Pedestrians, (Lane 2) Bikers, (Lane 3) City Buses, (Lane 4) Provincial Buses, (Lane 5) Private Vehicles. This will affect both North and South bound lanes of Edsa from Ortigas to Mall of Asia. The aim of this is to decongest the streets, minimize the number of vehicles contributing to pollution, and promote healthier way of transport: walking and biking.

Sunday will be a test run for this 'EDSA Evolution 2015' which if successful, may be implemented whole year round. It's a big change and may I say, ambitious. As early as now, vehicle owners and commuters have varied reaction to this proposal.
My work is in Makati and I have my husband drive me to work at night and I ride the MRT to meet him at his workplace so we can drive home to Quezon City together. We travel almost the full length of EDSA daily. With this Road Sharing Scheme, here's a few points I want to see addressed:

How safe is EDSA Road Sharing?

Bikers and buses are side by side on the road. We know the reputation of bus drivers in the metro. How can we be sure that they will not take the outer lanes? Would there be barriers to keep them safe?

What about the commuters?

What about the unloading passengers? Are the buses suppose to stop and load/unload on the 3rd lane? With only 3 lanes for vehicles, one of them full with parked buses waiting for passengers, it may be inevitable that other city buses will take the fourth and fifth lane, trying to overtake. Not safe and can add to delay in traffic.

Oh, where will passengers wait for buses, jeeps, and cabs? I can foresee people crowding the edge of the send lane so they can hail a cab, or get on the bus as fast as they can. Hopefully, bikers will be alert enough to avoid the rushing  passengers crossing the two lanes to and from the side walk.

Promoting public transportation?

According to an article posted in Rappler four months ago, Oposa referred to this road sharing as Road Diet. "It means we will limit the number of vehicles in the road by limiting the road. If you have less road, then people will seek to improve collective transport systems. We're changing the mindset. We don't have to have cars to move from one point to another"

Chicken and Eggs. Improve collective transport systems, such as buses and trains so people will prefer to ride instead of bringing their own car that causes road congestion. Force people to take collective transports so they will push for better collective transport system.

If this Road Sharing scheme is aiming to create the need for a better mass public transport, we already have that need - that clamor as it is now. People had been putting up the MRT but there had been little to no improvement for so many years. Thousands are demanding better system and service. What's the difference will this road sharing do? Promote more disappointment and trouble for the commuting public? Add more pressure to the 5 MRT trains currently running so they will breakdown further until there's none to use?

Are we ready for this?

With barely a week to go and minimal information provided to the public, are we ready for this?Are people really ok to walk along EDSA? Do we have enough bikers that will take advantage of the free lane? Will entice the public to ditch their private cars and use public transpo? Is the MMDA ready to implement this and provide alternate routes?

For me, the goals of this road sharing proposal is very nice. I'd like to see the day when people will be able to freely use the road safely and utilize more environment-friendly modes of transport.If we can rally for a better mass transport option, that will mean the city and the Philippines is ready for more growth. But I'd say, let's complete our existing projects now instead of implementing new ones. The MRT is one of the best solutions in decongesting the roads. If only it will work well, with consistency. We already have bike lanes and even started the rent-a-bike program in parts of Makati EDSA. What happened with that? Let's make sure that all projects are well thought off before we start them. "Proof of concept and trial"? "Let's see what happens if it work?" How about let's not implement half-baked plans.

What do you think of this plan? Do you agree with closing EDSA on June 28 for Road Sharing? Do you thing this is the solution for the metro's congested roads? Share your thoughts!

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