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Through Lenses
One of the many things I hate to see along the road especially when Im at the wheel
is when people cross the streets, oblivious to their surroundings. Okay! So what is so
wrong about this scene which we experience everyday? Well, these people cross the
streets when they have a footbridge right above their heads. Worse, they take their
sweet time doing so, even if you blow your head together with your horn out of the
car window. This scenario does not happen only in regular- to medium-sized roads
but to the dreaded Epifanio delos Santos Avenue as well. Pedestrians choose to
play patintero with cars all over the road rather than use a footbridge to cross the
street safely.

Footbridge projects actually take a big chunk out of the national budget. I think that it
is over-budgeted yet under-used. I believe there was even a law passed to properly
address the apportionment of highway funds, including that of right of way projects
where footbridge undertakings are included.

The way I see it, people have apprehensions in using a footbridge that they ignore
safety and consider the convenience of not having to climb a number of steps to be
able to cross to the other side. One of these is the danger of encountering lawless
elements of the society along the bridge. I have heard people say that they will lose
more if they use the overpass what with the snatchers and holdapers lurking high
over and above the passing vehicles. They would rather take risks on running head-

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on with a car than probably run the danger of losing not just material possessions but
their lives as well.

Another issue among pedestrians with regard to the use of footbridge is the usual
neighborhood bazar along the bridge that there is little space left for people to walk
on. Since the idea of a footbridge means pedestrians passing along everyday every
time, business-minded people thought it feasible for them to setup stalls and sell
their wares. Whenever I use that one along Aurora Boulevard in Cubao and that one
in Quezon Boulevard near Raon, I have to wait for some people to pass through first
before I can continue walking because the width of the space left by the vendors is
just enough for one person to pass. This may also be considered as a contributing
factor for the snatchers to find a new haven.

Still another issue on the use of footbridge is on its being a health-hazard. Apart from
not being securely covered with a roof, the steps are unevenly spaced, sometimes
there are even cracks which render it dangerous to pedestrians. Also, because of the
minimal space for walking, people find themselves entangled with each other with
their umbrellas. I myself have suffered several, especially along that one in Quiapo.
During rainy season, I usually slip, if not along the walkway, it is while going down
the steps.

Excuse Me!
As I have mentioned early on, this project is one which is over-budgeted yet underused.

The Department of Public Works and Highways, together with the

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, spend billions of the national budget in

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building these bridges. As part of the police power of the State, it is its duty to
safeguard the welfare of the people. This project is one of the ways to do so. But this
is where it fails.

The law which guarantees the Highway Special Fund provides that a certain portion
should be allocated for the maintenance of these right of way projects. However, if
we consider the aforementioned apprehensions of the walking public, the funds are
not being applied properly. Misuse of said funds may even be thought of by the
taxpayers since nothing good has come up from these constructions. Take for
example that footbridge built over high-tension wires. It is exasperating how our city
engineers could have designed a walkway which assures safety yet goes across
livewires which is really hazardous. No amount of precautionary measures will
address that risk.

Fast Brake
Now, let us not be too quick in finding fault in the authority in terms of handling of the
projects. There are also laudable actions relative to this footbridge which the
government has undertaken.

There was a controversial issue raised by some social media critics about a
malicious post in the internet on an alleged mini-footbridge constructed somewhere
in Manila. It was even tagged as the weirdest project in the world and the person
who posted the same said it made the Philippines look dumb in the International
Engineering Community.

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Not to sound in defense of MMDA, it was proven that the said structure was actually
a part of a good project of the agency. The said mini-footbridge, along with other
miniature structures, is part of the Childrens Road Safety Park in Malate, Manila.
The Park aims to teach school-aged kids the value of knowing and following road
rules. The Park is actually patterned after our Singaporean neighbors where road
signs, rules and safety are taught at an early age so that when they are ready to be
independent, they may already have a clear grasp of road policies.

I think this is what the adults need, a traffic and road safety school or training venue
where highway and roadside manners are taught. That is what is missing among
many Filipinos discipline. It is what is so difficult to teach among many citizens, the
sense of following rules and regulations. People tend to do things deliberately if they
can get away with it.

This brings me back to my initial sigh about people crossing the street right under a
footbridge. This is a gross representation of an undisciplined Filipino community.
Funny thing is, when these pedestrians are nearly sideswiped by motorists, they
have the nerve to curse and raise the finger towards the drivers. Worse, if they are
actually hit, the motorists are naturally the culprits and have to pay for the expenses
the willing victims incur. Even worse, if the victim dies, the driver bears the death
through his conscience forever, aside from paying not just for the expenses incurred
but also for the supposed earnings of the person if he is from the working class.

That is why I find the Park of the MMDA an ideal venue to train people as early as
kids of school age so that they will actually absorb the proper road conduct and bring
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it with them as they grow up. Children are good emulators and if they are taught
early on, there is an assurance that they will live the discipline. Further, this will work
as a slap on the face for adults who remain stubborn in terms of following rules and
regulations. The old adage of Sa mata ng bata, ang mali ay nagiging tama pag
ginagawa ng matanda will no longer hold true since the kids are now wiser and
intellectually stimulated into doing what is right and proper. It would be best for adults
to take after the kids this time.

Formula One
Sometimes it is difficult to give solutions to concerns which are national scale.
People in the Administration would often frown upon suggestions from the public
because they always think that it is not the project that the people are concerned
with but rather on their personal lives. They tend to ignore recommendations from
the stakeholders themselves and come up with their so-called tried and tested fixers.

However, it is always a good exercise to dream of solving the problem and when you
start dreaming, DREAM BIG!

The next entries are a few measures to enhance the way people look at a footbridge.
These are amateur ideas maybe, but I hope with a slight tweak here and there, the
shoe will eventually fit:

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F1.Pimped-up Hike
My boss always says that climbing up the steps up the footbridge is like a hike on a
mountain. Apart from the tens of slippery steps, the bridges look so dilapidated that
people would think twice using it.

Dressing it up is a good way of attracting pedestrians in using it. Republic Act No.
917 assures of a budget in maintaining the footbridge so why dont we use it in
aesthetics. They should be well-lighted, day-in day-out. A clear fiber glass roof may
be installed on it for protection against the rain as well as other elements of nature.
This will also utilize the sun, natural light at that, during daytime. At a specific time
near evening, lamp posts with LED lights will be turned on to illuminate the entire
walkway. Inspirational quotes may be placed along the bridge where pedestrians
may readily see and read them. These may be sponsored by some Philippine
corporations which have safety and health as advocacies. This way, we not only
promote knowledge, we also help the companies realize that their roles are vital in
the promotion of national projects.

F2. Secure It!

Since safety and security is also a factor to be considered to push everyone to use
the bridge, we may ask that a guard or police be detailed and make their rounds
every now and then along the walkway.

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