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imns



A reminder: sidewalks are for people


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:07:00 09/15/2010

Filed Under: Construction & Property, Travel & Commuting, People

JENNIFER CRISTOBAL?S letter titled ?Vanished sidewalk? (Inquirer, 8/10/10), on how a developer of a condominium simply and arbitrarily expropriated a public sidewalk space for its own selfish ends, shows how weak and anti-people city and barangay planning and bylaws have become. It?s akin to owners of large residential properties who push their boundaries down to the water?s edge and view all passersby as trespassers.

But it?s not just a Manila problem. Living in Cagayan de Oro, I have noticed a few sidewalks here and there in the city, but eventually the pedestrian has to be on the street along with motor vehicles because the sidewalk is short and ends abruptly. Out in the suburbs, people are lucky that there is anything at all between the road and the shop besides mud and a canal. And in my subdivision, there is just an ordinary road that has to accommodate all traffic?from trisikads to semitrailers and (because of the lack of sidewalks) all sorts of pedestrians, since many people live right up to the edge of the road.

Maybe it?s due to poor planning, because there are a number of traffic black spots which consist of dogleg turns and three-way merging traffic though there are warning signs around: ?Densely populated area,? ?Accident prone area.? And going to a side road from the major highway usually entails doing a sharp right-hand turn and slowing down to avoid the traffic coming up at you. No allowance is made for gradual merging from the side shoulder road. That would cost too much money, and simply not budgeted for.

Cristobal is right: ?sidewalks are the life of urban neighborhoods; they should never be for sale or lease to the highest bidder.?

But it?s a sad legacy of all the years of individual and corporate corruption that relegates pedestrians to the default level of the landless and the homeless.

If respect for human rights is to be more than parsley on dog food, it should begin at the basic level of sidewalks. Streets are for traffic, sidewalks are for people.

?WALTER P KOMARNICKI,

langka958@gmail.com



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