March 3, 2024

The city government plans to transform more roads into environment-friendly infrastructures this year as part of its initiative for environment sustainability and urban renewal.

Engr. Richard Lardizabal of the City Engineering Office Planning Programming and Construction Division said apart from the ongoing sidewalk improvement projects along M. H. Del Pilar, G. H. Del Pilar, Carantes St., and Carino St., the city has an ongoing similar project at Hillside barangay, particularly the route going to Scout Barrio while a similar project is also currently being worked out at Sto. Rosario.

The project incorporates environment-friendly features such as the use of perforated concrete blocks and bio-retension fixtures for drainages and the provision of dedicated bike lanes and planting or greenery strips. 

The project has been criticized by some for constricting instead of widening the roads, saying it is not viable considering the narrow road width and the traffic congestion problems of the city.

Lardizabal said on the contrary, the project did not cause reduction of the existing road lane being traversed by vehicles.

“The size of the road lane was maintained.  What was done was to widen and improve the sidewalks to include dedicated bike lanes and planting strips and incorporate bio-retension fixtures,” he said.

Lardizabal said the perforated concrete blocks and bio-retensions for drainages were used to catch rain and surface water as “a nature-based solution to recharge groundwater” and contribute to the preservation of the city’s water table.

The dedicated bike lanes were incorporated to “encourage people to use bicycles as a sustainable low-carbon transport mode and at the same time as a low-cost and health-improving way to travel.”

The planting strips provide “full segregation of dedicated bike lane from the road as well as serving as buffer zones from air and noise pollutants.”

With these projects, the city aims to “promote pedestrianization and sustainability to reduce adverse impacts on the environment by increasing the development of spaces, preventing environmental degradation and creating a walkable city and superior interior environments that are comfortable, safe, and productive for the people.”

The project is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 which includes the development of “active transport networks” giving “highest priority to pedestrians and cyclists in the hierarchy of road users and establishment of “safe and well-connected active mobility networks” to involve widening of sidewalks, development of greenways and adding segregated micro-mobility corridors among others.

It is also in line with the Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 202-100 providing guidelines for the establishment of a network of cycling lanes and walking paths to support people’s mobility and Department of Public Works and Highways Department Order 88 s. 2020 also prescribing guidelines on the design of bicycle facilities along national roads.

The design was also based on the “green or complete street” concept which was among the recommendations cited in the final report on the study conducted by the ASEAN Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund dated January 2023. – Aileen P. Refuerzo