I recently met up with a friend who just returned from a business trip in Europe. After talking about the awesome sights, the quaint towns, the hills being alive with the sound of music, my friend suddenly whispered in awe, her eyes wide and shining: the cars… they actually slow down and STOP so we can cross the road.
Cut to a couple of days ago. I was crossing the road at the back of Shopwise in Cubao. I stuck out my hand to an approaching taxi as a signal to slow down and let the pedestrians pass. The driver IGNORED me and drove along, and I resisted the urge to slam my hand on his vehicle in revenge and to give him a piece of my mind. Even worse, this was the second time this week that this happened to me.
The Philippines is not as hopeless as it seems, though. A couple of months ago, I was in the campus of Ateneo De Manila University to pick up some reports. All around the campus were signs posted with information about the campus new one-way and more pedestrian friendly traffic scheme. Aside from the usual maps and road signs, the campus cleverly used life-size cardboard cut-outs of Atenean personalities encouraging everyone to support the scheme and reminding drivers of proper behavior towards pedestrians.
I cross a lane from the parking lot to one of the buildings. To my utter amazement, cars actually slowed down from afar and STOPPED at the pedestrian lane to allow me cross. This is not Europe! There is hope!
I expressed my delight over this rare pedestrian experience to Arnie Batac, Director of the Universitys Facilities Management Office. He replied that it was not an easy task and emphasized on the importance of an information campaign such as the cardboard people to remind drivers on how to behave towards crossing pedestrians. It is such as simple and basic idea: Drivers, slow down
and stop at the pedestrian lane when you see pedestrians waiting to cross, and wait for them to cross. Yet this kind of behavior is not second nature for our drivers. You really have to tell them to do it; otherwise they would not do it.
Everyday I am a witness to the battle of pedestrian vs. car, and by their size and mechanical muscle, the cars usually win. With the right education campaign and implementation of rules towards awareness, it does not have to be that way.