Tag Archives: Metro Manila

Thanks, Pasig City for the protected bike lane in Julia Vargas!

This is my first post for 2018 so I want this to be about something that is close to one of my advocacies. 🙂

As many people close to me know, I promote biking as an alternative mode of transportation for urban areas like Metro Manila and that is why my graduate thesis is about it, particularly about sky (elevated) bike lanes. We are not yet “there” in terms of creating a truly world-class city for both drivers and bikers/walkers but every vision starts with small steps, right?

Therefore, it brought so much joys when I discovered that the previously unprotected/non-segregated bike lane in Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City is now protected (well, at least the CBD-bound side)!

Finally, protected bike lane at Julia Vargas in Pasig City [Image by JR Suarin]

Finally, protected bike lane at Julia Vargas in Pasig City [Image by JR Suarin]

While the barricades are not really permanent, this is already a good step, which will hopefully encourage more people to bike especially that Ortigas CBD’s traffic is getting worse each day. (Photos above and below were taken at around 5:30 pm so the traffic was heavier on the other side of the road, with more people driving out of the CBD.)

Let us contribute to the re-creation of our cities into more liveable ones--let's bike or walk to work/school! [Image by JR Suarin]

Let us contribute to the re-creation of our cities into more liveable ones–let’s bike or walk to work/school! [Image by JR Suarin]

The results of an online survey that I had done for my thesis showed that, indeed, many people are particularly concerned about their safety on the road when it comes to biking. (I will blog about the results of my study in one of my future posts.) Therefore, the creation of protected/segregated bike lanes addresses this safety issue.

One thing that the Pasig City government should address though is the perennial congestion in Julia Vargas. I reside in the area so I am very familiar with the horrendous traffic there almost everyday so that we usually simply walk  or take Ortigas Avenue instead if we need to go to the CBD. The provision of the barricades will really be good for bikers but may already be causing some frustration (or exasperation?) to many motorists especially that we also noticed that one lane is now or will be soon devoted to car-pooling (i.e., exclusive for vehicles with 4 or more passengers).

While the car-pooling policy has good intents and must be applauded, the LGU should revisit it because Julia Vargas is a narrow road to begin with. Previously, it was three-laned on each side but with the new policy, it becomes a two-lane road on each side (excluding the bike lane). Here is an image, which I lifted from Autodeal.com.ph.

Illustration for the new carpool policy along Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City  [Image by Rio Hondo; with thanks to Autodeal.com.ph also for the article.]

Illustration for the new carpool policy along Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City [Image by Rio Hondo; with thanks to Autodeal.com.ph also for the article.]

As you can imagine, a previously three-lane road now reduced to a two-lane one (with restrictions on the 2nd lane) will likely aggravate or is already aggravating the traffic situation in the area. (The non-apprehension phase of the policy began on 28 February.) There are also compounding issues since the policy will affect those who needed to turn right or left and are in the ‘wrong’ lane because of their occupancy. (Pasig City may want to “listen” to public sentiments through online forums such as those in Tsikot.com so as to come to the best proposition for the sake of public good.)

Nevertheless, one good thing with this policy is that it encourages people to really re-evaluate their decisions to bring their cars (especially if the trip is not very far) and if bringing a car is indeed essential, find alternative routes.

As to the bike lanes, my next question is on why the bike lane on other side of Julia Vargas is not protected/segregated. If safety-conscious bikers will now use their bikes to work to Ortigas CBD, then, how can they bike back to their homes (or cars that are parked somewhere) when the other bike lane still feels unsafe?

Speaking of drivers/motivators, a good business model that can be driven by this bike lane policy is the emergence of parking areas in the outer-vicinity of CBDs. For example, the city government together with the private sector can build parking areas–to be rented at affordable fees–near or in the Tiendesitas side so that drivers from outside Pasig City (and those who cannot really leave their cars at home) can simply park their cars there and then bike to work into the CBD.

However, such willingness to bike to work or at least park their cars somewhere outside the CBDs and continue the journey through biking will be encouraged if both policy and structural dimensions are resolved. Therefore, I continue to look forward to more action and innovation from our government (both local and national) and private sector so that, together, we can rebuild our cities into more liveable and healthier ones!

While we and our authorities continue to find ways toward this end, should not we enjoy this protected bike lane even with all its limitations?

Suffer in traffic or... simply bike or carpool? The choice is yours to make! [Image by JR Suarin]

Suffer in traffic or… simply bike or carpool? The choice is yours to make! [Image by JR Suarin]

Come on, bike with me along Julia Vargas! 


This is not a paid blog. I do not request for donation to maintain this blog but I appeal for your kind love to our fellow earth-stewards and Mother Earth by planting a tree (or trees!) on your birthday/s! 🙂 Namaste!

My niece asks her Mom, “Why are the rivers here in Aurora clean?”

We were on the way back to Manila from a family vacation in Aurora Province when my niece, Danica, suddenly asks her Mom, “Why are the rivers here in Aurora clean?”

In urban children’s minds, clean waters just seem to be a figment of their imagination. In Aurora, Danica found out that they are still real.

Everyone in the car was surprised with that question. It was a very simple one but carries with it such a complex dimension of environmental degradation. Being the environmental professional in the family, I was expected to answer her question. Frankly, I was challenged with her question, too.

In a mix of Tagalog and English, I tried to give her a simple answer. I told her that what she sees in the city (Metro Manila) are just like the ones she saw in Aurora, many years ago. Except that the city dwellers did not love and care for their rivers so much that they took them for granted and did not give a damn about throwing their garbage and waste on them. I wanted to give her a more complex answer about the impact of population growth and urbanization to the environment but I decided that my first reply was enough for now.

Days after that, hubby and I were still pondering about her question. We realized that in Danica’s mind, it was “natural” to see dirty river waters so, therefore, it was unimaginable to actually see clean rivers! Now we fully understood why she immediately jumped into (and did not want to leave anymore) the river bordering Mom’s farm. We had to convince her that we are going to another river the next day.

When Danica saw this river, we couldn’t get her out of the water anymore! (By the way, this is one of the fantastic views if you are perched on the edge of Mom’s farm).

Her question touched us deeply because we thought about the other children in the urban areas–those who have not even seen a clean river or stream. What a terrible kind of deprivation that they will all grow up not even experiencing how is it to wade and swim in clean bodies of freshwater. Of course, they can always go to the nearest pools in 5-star hotels or beaches such as in Batangas (which are just 4 to 5 hours away from Manila) but it is still different to experience the non-salty and natural (non-chlorinated) types of river waters. Bathing in freshwater is stilldifferent from bathing in salt water and artificial pools. It is still a different experience to marvel at and sit on those huge rocks, knowing that those were shaped by the rushing of the waters over thousands of years.

Danica and Anne at the Caunayan Falls. Suddenly, their joys are mine, too.

What have we urbanites done to our environment, specifically, our river waters? When will we ever pause for a while and think about how we are depriving many generations of children the sheer joy of wading and swimming in crystal-clear river waters? And we are not yet asking about the grave health and ecological implications of water pollution here…

As we ponder on these questions, let me then share with you a brief rundown of some of the salient points (in terms of prohibitions) of the Philippines Clean Water Act of 2004 (Republic Act 9275).

Under the law, it is prohibited to:

1. Deposit material of any kind which could cause water pollution;

2. Discharge, inject, or allow to seep into the earth any substance that would pollute groundwater;

3. Operate facilities that discharge regulated water pollutants without the valid required permits;

4. For LGUs not to comply with the Water Quality Management Action Plan; and

5. Directly use booster pumps in the distribution system or tamper with the water supply.

So, dear readers, I hope that in our own little ways, we can become environmental advocates even in our own families and communities. Who knows, the child who listens to us may just, one day, become the Secretary of the Environment, a multi-awarded ecological expert, or even a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Environment.

As they say, a single drop on the water creates not just a single wave but a ripple effect that extends far beyond the point of contact.

Be that drop and create your own ripples!


This is not a paid blog.