Once More—Traffic Woes!

This is the second time I am writing about the traffic woes in the City of Naga.

Being the premier City of Bicolandia, it experiences irritating and annoying daily traffic woes similar maybe to the hustle and bustle endured by any other economically booming city in the country.

Not long ago the king of the road is the ineradicable smoke-belching Jeepney—it stops even in the middle of the street to pick up passengers disregarding the vehicles following it, worse they load and unload beside the bold signs that say “No Loading and Unloading” in many city locations.

Then comes the Tricycle which outfoxes the Jeepney—it swerves and maneuvers whenever it wants and deliberately plies in the middle of the road. When you blow your horn to alert it that you have to pass, you are on the receiving end of a disdain look from its driver as if tricycles have absolute entitlement anywhere on the side of the road. Even on highways, where they are supposed to be banned, they stay in the middle of the road.

But, lo and behold, it’s the antediluvian pedal-driven padyak that rules even the main streets nowadays! Borrowing the title of the popular Beatles’ song, pagjaks are “Here, There and Everywhere”.

The fundamental issue in question is arguably how traffic management is effectively being handled and implemented. As discussed in my past column, and for repeat information to those who are intellectually forgetful or bankrupt, basic traffic management is composed of the three (3) “E’s”—“Education, Enforcement and Engineering”—in the absence of one element, it is bound to fail, as simple as that.

Moreover, it is presumed that the traffic planners who were sent to learn this concept in Manila and elsewhere abroad are supposedly and adequately equipped with how and when to use these elemental tools in the effective implementation of traffic management. But, more than anything else, it’s the use of Sentido Comun—yes, common sense in English, which is perhaps uncommon to many traffic planners, is the most important element of all!

Consider this; is it practical, or does it make sense to divide the same direction two-vehicle lanes street into one exclusive for going straight and the other for turning right upon reaching the intersection with traffic lights? This design is only effective if there is an added provisional lane for those vehicles solely turning right. This is to avoid disruption of the two-lane vehicle traffic flow going straight, otherwise, a long single file line will rush and form now that the two-lane suddenly turns into just one going straight—exactly what is happening at present on the bridge before crossing Magsaysay and Penafrancia Avenues.

Was there any comprehensive study or statistical data that they can show on the density of vehicles that go straight and those that turn right at a given time and day in those specific intersection as a basis and support for the placements of those newly purchased orange barricades? This is important in logical and scientific planning to justify and conclude the necessity or the disadvantage of having them in that particular intersection, and not just install them indiscriminately—an antithetical to the technical concept of the Engineering Element in the 3 E’s they were taught.

This is not the first time it happened. Remember the same barricades they installed for vehicles turning right from Magsaysay to Basilica—the subject of my previous column? After people complained about the unsoundness, if not the absurdity of it, they finally removed them but only after months of traffic chaos they caused. Soon a separate additional lane sans barricades for use of those turning right to Basilica was constructed—the right thing to do!

In Daet, Camarines Norte, these same barricades are used to separate the two opposite lane directions on their busiest streets. They are installed to prevent either side from swerving or making U-Turns wildly. Their barricades create order in the flow of traffic, the opposite of what the barricades are used for here in the City of Naga.

And, where are the traffic enforcers when they are most needed during rush hours from 7AM to 9AM and 5pm to 7pm, especially along Magsaysay and Panganiban Avenues where traffic is heaviest? Well, they are all in parade rest inside the compound of City Hall exulting their own extraordinary accomplishments (?), or they are on their way home either way—alleluia!

In the meantime, Vehicles with blinking lights switched on are seen randomly parked on both sides of those two major streets obstructing the smooth flow of traffic in all directions.

“Strictly No Stopping” signboards in those two mentioned streets during the critical rush hours; to include as well banning of trucks, tricycles, and padyaks along Magsaysay Ave. in the same specified time periods be set up—this was my ten cents unsolicited advice a long time ago which was perhaps listed on the water by the traffic gurus because it was not their idea.

Well, a hard nut to crack is not just being hardheaded or difficult—it is having a cracked and swollen head by all means that permeates the traffic planning office indeed.

Finally, let me ask the readers these questions—are the drivers of the jeepneys and tricycles fully educated about the traffic signs, rules, and regulations? Do they comprehend what is written on the signs? Do we have adequate infrastructures or tools to support the smooth flow of traffic such as functioning traffic lights and readable signage? Do we have strict enforcement of national road regulations and local traffic ordinances?

If one of the questions is answered negatively then the 3 E’s in traffic management is bound to fail.

They have disciplined drivers in Subic Free Port and elsewhere, it is not impossible for the City of Naga to follow suit if it wants to be a model city in the region.

No political issues here whatsoever…just constructive criticism from a traffic beat-up ciudadano.