Tricycles PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 14:45

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — The next referendum to be done by the city government should answer this question: SHOULD TRICYCLES BE PARTIALLY BANNED FROM CITY STREETS?

Many Philippine cities, the highly-urbanized ones like Manila, Quezon, Cebu, Davao and Bacolod, have banned or limited from city streets and centers the operation of tricycles in a bold move to ease traffic congestion and regulate pollution, thereby creating a quieter, cleaner atmosphere and pedestrian-friendly way of life. This can make sense for Zamboanga, a city whose politicians, the policy-makers, are afraid of the consequences of the ballot. The opponents to regulate tricycle operation within the city limit, at least for a specific time, argue that people would have a difficult time catching a ride home from heavy shopping and would drive the slow-footed senior citizens with consternation, dismay late afternoon churchgoers and irritate mobility-challenged people like state workers, young mothers and store employees.

After his ride to a stunning victory with the powerful and united “Bisayan” vote in 1989, the late Mayor Vitaliano D. Agan, a “dominista” whose “crus” (partner) was retired Councilor Dodong “Pecho de Bronze” Cabanlit, attempted to regulate the operation of tricycles by designating them with a color code. It didn’t work because a passenger would have to take at least two rides to reach a destination, thus, expensive and time consuming.

With the coding system out of the way, the Tricycle Adjudication Board was created headed by the late Ven Anova to determine which tricycles had franchises because the “colorums” were growing higher in numbers than the legalized ones. There was no effort to disenfranchise the tricycle business and their drivers but to limit to 3,000 the number of three-wheelers running around town and nearby barrios. With this on the line, it was touted that the operators and drivers, fearing displacement of livelihood, would take their grievance to the polls. And, as Lord Melbourne of England said, “If people are made to do what they dislike, you must allow for a little ill-humor.” And, so, for decades after Henry de Leon’s commuter miracle evolved, no politician dared to touch the tricycle issue.

The headache for Mayor Climaco-Salazar has become even more severe. Adding to the street mania are hundreds of motorcycles. Parking on city streets that has all the more reduced car-driving space has worsened congestion. The space needs of private cars and other vehicles for those spaces have come into great conflict.

Tricycles, motorcycles, service trucks and automobiles hog space. As the use of all these vehicles grew faster than the Land Transportation Office (LTO) could imagine, the space for parking grew out of proportion. Travel speed downtown has slowed and public streets have suffered. The road space for private vehicles now competes sharply with the pedestrians, public transportation, emergency service vans, motorcycles and tricycles.

The visionary Cesar C. Climaco tried, with some degree of success, to pedestrianize the city center by ordering a “walk-in city” days leading to the celebration of Fiesta Pilar. But his time in City Hall was short. He failed to propose better designs and new transportation technologies that would have guaranteed a decongested city center.

Better traffic designs can tame tricycle traffic. And, yes, the most overused political remark: POLITICAL WILL. Let’s see that will put into real practice.