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Friday, March 13, 2009

A Sick Joke... Courtesy of the MMDA

MMDA's U-turn slots... they've been around for several years now and have since caused many accidents (fatal and non-fatal) and innumerable inconveniences to both motorists and pedestrians alike. However, it seems that to the MMDA, traffic improvement is much more important than the welfare and the lives of pedestrians and motorists, such that it listed "traffic improvement" as one of its main accomplishments in 2008.

The MMDA started installing U-turn slots a few years ago (4 years ago, I reckon) at a RUMORED cost of *BLEEEEP* per slot.

When the U-turn slot scheme was implemented, traffic lights at intersections were instantly rendered useless which initially caused confusion among motorists.

Also, at the time, there was not yet a single footbridge erected... and so, for pedestrians, crossing the street became a deadly game of "patintero". And, many lives were lost because of that.

Alarmed by the numerous accidents and deaths happening around us at the time, an officemate of mine phoned the MMDA office to complain about the situation and suggested that immediate measures needed to be taken. She was simply told that they have already received reports of the accidents and that plans for footbridges have already been made but no budget has been approved yet.

Eventually, after several months, footbridges got constructed one by one.

But even with the footbridges already in place and usable, many people still preferred risking life and limb in crossing the streets. I don't blame them, really, since the footbridges are spaced too far apart and are quite laborious to climb.

And so, the accidents continued. Actually, another life was lost just a couple of nights ago... an old man's.

Despite all the accidents, the MMDA seems to be very proud of its handiwork. So much so that last year, a study by the MMDA reported that the U-turn slots have been generating 40 to 50 million pesos in savings for motorists since 2005.

However, I’ve read somewhere about a research done by two civil engineers from the University of the Philippines which found that an estimated 7.54 BILLION PESOS are LOST due to U-turn related accidents!

I really cannot understand why SOME people can't see the dangers and inconveniences that the U-turn slots present! They're so obvious even without getting into the statistics of it!

Allow me to take them one-by-one:

Non-use of traffic lights presents an open invitation to speed maniacs to drive at very high speeds. (Laws against driving above the speed limit? Oh, come on! We have laws agains theft and graft and corruption and yet... nevermind...)

The U-turn slots require motorists to do dangerous stunts. Take this for example, if you're driving your car coming from Timog Avenue going to West Avenue, upon reaching Quezon Avenue (Delta) you have to cross four BUSY lanes of traffic in less than 300 meters to get to the nearest U-turn slot and, after taking the U-turn, cross another four BUSY lanes (in, again, less than 300 meters) to get to the corner of West Avenue and make your turn. That's like playing "catch-me-if-you-can" with catastrophe! Traffic enforcers used to make a profit out of this kind of driving, they made up a violation called "swerving". Although "swerving" is not a TRUE violation, there's no question that IT IS DANGEROUS!

The concrete barriers that are used to mark the slots are deadly! They also present a ridiculous obstacle for large vehicles. I've already lost count of how many buses and trucks I've seen that had to back up twice or more just to make the turn (causing a small traffic jam in the process). Other than that, the concrete barriers also occupy space (one or two lanes at least).

If traffic on the opposite lane comes to a stand still, the other lane will surely also suffer the same fate soon enough as those who want to take the U-turns will not be able to and, thus, will start piling up and fill up the opposite lane. It's a chain reaction.

The footbridges... well, as I've already mentioned, they're spaced too far apart. Also, standing at least 2 storeys high, the footbridges make for a torturous climb for disabled and elderly people (add to that those with fear of heights). I've seen so many people stopping at about two-thirds of the way up to catch their breath. In addition, the footprints of the supports/columns of these footbridges are quite large that they eat up a significant amount of space on walkways/sidewalks. Come to think of it, they deserve to be pasted with one of those “PANGIT” and “SAGABAL” posters that the MMDA is posting all over the metro!

With that, I rest my case.


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