More than 3,000 people gathered in central Manila on the morning of February 7, 2016, to push the city to dedicate more of its road space to its “carless citizens.” The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, or MMDA, partially closed a 5.5 km stretch of Roxas boulevard in the Intramuros region of the city, giving space for cyclists, runners and walkers to move freely through the city. Organizers say that they crafted the event to show what road sharing policies would look like if fully implemented.
“We adopted the system of the US” says Paulo Burro, who has been heavily involved in the organization of road sharing events. But the Philippines has only about 3% of the land area of the US, and it’s broken up over 7,107 separate islands. Eyeing a rapidly growing population of 101 million, leaders are looking for other ways to organize the nation’s cities.
“We are not against cars,” asserts Burro, “we just want proper use of road space”
The main obstacles to greater road sharing, says Burro, are public opinion and the transition of power following upcoming elections. “After the elections, we will have to begin again with negotiations…this is one of the problems with the Philippine system. The other road block is we are very dependent on motor vehicles at this point because of the comfort that they bring. At the same time, we’re experiencing this major traffic problem…People argue that if we take public transport, it will be hot, crowded, dangerous…so we’re trying to get them out of that mindset.”