Car-less Osmeña Blvd, railway system pushed

06/14/2011

Can Osmeña Boulevard be declared car-free every Sunday?

That’s what ecology advocates asked Cebu City officials after last Sunday's “Road Revolution” left the boulevard free for pedestrians in order to advocate a redesign of public roads to add bicycle lanes and wide sidewalks, and to shift to the use of environment-friendly transportation.

The whole-day event drew several text complaints to City Hall about the road closure and traffic congestion on detour roads, said City Information Officer Carlo Duga-Duga.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said they will study the proposal of environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr.

“Despite the complaints of the motorists, it went well but to close it every Sunday is a different matter. We have to study that,” Young said.

He said if ever the plan is approved, the road would be closed only after 4 p.m. until midnight on Sundays.

“Based on last Sunday’s experience, the influx of people happens after 4 p.m. when the sun is about to set,” the vice mayor said.

Duga-Duga said it's normal for city residents to complain about last Sunday's road closure.

“But if we could see that it is in fact giving more positive benefits to many, then why not implement it,” Duga-duga said.

Oposa, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for his environment crusade, and several supporters yesterday submitted to the Cebu City Council a petition to overhaul the city's road use system to prioritize pedestrians and bicycle riders.

Their proposal calls for devoting 30 percent of the road for sidewalks, 30 percent for bicycle lanes, 30 percent for mass transport that is “Filipino-made” and pollution-free, and 10 percent for a greenbelt of gardens and trees.

Oposa later appeared in a Provincial Board (PB) session to promote the establishment of a bamboo railway system and solar energy “train.”

Oposa gathered 20,000 signatures for the petition that seeks a pollution-free transportation system in Cebu.

“Our mode of transportation is totally wrong. We need to change it,” Oposa said in last Sunday's opening program of the Road Revolution, which was timed for Independence Day.

Vice Mayor Young said the city government will study Oposa's proposal to close Osmeña Boulevard every Sunday.

Oposa pushed for the use of solar, wind and pedal trains as a long-term mode of mass transport in Cebu.

The 20,000 signatures was in keeping with a Local Government Code provision requiring 1,000 voters or 100 voters in each town to initiate a petition for local legislature to propose or amend an ordinance.

Oposa said Cebu City Hall and the Capitol could invest in a railway while the transport sector can form a cooperative to manage the franchise for the railway roads.

He said jeepney and bus drivers should schedule their trips to free the roads for pedestrians and bikers.

Oposa said he already promoted his plan in Puerto Princesa, Marikina, Iloilo and Davao but he wanted Cebu to be the pioneer of the project.

“Cebu is the perfect case study because it is located in the central part of the country,” he said.

He said an eco-friendly mass transportation system will make Cebuanos less dependent on toxic and expensive motor vehicles.

Architect Joy Martinez said they will also coordinate with the Cebu City council on a road network system that will “work” for Cebu city.

“We should push for bigger sidewalks and plant more trees,” Martinez said.

At the PB, Oposa said the “self-contained renewable energy train” developed by Cebuano engineer Brian Yuson can be implemented in Cebu.

The “train” was made of a donated golf cart powered by six batteries that can be recharged with a windmill, a solar panel and a pedal system.

PB Member Sun Shimura invited Oposa to explain his plans to the Daanbantayan municipal council in Malapascua Island since they enforce a no-motorized vehicle policy there.

PB member Arleigh Sitoy said he wanted the bamboo railway system tried in Cordova town.

PB Member Wilfredo Caminero said Oposa's proposal should be presented to the Cebu Provincial Reclamation Authority while Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said she will raise this proposal to the Cebu mayors. (Cebu Daily News)

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