The Internet Debates: Is Makati Really ‘Pedestrian-Friendly’?
May 24, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
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May 24, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
Let’s face it. Commuting in the Philippines is an adventure full of confounding road signs, never-ending traffic jams, and a pinch of “Are we there yet” confusion. That’s why cities that work to improve their transport system and road infrastructures receive praise because any glimmer of hope is a step in a progressive direction.
Makati City is considered one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the country, but an online discussion is revealing deviating viewpoints on its walkability claim. Here’s what happened:
“Ang hassle naman maging pedestrian sa @MakeItMakati,” Twitter user and cycling advocate Lester Babiera wrote. “Tatawid ka na lang ng kalye — mga ten steps na diretsong lakad lang — pero kailangan mo pa mag-underpass.”
His observation highlighted that these structures were for vehicular convenience, questioning their necessity when people could safely cross the streets without relying on such underpasses.
Ang hassle naman maging pedestrian sa @MakeItMakati. Tatawid ka na lang ng kalye — mga ten steps na diretsong lakad lang — pero kailangan mo pa mag-underpass.
Para ba sa safety? Nope. Para sa convenience ng mga sasakyan. Kayang ligtas na tumawid na walang inaakyat na hagdanan. pic.twitter.com/sx2keiHiX6
— Lester (@bujibabiera) May 22, 2023
Makati City has numerous pedestrian underpasses in the city’s Central Business District (CBD). These underground walkways were built to solve the CBD’s heavy traffic congestion in the early ’90s and are now used by approximately 250,000 commuters.
Like any other online discussion, the tweet drew different reactions from netizens. Some proudly flaunted their seasoned status as Makati commuters, saying the pedestrian underpasses never bothered them. In fact, they think walking these underground walkways adds a dash of exercise to their urban routine.
Idk. I actually enjoyed the underpass in Makati. Not as crowded, not as busy, hidden from the scorching heat of the sun. Hindi na need makipagpatintero sa mga sasakyan plus I could get the excercise I need as an office girl who sits around all day. https://t.co/3x4ntGra3e
— Leh⁷ 🐳 (@Lehhh03) May 22, 2023
Others also stated that pedestrian underpasses are the most efficient solution, given the wideness of CBD’s streets and the volume of pedestrians — especially during rush hour.
Length of the walk is just one of the considerations in deciding a solution for people and vehicle traffic. If you consider the width of makati CBD streets, amount of pedestrians, PH temperature, transport system – having an underpass is the most efficient solution.
— volleyaddictako 🌻 (@volleyaddictako) May 22, 2023
On the flip side, people argued these underpasses aren’t connected and well-ventilated. “If I were to walk along Ayala Avenue to say, Glorietta, I’d have to go up and down 5-6 underpasses,” said one netizen.
They claim as well that if convenience was the goal of pedestrian underpasses, they should be accessible 24/7. “When we use the underpass at night, kanya- kanyang flashlight and the escalators are turned off, so ang hassle,” another netizen wrote.
Then there’s the issue of accessibility. It’s rare to find an underpass with a working elevator, and escalators are often out of order.
I agree with you fully. Just in case lang may magsabi na “this is the practice in other developed countries:”
In those areas, those underpasses are linked to an MRT and has a fully functioning elevator, escalator, and other ways of access. Since when was that the case here…?
— Wilfred Gabriel Gapas (Gab) (@senseigab) May 22, 2023
In a country with over a million vehicles and a lack of public infrastructure, commuting for one to three hours one-way has become the norm. It’s understandable why countless Filipino commuters demand better.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group said Filipinos spend approximately more than two weeks a year stuck in traffic, which costs them about PHP100,000 in lost income. Let’s also not forget the countless near-daily stories people share on social media about their struggle to get a ride.
While Makati has done a lot to encourage walking and make its streets more pedestrian-friendly, there’s still work to be done in terms of accessibility. It’s time for the Philippines — not just Makati — to prioritize pedestrians and raise the bar for what it means to be a truly walkable city.
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