The lack of respect for pedestrian lanes makes crossing the street potentially unsafe, but even the sidewalks are not spared from vehicular traffic, particularly by motorcycles, posing a grave threat to people who walk. According to a Thinking Machines report in November 2015, “More pedestrians are hit by motorcycles than by any other kind of vehicle – and the numbers are rising.” The report, which draw on data from the Metropolitan Manila Accident Reporting and Analysis System (MMARAS), shows that in 2014, there were 2400 reports of pedestrians being hit by motorcycles, compared to 1331 hit by cars. In any case, we should be alarmed by the broader metric in the same report that “pedestrians made up the 46.2% of Metro Manila’s 4,024 road fatalities since 2005” – more than twice the global average.
The report identifies two explanations for the motorcycle menace: the first being the increase in the number of motorcycles, and the second getting to the heart of the sidewalk problem:
“Motorcycles and pedestrians also tend to occupy the same marginalized portions of the road. Motorcycles sometimes ride on the sidewalks to avoid traffic. On roads where there are no sidewalks, pedestrians tend to walk along on the road’s shoulder or gutter, where motorcycles also pass. In these situations, collisions are bound to happen.”
Any resident of Metro Manila can relate to the above paragraph, especially in areas like Katipunan (C-5), Aurora Blvd, among others, where motorcycles would try to insinuate themselves in the sidewalk in order to go past the traffic.
As part of our advocacy of making Metro Manila “walkable”, we must keep the sidewalks safe, which in turn means keeping motorcycles off the sidewalks. As transport safety advocate Dinna Dayao said, “Sidewalks are for people.”