Walk Tall!

Demanding Urban Road Space as a Human Right in the Philippines

Tony Oposa_eventphoto

Tony Oposa Jr. (center) with other participants of the knowledge sharing event

On 17 June 2014, an event featuring an unique theme was hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Head quarters in Manila. Antonio Oposa, Jr., an attorney and a leading voice of Non Motorized Transport (NMT) users was present to highlight the principles espoused by the Road Sharing Movement, a citizen-led petition demanding for shared road space to enable safe walking, cycling and convenient public transport system in the Philippines. The event was organized as a joint knowledge-sharing event of the ADB’s Transport and Poverty Communities of Practice (CoPs) in cooperation with Clean Air Asia.

Oposa shared the various channels which ordinary citizens in the Philippines are using to demand for pro-poor and sustainable mobility options that equally benefit commuters, pedestrians and cyclists as much as private car users. The session also gave insights regarding the process of filing the petition by ordinary citizens to demand for equity in road space and how this legal pathway may be adopted in other cities or countries around Asia.

Approximately 2 million Filipinos own private vehicles in the Philippines[1]. Ironically, the other 98% road users (or the 98 million Filipino people) who cannot afford motor vehicles are not given a proper place to walk and bike nor a safe, convenient, reliable and inexpensive public transportation.

In 2013, the Philippine government estimated a daily loss of Php 2.4 billion (US$2.2 million) from the economy due to traffic congestion prompting the President to outline plans to address the traffic situation through massive public works project. These planned infrastructure projects are purely road works, adding more lane kilometers of road through elevated expressway and tollways, aimed to decrease travel time of vehicles primarily private cars. The caveat: nothing in the pipeline projects indicate any planned investments to improve mobility for majority of the population that rely on walking, cycling or public transport.

A civil society-driven ‘Share the Road Movement’ emerged out of these developments to give voice to the commuting public, pedestrians and cyclists of the Philippines. Led by a team of local and international lawyers, the dedicated volunteers are collating data and materials on road accidents, vehicle to road-space ratios, population to road use data in key cities, case law on abuse of rights, and procedural issues (among various other related issues) in order to hold the government responsible for their inaction to provide ample road space. Last February 2014, the citizens comprising the Share the Road Movement filed a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan[2] and mandamus for the government to divide the roads in half: half for cars and half for efficient and safe transport systems such as bike lanes and sidewalks and affordable, accessible and clean public transport systems.

Some of the other continuing citizen-let innovations around the Road Sharing Movement is the establishment of an internationally prestigious “Walkable Communities Awards” which is planned to be launched in the Philippines by late 2014.

[1] Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board,

[2] A Writ of Kalikasan is a special legal remedy given to ordinary people when there is threat of environmental damage that affects two or more cities or provinces. This kind of petition is filed directly with the Supreme Court. Once the writ is granted, the court requires responsible government institutions to respond immediately to the concern. A mandamus, meanwhile, is an act by the Supreme Court to compel government bodies to implement an act that they are obliged by the law to do.

Categorised in: About Walkability, Campaigns

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