Expert wary of closing Roxas Blvd.

A TRANSPORTATION expert is wary of the consequences of a Manila councilor’s proposal to close Roxas Boulevard to vehicular traffic on Sundays, saying it would adversely affect the mobility of urban dwellers and may even worsen pollution.

Under Manila City Councilor Salvador Philip H. Lacuna’s Draft Ordinance 8724, Roxas Boulevard will be closed every Sunday to give way to more outdoor exercise activities. The so-called “MOVE (MOtor VEhicle Free) Manila Ordinance” was approved on third and final reading and is now awaiting the signature of Mayor Maria Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan to take effect.

However, Rene S. Santiago, a founding member of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, told BusinessWorld in a Viber message that pollution may worsen if diverted vehicles spend more fuel in the process.

“The slower the vehicles, due to traffic congestion, the more fuel [they] consume,” Mr. Santiago said.

Transport advocate Ira F. Cruz welcomed Manila’s initiative for promoting active transportation and reducing carbon emissions, echoing the sentiment of reclaiming roads for people.

Transport planner and economist Robert Y. Siy, Jr., in an email to BusinessWorld, also welcomed the pending ordinance and supported expanding car-less Sundays to create healthier, more leisure-friendly urban environments.

While small businesses stand to benefit should the bayside highway be closed for leisure and commercial activities, Mr. Siy said exemplifies the “severe shortage of parks and green public spaces.”

For Mr. Santiago, though, the closure of both the north and southbound lanes of the highway from Padre Burgos Avenue to Quirino Avenue every Sunday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. carries a consequence.

“Sunday is usually a day with less traffic, but also a day for family promenade or cruising on the Boulevard. Closure for [the] entire stretch of the Boulevard will adversely affect these segments of urban dwellers,” he said. “Because of sea breeze, air pollution is less concentrated in the Bay area; thus, it [may be] the wrong place to make an impact on dangerous levels of vehicular population.”

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did not reject the proposal, according to Mr. Lacuna. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana