A green, bikeable, and walkable Metro Manila? It can be done!
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for two measures that she hopes would augur the transformation of Metro Manila and other urban centers in the country into sustainable cities and communities.
Cayetano’s Senate Bill No.65, the ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities Act,’ envisions urban centers and human settlements that are ‘inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable,’ in line with the country’s commitments under Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The bill tasks local governments to ensure public access to social services, preferential use of renewable resources, efficient waste management systems, as well as reliable mass transport, among others.
Under the measure, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall set targets based on key indicators to determine whether a city or community has fully transitioned into a sustainable city or community.
The NEDA indicators shall measure how local governments units (LGUs) are managing urban population living in slums, public transportation access, sustainable urbanization rate (ratio of land utilization to population growth rate), and urban planning.
The targets would also factor in the performance of local governments with respect to cultural heritage protection, disaster preparedness, pollution control, and solid waste management.
The bill assigns the Department of interior and Local Government to provide technical assistance to LGUs, while NEDA would come up with an incentive system for local governments that are able to meet their sustainable development targets.
On the other hand, Cayetano’s Senate Bill No.66, or the ‘Sustainable Transportation Act,’ seeks to promote mobility options to serve the people’s changing needs, such as walking, biking, and efficient mass transportation.
The bill pushes for sustainable and alternative modes of transport, not just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to cut time and travel costs, and to promote an active lifestyle among citizens.
It mandates the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a Sustainable Transport Action Plan that shall lay down the roadmap for national and local transportation systems to be adhered to in all levels throughout the country.
Some highlights of the Sustainable Transport Action Plan are as follows:
-Installation of walkways;
– Designation of bike lanes and provision of bike racks and parking spaces;
-Public transportation as primary mobility option to the general public;
– Establishment of a ferry system;
– Commissioning of a bus rapid transit system; and
– Travel demand management programs (which includes promotion of car pooling and telecommuting programs).
Known as a biker and fitness enthusiast, Cayetano said it is high time to revisit our way of thinking and lifestyle in order to safeguard people’s health and the environment.
She cited the successful rehabilitation of Boracay and current efforts to clean up urban sidewalks, waterways, and public places of obstructions by newly elected mayors of Metro Manila as encouraging signs that urban renewal is possible.
“We need political will at the local level to enforce laws and ordinances to put our cities in order, but it’s also the task of government to set an overall vision to achieve sustainable cities and communities. And so we hope to provide that vision with these two measures,” Cayetano concluded. #