TO maximize the benefits or utility of any resource, its use must be allocated properly. Typically you would like to be able to achieve the best return in terms of profit, utility or long term use. Unfortunately, this is not taken into account in certain situations where personal preference, image, ignorance or lack of clear thought is involved.
The sad truth is that when your own assets are involved you would tend to take a more rational view of how to properly allocate your personal resources compared to when you are entrusted with public resources.
Let us take the example of the bicycle lanes that have recently been added to many of the major roads in Metro Manila. Is this the best resource allocation of existing road space? We have to consider that these bicycle lanes were added by taking away road space from other vehicles. While only half a normal road lane is allocated for these bicycle lanes, they are often fenced in with bollards which makes it impossible for normal 4 wheeled vehicles to use even when there are no bicycles using these lanes.
Given the traffic situation in the National Capital Region with hardly any new roads being added, was there any real professional study of the significance of taking away half a lane from the current road users? Does anyone know how many bicycle users actually use these lanes? Did road use really improve in terms of benefit by the number of people? Was traffic congestion alleviated by the bicycle lanes?
It certainly sounds ecofriendly and progressive that Metro Manila now has bike lines! However, shouldn’t the public know the additional road congestion it creates and therefore the longer commute time? Shouldn’t we also know how many people use these bicycle lanes and who these people are? It is very frustrating to see that these bicycle lanes are hardly being used while the road space for traditional vehicles have been reduced creating more traffic congestion.
One can argue that anyone can use these bicycle lanes but in reality this is not the case. As a senior citizen, I don’t think it would be reasonable for you to expect older people like me to take their bicycles to go to their doctor’s appointment or to work in the heat of the sun or in the middle of monsoon weather.
Could these bicycle lanes also be a true substitute for the commuting public? Not really, since we all know that the poorest commuters typically live the farthest from their place of work and a 20 or 30 km ride under our tropical conditions and too many reckless driver would make daily bicycle rides too much of a hardship and risk. Yet, money was spent on putting up these bicycle lanes and has reduced the road carrying capacity of major thoroughfares.
Would it be correct to say that this was an exercise in futility?
Perhaps, unless it can be proven that more people have benefitted from these bicycle lanes than the commuters and the private car owners that have been displaced.
The views and comments of the author are his own and not of the BusinessMirror or FINEX. The author was 2016 FINEX President, currently a Professorial Lecturer at UP Diliman and an active Entrepreneur. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.
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