Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City is notorious for being one of the most chaotic roads in Metro Manila. With multiple lanes, exits, and hundreds of thousands of vehicles plying the route all year round, accidents and traffic jams are an everyday occurrence.
One of the solutions that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has come up with is the establishment of exclusive lanes for bicycles, PUVs, and motorcycles. In a country where lane discipline might as well be an alien concept, here’s hoping that the coming changes will make traversing Commonwealth just a little bit less stressful.
In MMDA Resolution No. 22-15, the right outermost lane of Commonwealth will be an exclusive bicycle lane. The second and third lanes will be for public-utility vehicles such as jeeps, UV Express, buses, and motorcycles. The remaining lanes will be for the use of all other motor vehicles.
According to MMDA acting chairman Engr. Carlo Dimayuga III, “the exclusive motorcycle lanes located at the third lane from the right along Commonwealth will depend upon the road conditions as the road has some inconsistencies in terms of lane width due to different construction projects.”
The MMDA, working with the Department of Public Works and Highways, as well as the Quezon City LGU, will install traffic signs and proper lane markings from Elliptical Road to Doña Carmen Subdivision (and vice versa).
In theory, exclusive lanes for bikes, PUVs, and motorcycles are good. But as always, it’s in the implementation that really determines if it’s all going to work as planned. Anyone who rides a bicycle can tell you that all those kilometers of bike lanes done all over Metro Manila during the pandemic only work (somewhat) during low-traffic hours, but it’s a free-for-all during rush hour.
Similarly, motorcycle lanes have been implemented in some cities with varying success. Parañaque, for example, has one such lane along both sides of Sucat Avenue, but it’s useless. Even the most responsible rider will find it impossible to stay in the lane as four-wheelers consistently intrude—not to mention the never-ending roadworks that have turned Sucat into a slalom course.
For Commonwealth, one has to ask if only one exclusive lane will be enough to safely hold all the thousands of motorbike riders. It will only take one accident to jam up that lane and cause a domino effect. In addition, will this also include expressway-legal motorcycles (read: big bikes), or will they allow these larger bikes to use the four-wheeler lanes?
Finally, one big reason why exclusive lanes don’t work in our congested cities is because establishments line the roads for practically every square meter. There’s always one vehicle either entering or exiting an establishment, and this causes traffic behind it to either flow around or get jammed up.
In any case, I hope the MMDA anticipates all of these concerns, and figures out a way to make it all work out by the time the agency implements it.