You’ve probably seen social-media rants against the newly installed traffic lights at the Tikling Junction in Taytay, Rizal. Motorists who regularly pass through the area swear that said traffic lights just made the situation even worse. The place has always been notorious for being heavily congested, but these days countless drivers insist it gets even more packed due to what they believe is the unnecessary use of automated traffic signals.
In an interview, Ruel Lacanieta, head of Taytay’s Traffic Management Group, explains that they put up the traffic lights after receiving numerous complaints about the incompetence of the traffic officers previously stationed at the roundabout. He also adds that the traffic lights are an experiment, and calls on the public to just follow the traffic rules.
To be fair to the municipality’s leadership, the use of traffic lights at roundabouts isn’t an entirely preposterous idea. While the common practice is to simply use the “yield” (or “give way”) sign, other countries employ traffic lights at roundabouts with unique challenges. The volume of cars and the width of the roads are among the main considerations in doing so.
The Tikling Junction is particularly challenging for two reasons: There are too many cars that traverse the route, and public-utility vehicles (tricycles and jeepneys) load and unload passengers wherever they please, especially near the roundabout.
But the chief problem, it seems, is driver behavior.
“There is really no discipline,” Ariel de Jesus, who used to pass through the area on his way to work, tells VISOR. “I would pass there at around 6am and traffic would be bad already. The presence of traffic cops would have been of great help, but I guess that was too early for them. By the time they got to their posts before 7am, things were already very chaotic.”
We want to believe that Taytay’s local government wants nothing more than to fix this problem. But we also want to ask if there was an expert study made before the installation of the traffic lights. The traffic management chief’s use of the word “experiment” bothers us. It tells us the whole thing is merely a trial-and-error gamble. You know, the kind of Hail Mary shot a basketball player heaves from the other end of the court with half a second remaining on the clock. If it works, great; if it doesn’t…well, sorry.
The thing is, the experiment is flushing hundreds of thousands of man-hours down the drain every single day—precious time that people will never get back. We hope the municipality’s managers will agree with us when we say that their constituents deserve more than an experiment. You owe the public real expertise, not lottery odds. That’s exactly what you’re in office for.