This city is ruled by one king and one king only: the car. We may see attempts to change that and introduce more progressive and sustainable transport and mobility policies, but we seemingly still have a long way to go from just paying lip service to really changing the minds and attitudes of drivers and those in charge of this place.
All you have to do to come to this conclusion is look at the streets of Makati. Or let someone else have a look at them for you, like a Twitter user who likes to cycle and makes a point of documenting all the illegal parking in Makati that is seemingly going unpunished every week—while cyclists are being targeted and even have their bikes forcibly removed if they dare not to park on the (way too few) bike racks.
The Makati Weekend Parking Shaming Thread by Twitter user @duckses currently has 45,000 views and over 500 likes (and growing).
In it, she simply documents the many occurrences where private cars park in unacceptable ways, such as on pedestrian crossings or while blocking wheelchair access ramps. And the often disappointing lack of action taken by guards and enforcers when they are made aware of these infractions.
She even goes a step further and sometimes highlights how enforcers are seemingly hassling cyclists while leaving many erring car drivers in peace. Like so often in the Philippines, media exposure is the best way to highlight issues that require rectification, and this is certainly one of them.
In fact, Twitter in general is a bit of a hotbed for mobility activism right now. There are people pointing out how pedestrian-unfriendly specific places like SM Mall of Asia are, how Manila is already a cycling city but needs to be made safer, and how a shocking number of children die on our roads every day.
It seems a new and growing generation of citizens is no longer willing to accept the status quo, and is calling ever more loudly for things to change. And it’s not like the private sector and the powers-that-be aren’t listening.
Recently, a group of Metro Manila mayors went to Amsterdam to learn about cycling infrastructure and culture, local malls started to support cyclists, and DepEd and DOTr even celebrated World Car-Free Day by promoting cycling.
Many moves in the right direction are already happening, but the biggest shift that is required cannot take place on the roads of the metro or in the offices of mayors. It has to happen in our heads.
As long as drivers are still nonchalantly blocking pedestrian crossings and wheelchair ramps without a care in the world or any consideration for their fellow citizens—and as long as cyclists and pedestrians are still seen as second-class road users by many enforcers and other people on the road—we’re still not quite where we can and should be.
These cultural changes take time, but they also require constant pressure to slowly change minds and make certain behavior socially unacceptable. If a Twitter thread is what it takes to help with this, then more power to folks who call out these things one tweet at a time.