Davao City environmental group pushes ‘car-free day’ ordinance

A Davao City-based environmental group is pushing for the passage of a “car-free day” that will require motorists not to use their diesel-powered vehicles once a week on certain streets in this city.

In an interview at the sidelines of Kapehan sa Davao on Monday, Lemuel Manalo, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) program coordinator, said that they are planning to lobby the proposed measure with the local council, particularly through Councilor Luna Acosta of the first district.

He said that if this is passed into law, it will require the temporary closure of main avenues for certain hours, either on Saturdays or Sundays, to give way for pedestrians or individuals doing recreational activities like jogging, bicycling, or pet walking.

He said that some streets of Davao that could be included in the implementation of the activity are the entire stretch of Roxas Avenue or the San Pedro Street.

“The ‘car-free day’ is an activity which intends to celebrate being car-free even just for one day,” he said.

Manalo said areas in the Philippines that are observing the “car-free day” include the Ayala Avenue in Makati City and the cities of Antipolo and Muntinlupa.

Abroad, he said Jakarta in Indonesia is famous for its longest “car-free avenue for recreational activities” on Sundays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

“We don’t have this yet in Davao City but we need to push for it. There are different cities that have been managing and implementing it already either private or local government,” he said.

He said this activity can also potentially boost the local economy since vendors can open their pop-up stores during the period of road closures.

He said that this same proposal was lobbied before the pandemic through former Councilor Maria Belen Sunga-Acosta, but it did not push through due to the “complex routes” and the difficulty of harmonizing them with the bus stops and routes of the Davao City Transport Modernization Project or the High Priority Bus System.

He said that they will try to simplify the routes for the “car-free day” to make it feasible this time.

“We need to improve this. First, we need to change the routes and come up with a more manageable design… The ordinance will also require the barangays to replicate temporary closures (of roads) for walking,” Manalo said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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