Dear Kuya B,*
When I first heard that QC was building a tunnel so that pedestrians could simply walk from QC Hall to the Quezon Memorial Park, what entered my mind was an underground passage for CARS as they turn from East Ave towards Kalayaan/Philcoa, that would effectively allow the park to extend its green area all the way to front steps of city hall.
Alas(kado), I was obviously dreaming.
But then I thought, if the idea is to accommodate the wishes of park users, couldn't we at least still allow them to cross above ground rather than below? The objective, I would have thought, is not just to allow for some convenience, but rather to actually create space -- open and CONTIGUOUS -- with the ultimate effect of even making pedestrians oblivious to traffic flowing below them. Couldn't we have had something like this instead? (See two attached photos.)
I'm sure the tunnel is already serving its purpose and that many residents are already benefiting from not having to play Frogger on the eight-lane elliptical road. But for future reference -- say, when we start considering linking the Quezon Memorial grounds to Parks and Wildlife (yes, I'm too old to call it Ninoy Aquino) and/or the Heart Center compound on the other sides of the circle -- wouldn't this be a better alternative? Here, for example, you can actually picture yourself biking across.
Wouldn't this have the better desired effect of expanding the one green oasis remaining in the city, rather than simply allowing us all the privilege of tunneling our way to what would still feel like a separate island?
Finally, wouldn't a pedestrian bridge be cheaper than a tunnel? I also imagine there's only so much landscaping you can do undergound, even assuming the tunnel ends up being well-lit, well-maintained, and clear of vendors/snatchers.
P.S. I took these pictures in Buenos Aires, and that's really what I wanted to tell you.
I'm all for your idea. Keeping pedestrians on the ground plane is actually safer as underground tunnels require security. They also cost more as far as maintenance goes (water extraction pumps, lighting, cleaning).
The choice of a tunnel to give pedestrians "safe" access to the circle betrays our elitist bias for the automobile and how behind we are as far as traffic management theory is concerned.
We're learning more and more that the key to efficient roads and road use is to slow down traffic, not speed it up. In fact, lowering the road speed to 30 km/h smooths out traffic and increases road carrying capacity:
Evidence from countries and cities that have introduced a design speed of 30 kilometers per hour (about 18.5 mph) -- as many of the European Union nations are doing -- shows that slower speeds improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
"This surprises many people, although mathematically it's not surprising," Hamilton-Baillie says. "The reason for this is that your speed of journey, the ability of traffic to move smoothly through the built environment, depends on performance of your intersections, not on your speed of flow between intersections." And intersections, he says, work much more efficiently at lower speeds. "At 30 miles per hour, you frequently need control systems like traffic signals, which themselves mean that the intersection is not in use for significant periods of time. Whereas at slower speeds vehicles can move much more closely together and drivers can use eye contact to engage and make decisions. So you get much higher capacity."
Check out this presentation on road diets and urban livability from Parsons-Brinckerhoff (via StreetsBlog).
Your idea of connecting all of QC's parks via a green infrastructure is spot on. And many cities have discovered the power of pedestrian networks in reviving commerce, improving city navigability, enhancing civic pride and creating livable urban environments.
Since, between the two of us, you are the professional journalist/ columnist/ opinion leader, you probably have a better grasp of how we can get these ideas onto the radar of our mayors and our national government.
*btw, I only Roby A.'s sweet wife (Joy F.) call me "kuya" -since she was one of my youth campers back in the day.
Buenos Aires by Roby Alampay