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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, February 24, 2016
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Come to think of it
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia
OPINIONS

Marked

come

Last week I was ranting about how the ignorance of Filipino motorists when it comes to road markings have caused deadly accidents such as the one depicted in the dashcam video of a recklessly driven AUV plowing into a motorcycle, after ignoring the double yellow line and overtaking along a blind corner of a bridge. I was just getting started on the other factors beside the drivers that make those road markings and traffic signs useless when I realized I was running out of space so that rant was cut short.

Let's continue.

Another reason why those markings and “suggestions” have become useless is that the competency of the people putting them on our roads can be questionable at times. I don't know what combination of local and/or national government agencies are involved but the plethora of pedestrian crossings along Bacolod City's main streets have been busy providing me with almost 50 reasons to wonder if the people who put them there know what they are doing.

Anybody who knows anything about pedestrian crossings will immediately take note of how unwieldy and ill-thought of those road markings along the length of Lacson and Araneta streets are. Almost every street corner doesn't only have one; it also seems that every “big” shopping or dining establishment gets their own pedestrian lane. The irony is that there are so many pedestrian crossings along those major streets that neither motorist nor pedestrian respects those markings. Drivers do not bother giving priority to pedestrians at the designated crossings because the overwhelming number of crossings doesn't make any sense at all and despite that crazy number of pedestrian lanes, the hard-headed and ignorant pedestrians cross anywhere they like anyway.

The pedestrian lane overload and continued jaywalking situation gives us a quick and dirty idea of just how bad the situation is. The simple traffic violations of jaywalking, not giving way to pedestrians at a crossing, and stopped vehicles on pedestrian lanes are being committed by drivers and pedestrians day in and day out, but all the traffic authority wants to do is to make its enforcers either do the cha-cha or try to enforce a blanket no parking rule that anybody can circumvent by turning on the magical hazard lights.

On the flip side of the silly pedestrian crossings of Bacolod City are the rare instances of well executed road markings in certain mountainous roads in this island.

I remember a time when the road markings of the winding mountain roads along the coastal highway of Cauayan were pretty well executed. The road markings not only gave drivers who knew how to comprehend the meanings of the various types of lines along the road fair warnings of when it would be safe to overtake or not. It was so well done that start of solid yellow lines on the approach to a curve would even suggest the braking point for a normal vehicle to enter a sharp curve safely. I don't know who the legends that painted those markings on are, but the new lane markings that replaced those well executed ones after they either wore off or the road had to be repaired, haven't been as helpful as they used to be. The original markings were probably painted on under the supervision of properly trained highway engineers, while the new markings were done by the same amateurs who riddle Bacolod's streets with an overdose of pedestrian crossings.

Drivers don't know what road and lane markings mean because aside from the indifference of the government agency that granted them their driver's license, the utter lack of enforcement by an invisible highway patrol and a clueless local government, there is also no consistency. Broken lines, solid lines, yellow lines, white lines, zigzag lines or pedestrian lanes are nothing more than road bling or aesthetics for the motorists, the pedestrians, and the minimum wage laborer with the paintbrush that was tasked to paint the road.

Maybe the people who are supposed to manage the drivers, the traffic and the roads of our communities consider their jobs done as long as vehicles don't hit each other, nobody dies, and the traffic doesn't get too bad.*

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