I don’t really need to go into detail about how bad traffic has gotten in Manila, do I? From the state of my Twitter and Facebook feed, everyone knows how awful it is. And that’s before it even rains. With just the briefest of downpours the metropolis’ main arteries become parking lots, with five-hour journeys home becoming maddeningly commonplace. With Christmas season fast approaching, the situation is going to become even worse. Really, it’s enough to make you never ever want to leave the house.
The large-scale, long-term solution to the problem (unfortunately) lies in the hands of our inept, short-sighted government. That doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t anything we can do to improve the situation. Will my suggestions below miraculously make EDSA free-flowing? Hell to the no. But maybe, if we all do our part, there could be the tiniest bit of improvement, if not in seemingly God-forsaken EDSA, then at least in the minor roads we spend so much of our time in. Because when the situation is as bad as it is, every little bit helps.
1 – Get on/off or drop off/pick up at authorized stops only
I get it. I really do. I commuted to work for five years, so I know how convenient it is to ask the bus/taxi/jeepney stop right in front of your office building, even if it means abruptly stopping traffic for dozens of cars behind you. It’s fine, it’s just one quick stop, everyone would be on the go in less then a minute, right? But multiply that stop by maybe ten thousand, and you’d get a better idea how much that stop-and-go contributes to traffic. It’s that lack of discipline and consideration from passengers that’s partly to blame for the bus segregation scheme on EDSA being ineffective. So do everyone a favor and wait for the bus at the bus stop, don’t stop the jeep in the middle of the road, and just walk the extra hundred meters. It’s good for you, it’s safer, it’s one less unauthorized stop the jeep/bus and the dozens of cars behind them have to make. If you’re the driver, say no to your passenger who is
stupidly asking to be let off at the corner of a busy intersection when the light is green. They can’t get out of the car if you don’t stop.
2 – Cross the street at pedestrian lanes only
Don’t you hate it when someone presses all the buttons on the elevator on your way to the topmost floor? Having to slow down to accommodate jaywalking pedestrians is the same thing with the added risk of bodily harm/death to spice things up. Sure, it’s so much easier to not walk the extra 200 meters to the pedestrian crossing and leave it to the 1.5 tonnes of metal to avoid hitting you and your milk tea. But if a car has to slow down/swerve to avoid you, then the car behind it has to do the same, and so on and so forth. Worst case scenario is that you set off a dangerous chain reaction of abrupt deceleration with your laziness. Best case scenario is that you caused a chain of cars to unnecessarily slow down.
3 – Don’t stand park at corners and narrow and/or busy streets
You are driving down EDSA on the rightmost lane, as you’re about to take a right to Shaw/Guadix/wherever. Then the asshat in front of you suddenly flashes his hazard lights and inexplicably stops. You wait, it out for maybe 15 seconds, but said asshat has no intention to budge despite your incessant honking because the MRT passenger he’s picking up from the station hasn’t shown up yet. You have no choice but to overtake him, disrupting the flow of traffic of the next lane, causing other cars to slow down ad infinitum, while the asshat waits and waits and waits like he was waiting at the quiet street of some gated village. Don’t do this on EDSA. Don’t do this on the tiny streets of Manila, or the backstreets of Makati at rush hour. Don’t do this. Don’t be a f*cking asshat.
4 – Stay the f*ck in line
I’m not talking about simple lane switching. I’m talking about the a**holes who ignore long lanes of cars waiting to exit a highway/turn a corner/enter a gate and cut to the front by counterflowing/creating their own lane. I’m talking about the a**holes who block entire lanes to the Shaw underpass or the Fort-Buendia flyover because they somehow think they deserve to get where they want to go faster than the hundreds of other drivers and passengers on the road. If you are one of these people (and you are not driving an ambulance), please for the love of all that is good and fair, stay the f*ck in line. You are not only being a nuisance to everyone else who dutifully did not wait until the concrete barrier to switch to the outer lane, but you are also making it harder for everyone else who wants to go straight ahead. Those people have to slow down and switch lanes to avoid you and your douchey-ness, making the cars on the next lane slow down as well, and so on and so forth. You think you’re being smart, flying past the goody-two-shoes, but what you are is a f*cking a**hole causing a bottleneck that will eventually stretch kilometers behind you.
5 – As much as it pains me to say this, give way to the f*ckers who don’t stay in line
Like I said, I would love nothing more than to not let any line-cutters through. I will admit to almost hitting the car in front of me because I didn’t want to give way to the car who chose to join our lane at the point of the concrete barrier. I also admit to taking my sweet, sweet time to inch forward just so the car behind me can follow closely and not let the singit through. But the truth of the matter is, the longer the they don’t merge with your lane, the longer they are blocking traffic for people behind them. So while it will give you sweet satisfaction to not let the jerk through, think about the times you just wished the the jerk in front of you was let through so that you could go your way down the Shaw underpass. Let him pass. Sure, you can flip him the bird, honk your horn until his ears bleed out, and curse him to oblivion, but let him pass.
6 – Educate your drivers
If you are fortunate enough to have someone drive you around, great. But as the employer of Manong Boy it is your responsibility to make sure that he drives responsibly, safely, and doesn’t cause a traffic jam while waiting for you (hazards on, of course) to buy your cronuts from Wildflour. He most likely wants to do a good job of getting you and your family where you want to go as quickly and conveniently as possible, but let him know that he shouldn’t counterflow down a busy street just because your daughter is late for her yoga class, or make an illegal u-turn because your son forgot his basketball shoes at home.
Like I said, these are teeny, tiny things that will probably be a drop in the despairing ocean that is Manila traffic. But until the government comes to its senses then we need to do what we can, no matter how little, and stop being lazy, undisciplined, selfish, entitled asshats on the road.