KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato – Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) XII held a webinar on making the streets a safe and vibrant environment for all on November 26, 2020. A street is a basic unit of urban space that allows people to experience and feel the beauty of a place. It provides opportunities for children to become independent and allows people to earn and spend their money.

The webinar was participated by the Committee members, Bachelor of Science (BS) on Environmental Planning students of the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University (NDDU), members of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP)-SOCCSKSARGEN Chapter, Eastern Organization for Development Planning and Housing, as well as the City and Provincial Planning and Development Offices of General Santos, Cotabato, and South Cotabato.

Architect Michael T. Ang, EnP, RLUC XII Private Sector Representative on Urban and Regional Planning, program head of BS Architecture at the NDDU, and an active member of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the PIEP served as the resource person. He shared his learnings from the training on Child-responsive Approach to Urban Planning facilitated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2019.  He also integrated his experiences as a consultant on architectural design, environmental, urban, and regional planning in his lecture.

Architect Ang emphasized that the current streets in the country are designed for cars and are becoming hazardous for the people.  The obstructions in the pedestrian pathways such as uncleared construction debris, obstructive landscapes, uneven path walks, and improperly designed ramps pose hazards to people.

He pointed out that in some cities, sidewalks are utilized as parking spaces for vehicles since there are establishments with no designated parking areas for their clients. The situation results in pedestrians being forced to encroach in the carriageway of streets/roads.

“The obstructive facilities owned by the utility companies such as water meter, electric poles, and establishment signage also contribute to the unsafe pedestrian path walks in the country,” he said.

He highlighted that among the new approaches to street designs is to consider the street as the place for people, making the children a priority in the design of the streets and not the cars.

He also encouraged the local planners to make the streets a safe place for everyone because it would bring vibrant life to the local communities. “Pedestrians should be at the heart of the street designs”, he further emphasized.

He recommended that concerned government agencies and local government units improve the Philippine sidewalks by making this space of the street reach the global standard especially in moving towards the new better normal.  Sidewalks should have a minimum width of 1.8 meters to properly observe physical distancing among pedestrians.

He also mentioned that for crosswalks to be properly designed, they must be connected to the sidewalks. Also, the construction of refuge islands and medians should be considered in streets with heavy traffic.

The participants were inspired by the sharing of Architect Ang and in unison, they agreed to be advocates of creating/transforming the city to a child-friendly urban area and become one of the safe street superheroes.

The objective of the webinar was to advocate the integration of a new planning paradigm for the Regional Planners that would contribute to the realization of the AmBisyon Natin 2040 of having a Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay.  Also, child-friendly urban design is geared towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No. 3: Good Health and Well-being and SDGs No. 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.  These new approaches and strategies to street designs shall be integrated into the updating of the SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Development Plans, Spatial Development Frameworks, and Comprehensive Development and Land Use Plans. The RLUC is responsible for land use and physical planning and provides policy directions in the performance of its functions. It is also an affiliate committee of Regional Development Council (RDC) XII.  (GGBCollado, NEDA XII-PFPD)