When it comes to urban planning, the Philippines has a spotty record. While many of its cities were beautifully master-planned generations ago, they have been affected by perennial urban issues such as congestion and traffic, little or no access to mass transit, few open or public and many blighted and derelict neighborhoods.
Despite these problems, there are still some areas with beautifully planned cities. Whether by design or accident, these areas that have become "livable" are thriving, booming and driving growth.
What are livable cities?
As the name suggests, these are cities where people would like to live in because they are convenient and comfortable.
According to Livable Cities Philippines, "Cities are the primary movers of economic growth and innovation. They are hubs of consumption, resource use and waste.
They are also generators of wealth, production and development. However, in this increasingly urban world, today's cities are facing new challenges. They have become the center of society's most pressing economic, social and environmental issues.
They face issues on disaster preparedness, trafﬁc congestion, lack of mobility and logistics options, delivery of public goods and services, and low global competitiveness."
What makes a city livable or be classified as one?
These can be characterized as interconnected ("I can go there easily"), pedestrian-friendly ("I can walk safely and comfortably"), open spaces ("I can go somewhere to relax"), complete mix of uses ("There are a lot of interesting places. I can walk to things I need") and sustainability ("My neighbors take care of the environment").
There should be more public transportation on the road as not everyone can own a car.
These commuter systems must also be safe and efficient. People are encouraged to walk or bike and as such, dedicated lanes must be assigned for them. More open spaces like parks are encouraged to allow for greenery and a place where people can detoxify. Mixed-use spaces that help save space and have everything people need.
Finally, environment-friendly where people practice proper sanitation and respect the environment.
How to get there?
While there are communities that are livable, the challenge now is for existing cities with the above-mentioned problems. Is there hope for these cities?
Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and Makati City are successful examples of livable cities. It is important to have a master plan from the beginning to be able to incorporate all the above-mentioned characteristics.
Whereas BGC was built from the ground up, it was a different case with Makati City since it is already in existence. It has become all about improving something that is there.
For other cities, there is the need for "tactical urbanism" leading to full development. It is a "one-at-a-time" rather than a whole approach system, it is planning by doing and allows flexibility in planning — making adjustments if the original plan does not work.
The first step is to identify what likes to call "pain points" in the community. Some examples of pain points are organized jeepney/bus stops, safe way to cross streets, unsightly places and lack of public spaces to name a few.
When these pain points are identified, appropriate solutions should be made and carried out. In the case of jeepney/bus stops, there must be designated areas with the appropriate signage. There should be designated pedestrian crossings. For unattractive places, artists have been recruited to paint to make places appealing.
The bottom line in creating livable cities is that there is a need to have a "city that works," it has to be designed for people and for it to have a soul. It also underscores that there is hope for existing cities by improving the master plan — identifying the problems and coming up with the right solutions.
Source: Manilla Times