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Consultants bare findings of bid to pedestrianize downtown Cebu City

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Representatives from the Planning and Development Research Foundation, Inc. (PLANADES) presented before NEDA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie Edillon and NEDA Regional Office (NRO) 7 staff their draft findings of the Economic Impact of Pedestrianization of an Urban Space in Metro Cebu study being initiated by NRO 7.

NRO 7 is proposing to introduce pedestrianization as a method to revitalize economic activity in downtown Cebu City. The study conducted by PLANADES will determine the probable economic impact of pedestrianization on stakeholders in the study area and identify other interventions that could enhance it.

Usec. Edillon said this study is one of those that NEDA is closely monitoring, saying that it also serves as an attempt to learn more about the vital role of spatial planning in development.

She also said that the project could be replicated in areas that have high historical or heritage value to complement conservation and tourism efforts.

Findings

Dr. Crispin Emmanuel Diaz and Ar. Konstantine Koh of PLANADES presented the scope of the study and the processes involved, and enumerated the different forms of pedestrianization—full, part-time, partial and mixed-priority—that could be implemented in the study area and the factors that could affect its success. They also cited examples of how pedestrianization has worked in other countries, and presented the case of the pedestrianization of Avenida in Manila in the 2000s.

The PLANADES team, who was joined by staff from Research & Development Program Management Office, also presented the following findings:

  • How land in the study area is being used
  • Occupancy of buildings
  • Types of sidewalk and obstructions found,
  • Flood mitigation methods, and
  • Estimated impact on businesses once pedestrian environment is improved.

For the study, PLANADES interviewed a total of 2011 respondents who were asked about what improvements they think should be introduced in the study area. These are security and safety, physical improvements, urban environment, among others.

Suggestions

The study team stressed that to make the study area more pedestrian-centric, certain interventions have to be introduced in the study area. These include coming up with a public transport plan and addressing concerns on security, improving the urban environment, and promoting walkability.

Considering the location of the study area, Usec. Edillon suggested having flood control measures in place and curating the area to maximize the benefits of pedestrianization, bearing in mind the key objectives of the proposal.

After the presentation, PLANADES will analyze pedestrian counts and their distribution vis-a-vis business establishments in the study area, determine the procedure in estimating the increase of foot traffic, and conduct further review of capture/conversion rates from foot traffic into purchases.