Ortigas Center in Pasig City might not be the ideal central business district (CBD) when it comes to walkability and accessibility for some people, but recent additions to their pedestrian infrastructure seems to up the ante. Of note is the construction of new footbridges around Ortigas Center. We try to see what is the experience of using these new infrastructure, especially for people on bikes.
The new Ortigas pedestrian footbridges
New overpasses have been put up recently around Ortigas. One is called “The Portal” — fronting Robinsons Galleria mall; another is the overpass fronting Meralco. And yet another crosses over to Metrowalk from Onyx Road. Finally, there’s the one traversing the spine of Ortigas Center along Julia Vargas Avenue.
I’m getting fond of these footbridges. Other than MMDA’s Bayani Fernando-era footbridges, these footbridges by Pasig City are the current ones that I find comparably useful. The steps aren’t as steep compared to other footbridges, and the exceptionally nice thing about them is that they’re bike-friendly! They have these bike ramps on the sides that allow people with bikes to cross busy roads like Ortigas and Meralco Avenues. Note that these ramps were mistaken for bike lanes when they first opened a couple of months back — they’re not!
However, there seems to be room for improvement as to how they create those ramps from a user experience point of view. Crossing Meralco Avenue with a bike would not actually be a big issue, as any biker could just take the service road and make a U-turn beneath the flyover. For the sake of checking the bike ramps, I intentionally crossed using the new footbridge and see how easy or hard it was when carrying a bike along.
Inconvenience getting up or down
Getting the bike on to the ramp was not as seamless as I hoped it would be. You cannot roll it directly onto the ramp coming from the ground level — you’d have to lift it and place both tires onto the ramp, and then start pushing up.
The same thing goes when reaching the top level of the footbridge — the ramp doesn’t go all the way to the walkway on the second level! So on an awkward angle while keeping your brake engaged on one tire, you lift your bike up and carry it on to the walkway.
You then repeat the above steps, in reverse, while crossing towards the other end of the footbridge. Lifting and maneuvering your bike might not be too difficult, but when you’re talking about bakal bikes, then this easily becomes a test of strength for other people. Chances are, those other people who would want to take their bikes across these overpasses might be relatively new to bike commuting, and would want to have a good experience with their bike2work. These tiny inconveniences might be considerably discouraging for them from proceeding beyond a bike commute experiment.
In any case, it’s laudable that the Pasig City government is taking the extra step of introducing these bike ramps both for the safety pedestrians and bikers alike. However, I hope they realize these points for improvement when it comes to their future mobility endeavors in the CBD, like the Ortigas Greenways Project. And also, talking about accessibility doesn’t just involve creating bike ramps — there should even be more room for persons with disabilities (PWDs), who undeniably outnumber bikers on any given day. 🙂