Conversion of Streets into Pedestrian-Friendly, Open Spaces Pushed

Converting a few streets into pedestrian-friendly, open spaces can help improve people’s well-being amid the pandemic, according to urban planner and advocate of sustainable mobility Robert Siy, as reported by Inquirer

The well-ventilated areas will serve as safe spaces for active transport, play, and exercise, the transport expert said.

Siy, who is part of the #MoveAsOne coalition, a group advocating for “safer, more humane, and more inclusive public transportation” in the country, noted that adding greenery can form part of the design of pedestrianized streets.

He said that this concept isn’t new, given that many other countries have these outdoor spaces, going carless and providing a usable area for the community, especially the children. Siy also added that this move can be beneficial for business establishments. Restaurants, for one, can use the space on the street to offer alfresco dining services to customers.

Demand for Pedestrian-Friendly Areas

The survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations in November showed that the majority of Filipinos want pedestrians, as well as bicycles and public transportation, prioritized over private vehicles. Moreover, 85 percent of the surveyed believed that their city or town can “become a great place for walking and cycling.”

The Department of Transportation recently announced that they have already completed 55 percent of the targeted 535-kilometer bike lane network in the country, Rappler reported. According to Secretary Arthur Tugade, 296 kilometers of bike lanes already have pavement markings, with some having bollards or curbs.

The bike lane network target covers Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

Preference for Open Spaces in Real Estate

Open spaces have earned newfound popularity among the public since the pandemic hit. In the real estate industry, these amenities are among the most-searched features of property seekers. 

In Lamudi’s trend report tackling buyer preferences in the first half of 2020, the experts saw significant interest in outdoor spaces. In particular, the open-air leisure amenities that earned the most number of searches were balconies, gardens, and fully-fenced areas. 

Taking into consideration the entire year of 2020, the more recent trend report showed that open areas were the top sought-after amenities. Balconies and gardens represented 11 percent of all pageviews. In January 2021, they accounted for 11 percent of all amenity leads. The other popular property facilities are leisure-oriented, which includes swimming pools, topping the list of most-searched amenities in 2020.

These trends and insights point to the strong demand for outdoor spaces in the real estate industry.

The observable preference for provincial locations is, in part, driven by the interest in open areas. Residential areas outside Metro Manila notably have vast lands to accommodate parks and similar recreational spaces. 

In The Outlook on the Residential Market 1Q2021, Antipolo came out as the top choice for property seekers looking for houses outside the capital region in the first quarter of 2021. The city’s green spaces attract seekers who want to embrace a relaxed lifestyle without moving too far from loved ones living in Metro Manila.

Pandemic Preferences Supported by Modern Developments

Several residential developments can support the experts’ call for more pedestrian-friendly streets and the greater public’s demand for open spaces. The first and biggest online housing fair in the country features these projects.

The mid-rise condominium Sorrento Oasis, for one, dedicates 60 percent of its land to open spaces, leisure facilities, and verdant greens. This community from Aspire by Filinvest has a car-free amenity called Piazza de Sorrento, which allows residents to go safely to and from Phases 1 and 2 of the condo village. It promotes free play among children and social interaction between residents. The residential development is located in Pasig.

Provincial areas also host developments that feature open spaces. The Villages at Lipa, a sprawling house and lot development, features abundant greenery, including pocket parks and T-gardens. Constructed by AboitizLand, the residential enclave is located in Lima Estate, the mixed-use development dubbed as The Next Big Thing in the South.

The online housing fair also features communities that support active transport. The Sapphire Bloc, a stunning, high-end condominium located at the heart of Ortigas Center, promotes the “walkable lifestyle.” Bounded by Onyx, Sapphire, and Garnet Streets, it’s surrounded by essential establishments, from malls and restaurants to hospitals and schools. Residents can easily walk to their destinations with ease.

Sources: Inquirer, Rappler

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