A pleasant experience with a government official

 By Gus Lagman

AAP President

I thought that today, I’d write about something that we seldom experience with our government officials. And what is this? – that our suggestion is not only responded to, but actually acted upon!

Last December 2017, I wrote a letter to our Barangay Chairman suggesting that the two sets of rumble strips recently installed on an inside street in our barangay be removed. I gave several reasons why. (I have been advocating against this supposed “calming device” for some years now.)

  1. Rumble strips are not only annoying to the car owners, they are also bad for the motor vehicles. They have the same effect, if not worse, as ruts on streets and roads.   We fix ruts, rather than create them.
  1. The set of rumble strips we have on that street is even worse, because the strips are so thick, so badly designed and/or constructed are they.
  1. Perhaps the reason for installing them was to slow down vehicles, especially since during school days, many students walk along that street. I further explained that if that’s what we wanted, then this was not the solution. The standard solutions are either speed bumps (humps), or speed tables (similar to humps, but wider and flat on top). Another solution, employed all over the world, is the installation (and enforcement) of proper road signs regarding the speed limit. Rumble strips, after all, are not necessarily “calming devices”. In fact, many drivers speed up over a rumble strip to minimize feeling its car-shaking effect. Installing rumble strips has no redeeming value and is therefore a waste of money.
  1. It is sad that many communities have the mistaken notion that installing rumble strips across streets makes those streets safer; they do not. Speed humps, if constructed and marked properly, are far better in making our streets safer.
  1. What’s even sadder is that those who install them on some of our highways do not seem to understand what make roads safe and what make them dangerous. I have seen rumble strips on road bends – clearly hazardous things as car tires can lose traction while negotiating the bends.
  1. The real purpose of rumble strips, when a few of them first appeared in Europe, was to awaken and alert drivers who might be dozing off on very long stretches of roads -- usually 50-100 kilometers. I say, “few of them”, because during a 2016 road trip, I drove 1,031 kilometers of European roads, traversing some five countries, and did not see a single rumble strip.
  1. Much later, road builders found another use for rumble strips that works. They built a narrow version of them along the edges of some country roads in order to warn drivers that their vehicles are veering off to the shoulder. Again, these rumble strips alongside the road are meant to alert drivers who are starting to doze off.

While I kept hoping that our Barangay Chairman would at least call me to discuss my suggestion, I didn’t really expect much because government officials often just ignore suggestions or recommendations from citizens.

But lo and behold! When I passed that street a few weeks ago, I noticed that the two sets of rumble strips were gone. I was truly pleasantly surprised. And I promised myself that as quickly as I complain when our government officials do wrong things, just as quickly I would praise them when they do the right things.

Our Chairman in Barangay Poblacion, Makati City, is Benhur Cruz. I bumped into him a few days ago and thanked him for his quick action. I wish there were more government officials like Benhur Cruz.

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