One of Mayor Lito Atienza’s Flagship programs for the revitalization of the old downtown Manila is to close a strip of Avenida Rizal (I believe from Plaza Lacson to Recto) to vehicular traffic and opening it exclusively for pedestrians for the improvement of business and quality of life in the area. Quite obvious, also aimed to bring back the glory days of Rizal Avenue as the downtown. Obviously, it failed (and I think during those times, it was doomed). Here are some probable reasons:
- Rizal Avenue is a vital road link. It is part of the Radial Road 9, connecting Metro Manila to McArthur Highway (AH26). It also connects to South Manila via P. Burgos and Taft Avenue. Closing that part created horrible road mess in Espana, Recto and the Del Pan area.
- LRT is still an elevated line. You couldn’t enjoy architecture and street appreciation with that blocking the view.
- The gentrification of that area failed, as ambulant vendors had their field day on the streets.
The next street pedestrianization schemes should take into account the failure of this project, not all streets could be pedestrianized conveniently. The pedestrianization of Rizal Avenue seems to be a good Idea, but as long as there are increasing number of vehicles entering the old downtown, it is very doomed.