An Englishman In Isabela Blog #76 – Driving in Santiago City

Friday, January 08, 2010

Here are a few pictures taken when we were driving through the centre of Santiago City yesterday.

As you can see, most of the traffic in Santiago City is the tricycle. It’s a taxi service used by the majority of its citizens, even by us when the car is an inconvenience to park in certain places. Tricycle drivers usually give way to cars, will move their vehicles if they are blocking a car park space, and the drivers even assist us when we back out into the busy main road. The tricycle charge from our house into the city is just 20 pesos (25p) for the three of us. Most families seem to own at least one tricycle which is used for transporting the family and, if licensed for the purpose, to supplement income with farepaying passengers. Tricycles can carry 2 passengers in the sidecar and at least one on the pinion behind the driver. However, on school runs we have witnessed them carrying anything up to 10 children, several behind the driver, several inside, several on top and some standing up on the luggage rack at the back.
The motocycle is the other major form of family transport. In Santiago City they are used to carry up to four people including the driver. If there are children they may even manage 5. How they keep upright I will never know as the bike must be very difficult to handle. Helmets are rarely worn, riders preferring to don baseball caps instead, such is the value placed on human life. The law requires the wearing of helmets but, reference other expat blogs I have read, it does not appear to be enforced by the LTO except in the case of foreigners. An on-the-spot fine is normally applied for violations.
It is unusual to see large trucks in the city except at night as there are rules governing their access, however, this does not seem to be tightly enforced. During the day time you often see lines of trucks parked by the roadside outside the city. As trucks are normally restricted to nightime movement, any journey overnight to Manila by us often encounters large numbers of trucks making a similar journey. Over the mountains one learns safe ways to overtake slow-moving trucks.