MANILA - To solve Metro Manila's traffic problems, an engineering professor is proposing simpler tasks like providing a suitable environment for walking and cycling.

University of the Philippines (UP) Engineering Professor Jose Regin Regidor said the country definitely needs to build a mass transit system to ease congestion in the roads. Doing that, however, will take time, so the government must start with simpler solutions.

"We have to come up with the simple things first, maybe enhance the environment, enhance the conditions for people to be able to leave their cars," he said.

Regidor said that while some Filipinos stereotype cycling or walking as a poor man's mode of transport, the people's decision to travel using their cars is also affected by the state of transportation infrastructure in the country.

"Actually, it's also the way we built our infrastructure. There are few places, for example in Metro Manila, where you can walk safely, there are few places where you can cycle safely. And I think we have to look at how we designed those places and how we can redesign those places so that we can have more walking areas, more opportunities to cycle, rather than have the car as the first option for traveling," he said.

Citing transport systems in other countries, Regidor stressed that building infrastructure for walking and cycling provides the public with alternatives, stopping their dependency on cars and thus reducing congestion.

"There are many good practices, we can probably borrow from Tokyo, we can borrow from Bangkok, we can get from Jakarta and Singapore. I think it's important for us to be able to share these experiences and among those experiences is really not to rely much on automobile, not to rely much on the cars," he said.

"So what they have done in Bangkok... was to provide infrastructure for walking, infrastructure for cycling. And these assure them that, for the short trips at least, people won't be dependent on cars, they won't be dependent on taxis. People can walk freely, they can walk safely, they can cycle safely, so this reduces congestion in those places," Regidor added.

He also believes that authorities should also set an example by not relying too much on automobiles, just like the prime minister of Netherlands who cycles to work.

"I think we need more of those type of people [people from the authority] in our setting to show people that it can be done. And maybe their experiences would also help them provide for the infrastructure required for these types of modes of transport."