amiel alcantara’s death: no changes at AGS parking lot – a new accident waiting to happen?
“No changes at the AGS parking lot,
the danger remains.”
that sentence has bothered me a lot. i read it last night, i sensed something was wrong there. my intuition was kicking in so badly. i could not put my finger into exactly what was wrong there. but i knew i was worried for the young boys who study at the AGS.
i could not sleep last night thinking about it, so i re-read many parts of this blog, specially the comments from parents. that did not satisfy me, so at close to midmight, i called up friends of mine who are maried to architects.
talking to them cleared my mind. my intuition was correct, many things are wrong about that sentence.
first, looking at the comments of parents in this blog. parents want change in the traffic system at the AGS, not any kind of change, they want significant changes. in fact the word “radical” was used quite often by many. many of the parents feel the weaknesses of the current system plus the apathy of the school administration and security guards on safety for children had a significant contribution to the death of amiel at the parking lot.
of course many other things contributed to it – one is perhaps the inexperience of the ateneo mom driver and even the current practice of pedestrians having to cross that area where amiel died, but the current system and traffic design contributed to it by allowing the accident to happen.
from my talks with the architects this is the sense i get.
- architects can and should incorporate “safety” into a design
- the same way as architects can incorporate speed and traffic flow into a design
- the core essence of an architect’s job is to look into space and design and erect structures on it that delivers specific objectives. one could be to erect a structure for a home, or a mall or a parking lot. the designs an architect does includes intangibles like cost, aesthetics, ease of use and even safety, to name a few.
- physical structures that architects design and erect on space affects behavior and the movement of people who use that space.
- in fact structures erected on space affects the behavior and directs movement of people who use that space. they also deliver specific values.
- for example: walls and a door on space contains people into that space. ceilings on space gives comfort and protection from the elements to people under it. hallways direct flow of people from point a to b and prevents them from getting lost to point d or prevents them from falling off a window.
the above tells you that to improve safety at the AGS parking lot, to prevent another death, we need architects to re-design that open space, to erect structures that will direct movement of vehicles and pedestrians and to alter or influence the behavior of pedestrians.
that parking lot at the AGS where amiel died as it stands now is still open space. it looks exactly like the way it was when amiel died in that parking lot. looking exactly the way it is when amiel died can only mean one thing – the same risks and dangers, the same reason that caused amiel’s death continue to exist in that parking lot.
how can there be improvements on safety, how can it prevent another death to occur in that parking lot when it looks exactly like when amiel died?
the death of amiel told us a very valuablee lesson – safety, specially traffic safety CANNOT rely solely on the good behavior and goodwill of pedestrians and drivers to follow traffic and safety rules nor just the actions of traffic enforcers.
i do not think the ateneo mom driver and pedestrian amiel intended for the accident to happen. to both of them at that moment of the accident, this something called “accident” rendered useless the good behavior and goodwill that they had in following traffic and safety rules.
not even the zealous efforts of a traffic enforcer could have prevented amiel’s death. i do not think the presence of a traffic enforcer at the scene of amiel’s death could have prevented it. in fact, if a traffic enforcer was there at the scene of the accident, that traffic enforcer could have died as amiel did or sustain the same injury that amiel’s yaya sustained.
the point is – traffic and safety education is fine. but i do not think that is enough.
a parking lot is space. people and cars behave and move within that space, to ensure safety, it is not enough that we educate pedestrians on safety or make traffic violations more stern – what it needs is structures that ensure safety.
why then is the ateneo not erecting structures or altering that open space where amiel died? keeping that open space as is, means exactly the same dangers that led to the death of amiel continue to exist and may be waiting for the next victim.