A councilor in Quezon City has proposed a no backriders law. See forum thread. And the protest rally thread here. A councilor in Marikina wants to ban full face helmets. See forum thread. A senator wants a law to force riders to paint their plate number on their helmets. See forum thread.
Where will this lunacy end? We already have bikes forced off tollways onto far more dangerous roads because 35 years ago a presidential escort was killed in an accident after he was ordered not to wear a helmet. If you want to laugh (or maybe cry for the Philippines) see the legal reasoning here.
We have riders buying bikes and cannot use them for months while they wait for plates to be issued. See forum thread. And we have underpasses and roads prohibited to motorcycles for no logical reason.
While most developed countries are actively encouraging motorcycle use to reduce congestion, reduce polution, free up parking spaces, reduce gasolene consumption and travel costs, etc. The Philippines has for years done exactly the opposite. Cars are encouraged while anti-motorcycle discrimination abounds. Dangerous smoke belching wrecks are used for public transport while law enforcers stand around watching them blatently breaking the law.
Buses in the Philippines average over 170 times more accidents per vehicle per year than motorcycles but many government officials see only the Hollywood movie bad guys and the occasional lunatic messenger zipping through the traffic. The 99% or more of riders who have been proved by all the statistics and records to be by far the safest drivers in the Philippines are ignored, or worse, discriminated against at every opportunity. See this page for statistics and much more information on accident and safety records.
Over thirty years ago, motorcycle police officers escorting visiting U.S. dignitary Richard M. Nixon were ordered to replace their safety helmets with traditional Filipino hats. Unfortunately, one of them was killed in an accident along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) In a knee-jerk reaction to this unfortunate but preventable incident, the Department of Public Works and Communications ordered an immediate ban of motorcycles from the tollways.
The motorcycle community, led by the Freedom Riders MC filed legal action on the grounds that the ban is illegal and on 16 July 2001 a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, was issued by the Makati Regional Trial Court, Branch 147 ruling that motorcyclists have the legal right as licensed motorists to use the tollways. The Judge said that respondents DPWH and TRB have no power or authority to ban motorcycles on expressways and â€œtherefore, the ban in the expressways on motorcycles is void and illegalâ€. The judge also cited the predicament of the motorcyclist-petitioners who are forced to use the more dangerous side roads in their travels as a result of the motorcycle ban.
Two days later the DPWH hastily issued Department Order #123 under advice of PNCC Chairman Luis Sison. DO 123 bans all motorcycles of less than 400cc (about 99% of motorcycles) from the tollways. Contempt of court charges are still pending. When asked why he proposed such a limit the Chairman said that because anyone who cannot afford to ride a bike of over 400cc is poor and uneducated. We didn’t say the obvious that every bus driver, jeepney driver, taxi driver, truck driver and half the car drivers on the road cannot afford a big bike either so why are they not banned? When asked why the PNCC use 125 – 175cc bikes to patrol the tollways he said “because we can’t afford bigger bikes. No comment!
The writ stood for two years until a replacement judge on friendly terms with the DPWH’s lawyer reversed all previous court decisions. The case is now with the supreme court while nearly one million riders araound the world are boycotting tourism to the Philippines until the life threatening ban is lifted. See the Bantay Turista article here. During the two years that all bikes were allowed access to the tollways there were two accidents involving motorcycles on tollways. Both were big bikes and both accidents were caused by trucks. During the same period many people were killed in bus and truck accidents. As far as we know there has not been one single reported incident involving a small bike. The full story, statistics, reports and links to related pages, etc are here.
We all know that the best way to beat the traffic is to use a motorcycle and crooks know this as well as we do. Recently, there has been an increase in the use of motorcycles by crooks to get away from the scene of a crime. The obvious thing to do for most of us is to find out why the law enforcers seem so helpless and try to help them enforce the law. But obviously some of our elected officials don’t think the same way we do.
The first councilor to step up and make himself famous (infamous) was from Marikina. He observed that many crooks use full face helmets to disguise themselves so his proposal is that full face helmets should be banned putting thousands of riders in danger while the crooks simply use a bandana and sunglasses instead.
Next up on the stage is a councilor from Quezon City who decided that because bikes are used as getaway vehicles all backriders (pillion riders) must be banned. Obviously the crooks will simply arrive at the scene separately, commit the crime, jump on the bike and escape as usual. Does he believe that someone who has just committed a serious crime is going to be afraid to break the no backriding law? Meanwhile thousands of people who have saved for years and invested in a motorcycle to reduce travel expenses and share it to get to work will now have to pay for the bike but also have to pay to use the dangerous public transport that probably kills far more people every year than motorcycle riding crooks.
The latest and possibly the greatest is our Senator Dick Gordon, previously Secretary for Tourism.
I quote from the forums:
Baguio City – In the wake of reports that most assassins use motorcycles and are never caught, Sen. Richard Gordon said he had filed a bill seeking to ban motorcycles that lack identification from the streets. In a press forum here on Friday, Gordon said the bill also seeks to require motorcycle drivers to wear helmets that bear the vehicle’s plate number and driver’s name. “Nobody can ride a motorcycle without a written plate number and name on the helmet. So if there is a driver who is running his motorcycle without his helmet, we can stop him and ask ‘Do you have a gun?’ if he does not meet the requirements, then he has a violation,” he said.
Do I need to comment on this? Maybe mention that helmets cost between 2,000 and 30,000 pesos each. That paint will damage them. That many riders have more than one bike so they need to buy more helmets, etc.
How about we just follow this logic a little further. Lets make it law that every car driver must wear a hat with his licence plate number painted on the sides because maybe he stole the car to commit a crime. Then if he is not wearing the right hat we can stop him and ask “Do you have a gun?”
I have to finish here because I can’t stop laughing.
All together now… Only in the Philippines.
OK serious now. Since the formation of the Motorcycle Philippines Federation there is now a central point for anyone who needs advice on motorcycles, motorcycling and motorclists so maybe more politicians will talk to us before suggesting their schemes. We have all the top people so they just have to ask.
The fact that the Motorcycle Philippines Federation has been formally requested by the Office of the President to prepare a policy paper for motorcycle use incentives is a huge step in the right direction but while we work on that we have to try to “educate” these anti-motorcycle politicians. Motorcycles are now over 37% of the vehicles on the road. That’s a lot of votes and a lot of influence if we work together.
Can we reverse the trend and follow advanced countries that encourage motorcycles? I think maybe we can – with your help.