Nonsensical rules on bike ‘barriers,’ pillion riding
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2020 - 12:00am

With the lifting of strict lockdowns in many metros and cities in the country, motorcycles for personal mobility have again been allowed on the streets. Recently, pillion riding has been given the green light, so long as both riders have proof that they are married or live together.

Unfortunately, the wise guys at the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) want a barrier installed between the driver and passenger riding a motorcycle to prevent them from touching each other, and in observance of social distancing rules under the new normal pandemic conditions.

As Sen. Ralph Recto succinctly pointed out, there is no need for such barriers because both the motorcycle driver and passenger who profess to be a couple would presumably even share more intimate moments in the privacy of their homes.

Before I go into more points over the topic, let’s hear first what Raymond Tumao, one of our ardent readers, has to say about this IATF directive, which the National Task Force Against COVID-19 says will be enforced by July 19.

A matter of urgency

“I am writing you as a matter of urgency in relation to the controversial motorcycle back rider contraption requirement. I say it is urgent because it seems the person who is introducing a new design feature of motorcycles is rushing the issue because he may be an owner of a bike shop or someone is rushing him to offer a new accessory that they can cash in quick.

“Since the purpose of this contraption is for the safety of the rider and the back rider, I have a simple solution to it. Instead of attaching any accessory to the motorcycle, just wear the full-faced clear (lens) helmet.

“If both riders don this type of helmet, the aerodynamic design of the helmet will force the thrust or headwind to veer away from the driver and consequently the back rider, since the latter is staying under the draft of the rider.

“And when the motorcycle is cruising at speeds of over 30 kph, if the rider or the back rider has COVID, it will be contained within his helmet because the inside air cannot escape from the helmet.

“Make sure that the helmet has a filtration vent under his chin. This way, the external airborne virus particles cannot enter while the user maintains breathing of clean air. (Wearing a) helmet is a must anyway, even if there is no virus lurking. I hope there will be cheaper full-face helmets.

“I hope our government and Pinoy riders understand more about how a motorcycle runs with only a few square inches attached to the road. Any accessory or attachment without any engineering study may be detrimental to the safety of not just the rider, but also  to other passersby and motorists as well.

“I wish our government would understand the plight of our motorcycle riders today. Any extra expense will affect their daily income and what they are doing today is a matter of survival. So let us help them.

On the virus spread

“On the matter of forecasting COVID confirmation, I see no reason for anyone to say we are in the new normal because we are in a pandemonium since March and the worst is yet to come.

“I suggest the experts to use 75 percent of our entire population as the upper limit or maximum possible COVID patients and figure out how we can accommodate them instead of forecasting how many will be confirmed come end of the month.

“There is no way there will be more patients than the population. And when all the 75 percent is tested, that is the time we will see the downtrend. That will also be the time when our economy starts to adapt to the after effects of the virus, which we can then call as the new normal.”

Two-wheeled taxis

Even if more modes of public transportation are reopened, the risk of catching the infection is still real, and one that many Filipinos fear. Sharing a ride with a stranger, even while observing social distancing, mask wearing, temperature checking, and hand sanitizing are not always reassuring.

The future of sharing a ride with a stranger on a two-wheeled vehicle, even using the two contraptions approved by the National Task Force, which I daresay sounds crappy, does not seem to mitigate the risk of having to share a helmet that has been used by another person, even if “sanitized.”

Sorry, but no matter how dire the need of our working colleagues for a safe form of mobility that will bring them to work and back to home, motorcycle taxis do not seem to fit the need that will ensure that this contagion will not spread further.

Without any immediate assurance of a vaccine that will once again allow people to move around and intermingle freely, many who cannot afford to buy a four-wheeled vehicle are getting a motorcycle or a bicycle to assure their personal health safety. Perhaps, we should look at easy loans to help them buy a bike or a motorcycle?

The majority of working Filipinos need to get to work safely.

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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