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Face shield requirement dangerous for cyclists, transport group stresses
In this photo released on June 2, 2020, cyclist group Bikers United Marshalls set up an improvised bicycle lane along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Bikers United Marshalls Facebook page

Face shield requirement dangerous for cyclists, transport group stresses

(Philstar.com) - December 30, 2020 - 10:14am

MANILA, Philippines — Transport advocates hit the requirement set by the government's coronavirus task force for cyclists to wear face shields over their face when outdoors, citing the increased danger it places riders in. 

In a statement, the Move as One transport coalition pointed to the distorted vision for riders and the resulting burden on commuters, calling on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to "clarify that cyclists are exempted from the requirement." 

The IATF has required the wearing of face shields on top of the mandatory face masks not only for cyclists but also on most forms of public transportation as well. Some users have since taken to social media to voice their discontentment, calling the policy premature and unscientific. Other countries have managed to curb the spread of the infection without requiring such a pairing, and other countries that did impose similar rules required face shields alone.

READ: Duterte: Mayors must implement protocol vs COVID or step aside

"It is dangerous for people who are cycling to wear a face shield over a face mask: The face shield distorts the wearer’s vision; fogs up due to breath, the rain, or humidity; and creates blind spots," the statement read. 

"Cyclists may fall and be injured. They may be hit by speeding motor vehicles and suffer serious injuries. Should the injured require hospital care, this would further burden our fragile health care system. Worse, serious injuries may lead to road deaths," it also said. 

INTERAKSYON: ‘Serious risks’: Cycling group appeals for government to reconsider face shield policy

The group also held issue with the penalties being imposed on violators of the rule, particularly for people caught without face shields when in public, after Palace spokesman Harry Roque said that these would depend on the local government units.

Some local governments, including Pasig City and Valenzuela City, have already exempted bikers from the rule and acknowledged the additional danger it brings. 

"No one should be jailed or punished for not wearing face masks and shields in public. This is the consensus of the Coalition, our partners in the medical community, the academe, and civil society...Both citizens and local authorities will face difficulties if guidelines are unclear and subject to interpretation and discretion," Move as One said. 

This is not the first time that advocates opposed health policy in transportation. When the IATF required motorcycle barriers, experts said that they could dangerously affect wind dynamics for riders.

READ: Whatever happened to: Anti-COVID motorcycle barriers

Hundreds were arrested for violating the rule earlier in the general community quarantine, along with a separate rule that only married couples that lived together were permitted to backride. At the time, other relatives who also lived together like siblings or children with their parents were prohibited from doing so, and backriders were made to present evidence that they were romantically involved at checkpoints.

According to the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, though, the policy is still required and enforced among pillion riders to this day, though it no longer publishes figures on violations and arrests. 

"If cyclists decide to shift to using a private motor vehicle or public transport, the impact on overall mobility is negative. More private vehicles on the road will mean heavier congestion and longer commutes," the coalition's statement also said.  

"Additional people relying on public transport will translate to greater likelihood of overcrowding and longer queues, given the insufficient public transport capacity. Less bicycle use will deprive countless citizens of the health benefits of breathing fresh air, experiencing nature, and being physically active." — Franco Luna 

COVID-19 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION DOTR IATF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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