Motorcycle manufacturers, local official ask gov't. to reconsider motorcycle barrier rule

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) – A group of major motorcycle manufacturers and a local official have asked the government to forego the barrier rule that would allow cohabiting couples to ride together.

“We are appealing to the Inter-Agency Task Force to allow pillion riding without the required physical barriers in Oriental Mindoro and instead ensure the strict implementation of the Motorcycle Act of 2009,” Governor Humerlito Dolor said in a July 20 letter posted on Facebook Wednesday.

Dolor noted that the law requires motorcycle riders to wear standard helmets. He added that wearing helmets and face masks could prevent the spread of COVID-19, a belief echoed by the Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Inc. or MDDPA.

In a statement released on July 20, the Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Inc. (MDDPA) emphasized there is no scientific data to prove that placing a pillion metal shield in motorcycles can protect the riders and passengers from the virus.

“It is also the organization’s opinion that the wearing of at least half face helmet with closed face shield, more so together with face mask or balaclava, is already an excellent measure in preventing infection,” MDDPA said, noting the motorcycle gear worn by riders also serve as a personal protective equipment against COVID-19.

Both Dolor and the association warned that placing a protective shield on a motorcycle could lead to accidents because of its effect on aerodynamics while motorists are in transit.

“Not only does it drastically reduce aerodynamic efficiency, it also makes it easier for crosswinds to throw the motorcycle off-balance even when running at low speeds,” the motorcycle manufacturers explained.

A barrier in the middle of a motorcycle will make it difficult for the riders to break-free when the vehicle crashes or slides out of control, the group pointed out.

“Portions of the steel frame of the pillion shield could accidentally break-off and cause additional, possibly fatal injury to both rider and passenger,” the MDDPA said.

MDDPA also stressed that placing such metal shield is a possible violation of Land Transportation Office’s modification regulations and the warranty agreement between the motorcycle owner and manufacturer.

“It is, therefore, the position of the MDPPA that in the interest of safety, no additional fixtures or modifications should be done on the motorcycle without the approval of the LTO and the manufacturer,” the group said.

Dolor, for his part, said the proposed barriers may not be suitable for every type of motorcycle, adding the different rules from the task force and the LTO ‘will evoke confusion.’ Dolor cited an LTO administrative order which states that "any modification of the original design shall be first subject to the approval of the LTO and Department of Trade and Industry."

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on July 10 allowed motorcycle back riding for spouses and live-in partners, subject to conditions.

Authorities extended until July 26 the deadline for riders to install the prescribed barriers -- the prototype proposed by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap which uses a clear acrylic barrier held by a steel frame attached to passenger foot pegs and the backpack-like design of ride-hailing firm Angkas.