The 3rd passenger

Published July 27, 2020, 11:00 PM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

It’s not enough that riding-in-tandem sweethearts and couples wear their helmets, masks, gloves, for now there must be an acrylic shield between them whenever they mount their motorcycles. In addition, they should have with them their marriage certificate or ID showing the same address. As if those were not enough, there’s an unseen third passenger on their two wheels, the specter of an accident resulting from what is supposed to be the “protective” barrier.

The feedback has been completely negative – no, no, no to the shield – from riders, the four biggest manufacturers of motorcycles hereabouts, scientists, and the general public, but the almighty regulators will not listen to reason. They are too busy regulating and over-regulating. It must be music to their ears to hear that 13,800 violations were recorded last week.

The manufacturers – Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki – invoke safety, a factor they take seriously after years of studying and experimenting with design, engineering, and aerodynamics, among others. They warn that the barrier “also makes it easier for crosswinds to throw the motorcycle off-balance even when running at low speeds.” Dr. Fritz Bandelow, a natural scientist, fears for riders riding with such a device that courts danger on the road. He wonders if any actual tests have been conducted in a tunnel to check the effect of the wind, specially head winds, on the vehicle and its riders.

The legendary Edsa traffic that peaked in the last 10 years contributed to a 50 percent rise in the sale of motorcycles. The ongoing lockdowns in various guises throughout Metro Manila coupled with the paralysis in mass public transportation and the proliferation of delivery services on two wheels have contributed to the motorcycle’s newfound popularity, nay, indispensability. But to have its shape and looks disfigured by an awkward-looking contraption that has not been tried and tested anywhere else before – is it a monster or joke?

As necessary as the two-wheeler may be to assassins for hire or for the thrill of it, one has to ask if the Inter-Agency Task Force that regulates every hour, every day of our quarantined lives could help Senators Richard Gordon, Ping Lacson, and their peers identify, stop the professional killers by showing them the same over-protection and over-regulation.