Face shields pose serious risks for cyclists — transport advocates

Published December 29, 2020, 4:29 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

A coalition of transport advocates is continuously opposing the policy of the government’s pandemic task force to require cyclists to wear face shields over their face masks.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, Move As One Coalition emphasized safety as the principal reason why it is pushing to exempt cyclists from wearing face shields.

According to the coalition, the policy exposes cyclists to increased risk of road injuries and even death as it “distorts the wearer’s vision; fogs up due to breath, the rain, or humidity; and creates blind spots.”

“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 explained.

Aside from safety, the coalition pointed out that the policy for the use of face masks and face shields should be “enabling and not punitive,” adding that no one should be jailed or punished for not wearing these.

Move As One added that this requirement will also discourage the use of bicycles during the pandemic which will further undermine citizens’ mobility and affect their health and mental wellbeing.

“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 said.

The group pointed out that more people relying on public transport will only translate to a greater likelihood of overcrowding and longer queues, given the insufficient public transport capacity.

It also slammed the absence of clear guidelines on the enforcement of the policy which it said will further burden the public, as well as local authorities.

With this, Move As One urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to clarify that cyclists are exempted from the requirement to use a face shield.

It is the IATF that earlier announced the mandatory wearing of face masks and face shields for everyone in public areas to reduce the risk of virus transmission. Previously, face shields were only required when riding public transportation and entering enclosed establishments. 

The IATF, however, said exemptions may be announced when concerned agencies come up with a consolidated advisory on the proper use of face shields.