Experts disagree with DILG’s approved backrider shield design

Backriding continues to be a hot topic among legislators and the riding public. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, some legislators were calling for a total ban on backriding due to the threat of riding-in-tandem criminals. Mandaluyong City has banned it save for those related to each other.

During the pandemic, the government has stood firm on its stance against backriding, citing that it violates the existing physical distancing protocols, as well as being an enforcement issue.

Just today, the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Eduardo Año, has announced that they will finally allow backriding or pillion riding among couples who are living in the same household starting tomorrow, July 10, 2020. There is a condition, however, and that requires the use of a backrider shield, based on Bohol governor, Arthur Yap’s proposal and designs.

Thankfully, these designs have been made public in order for many to make their own versions and easily comply with the government ruling.

How much will it cost?

Riders need to shell out atleast 3K pesos for backrider shield image

Based on these blueprints, checked with one such individual familiar with working with these types of materials, having produced plastics and acrylic stands and paraphernalia for the motorcycle trade show business over the last 30 years, Jun Mirasol of JM Mirasol Advertising.

Based on these designs, Mirasol estimates that having such a shield made and installed could cost the rider anywhere between PhP1,500 to 2,000 for labor and materials.

“Based on the specs provided by the governor, using GI pipe, some flat bars and acrylic plastic plus labor, it will cost the rider around PhP1,500 to 2,000, and it might go higher depending on the shop who will fabricate it, and may even depend on demand.”

Mirasol also shares his opinion on the material, having worked with it extensively for more than 30 years. “Unfortunately, acrylic is not the safest material to be used for that purpose,” said Mirasol in Filipino. Due to acrylic’s brittle (malutong) nature, it might even cause injury or death to both the rider and the pillion in the event of an accident, he adds.

Riders need to shell out atleast 3K pesos for backrider shield image

“Unfortunately, acrylic has a tendency to produce sharp and pointy [shards] comparable to a broken glass when it hits a hard object, like when a motorcycle crashes. That and the speed involved may send the sharp acrylic [pieces] into the rider’s [and pillion's] body. Then there's the GI [metal] tube indicated in the specified materials.”

To be on the safe side, he recommends using a polycarbonate material instead, as it is stronger and more flexible than acrylic.

However, this safer material is also pricier. “For the safety of the rider and his backride, I would recommend using polycarbonate material instead for the shield. It is stronger and more flexible (makunat) than acrylic. Plus, it would not produce any sharp shards in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, it is also pricey, maybe for labor and materials alone, it could cost the rider PhP3,000,” added Mirasol.

This development also worries Mirasol and has said that although he is in the business of building paraphernalia with the use of acrylic plastics, common sense dictates that he should not accept job orders of building such rider and pillion dividers because he knows it is not helpful at all to motorcyclists.

Alam kong hindi makaka tulong at nagwoworry ako. Mas safe pa yun plastic pang cover [ng notebook] (I know that it is not helpful and I am worried. Those plastic covers used for children's notebooks are much safer alternatives).”

In addition, many riders will notice it makes filling underseat tanks (found in most underbones and scooters) difficult. The shield is fastened since to the motorcycle's footrest. Therefore it has to be removed before the seat can be opened to access the gas tank and utility box.

Rider groups say it's dangerous

Echoingwhat motorcycle safety riding experts think, rider groups also expressed concern over the new requirement for backriding.

Riders need to shell out atleast 3K pesos for backrider shield image

In an official statement released by the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), the IATF-approved design poses serious safety risks, as it was not included in the original design of the motorcycle.

The group claims it goes counter to manufacturers' years of research and development on production bikes. Besides the safety risks involved, the group has also appealed to the government to hear the opinion of motorcycle experts and professionals during the deliberation of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to “ensure the safety of all riders and their backriders.”

Senator Bong Revilla has also echoed this safety concern and said that, instead of requiring complicated and often difficult regulations for motorcycle riders, riders and their passengers should be required to wear their usual gloves, face masks, and full-face helmets, which the senator says won’t interfere with the riders’ dexterity and balance.