The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) led by secretary Edgardo Año, has finally allowed backriding or pillion riding, but only for married couples and with a non-permeable shield in between them.
Unfortunately, to be able to backride, there is a long list of requirements and safeguards needed. First of all, married couples must present a photo copy of their marriage certificate, there must also be a backrider shield between them built according to specs submitted by Bohol Gov. Art Yap. Finally, this gadget may cost the rider‐couple an extra PhP1,500 to PhP3,000 to have a shop fabricate.
Proposed backrider shield by Gov. Art Yap of Bohol.
A simpler solution
But did you know that one of the member agencies of the IATF-EID suggested that a balaclava and full-face helmet were enough?
MotoPinas.com learned from a member of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Our source there confirmed that they were involved in the deliberations of the special Technical Working Group (TWG) that came up with the requirements for allowing backriding. According to our them, common sense dictated that a balaclava and full-face helmet were more than enough.
They pointed out that the balaclava — something we motorcycle riders have been wearing even before the pandemic — already provides some protection like a face mask. Wearing a full-face helmet on top of that provides the same protection if not better than a face shield. The agency is already well aware of the average riders' many concerns and expenses during this time and believes these simply requirements are easy to acquire if not already owned by the rider.
Sellers on Social Network classifieds are already offering a backrider shield for sale.
Complicated and dangerous
Unfortunately, other members of the task force insisted on these additional and more complicated requirements. In addition to being another costly expense, motorcycle safety experts have already pointed out that it may pose some additional dangers, such as catching wind and causing the rider to lose control, or impaling the rider with sharp fragments in the event of an accident.
“Alam kong hindi makaka-tulong at nagwoworry ako. Mas safe pa yung plastic pang cover [ng notebook]. (Some will say my concerns aren't helping, but the plastic covers used for children's notebooks are much safer alternatives),” said JM Mirasol, a motor trade show exhibitor who has worked extensively with acrylic, GI pipes, plastics, PVCs, and polycarbonates.
The DILG, however says this designed has been reviewed by experts and does not post any safety concern. DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the approved design of the physical barrier, proposed by Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap, was studied by experts and the Land Transportation Office.
"Ito po ay nasuri din ng ating mga eksperto at maging ang LTO ay sumusuporta po sa paglalagay ng physical barrier so we do not see this as a possible safety concern,(This was studied by experts and even the LTO supports placing a physical barrier so we do not see this as a possible safety concern.)" Malaya said in a virtual press briefing.
The motorcycle riding community, on the other hand, vented their frustration (and witty humor) on social media. There were comments such as “Why [does] the government require a backrider shield for couples, when in fact they share the same bed at home,” and “How do we fill our gas tank [under the seat] if the backrider shield is required to be fastened to the [passenger] footrest?”
Open to suggestions
Today is the first day of the implementation of the new motorcycle backriding policy. With many riders keen to begin backriding again, the enforcement agencies will no doubt have their hands full with riders making their own versions of the backrider shield. The IATF is, however, open to suggestions for new and improved designs to that may be even safer for the rider and pillion, but also everyone on the road.