I am frustrated by the growing bias people are beginning to have against people who ride motorcycles in tandem. Moreover, I am furious that there are efforts to formalize this bias by making it into a law. While I do not deny that there are people who commit crimes while riding in tandem, I do not think that riding in tandem itself should be made illegal.
According to Senate Bill 2344, “An Act Prohibiting Backriders on Two-Wheeled Motorcycles/Scooters and Exceptions Thereto” introduced by Senator Sotto III, “No back-rider shall be allowed on a two-wheeled motorcycle or scooter unless the passenger is the spouse, child or parent of the driver.” The minimum fine is P20,000 for the first offense.
There are good citizens who ride together on motorbikes who do not shoot other people or commit hold ups. Many ride in tandem just to save time and money. Others simply do it because it’s fun. I do not see anything wrong with these. Furthermore, I find the exception for passengers who are the “spouse, child or parent” of the driver too narrow. Among people who ride in tandem are friends, dating couples, domestic partners, and even neighbors who may have just agreed to ride to work together for practical reasons.
When told that many are reacting negatively against his proposal, Sotto responded saying, “This may be frowned upon by some members of society, but we have to think of the higher good of protecting the life and limb of our citizens.” (Canadian Inquirer) Wow! Are we motorcycle riders not citizens too? (When I bought my motorcycle, I had to pay tax. When I register my motorcycle every year, I pay tax. When I buy gas, I pay tax. Why are we being treated like we’re just secondary citizens on the road? My hope is that the taxes we pay will somehow translate to a safer riding environment for riders.)
The proposed law is not only insensitive; it is also stupid. How are the police and the traffic enforcers going to check if people who ride in tandem are indeed qualified for the exceptions? This means that they will have to stop every pair on a motorbike. This can mean that more enforcers will be needed and more traffic for everyone. This also means that every rider with a passenger will now have the burden of proof and can be flagged down even if they are not doing anything illegal. Oh, and does this mean that we now all have to bring marriage certificates and birth certificates? A driver’s licence used to be enough.
On the other hand, if I were going to commit a crime, all I have to do is avoid main roads and check points, or even just drop of my passenger a few meters before a check point. Regular commuters who ride to get from fixed point A (house) to fixed point B (work, school, etc.) without being late will not enjoy the same flexibility.
https://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=16&q=SBN-2344 (This is the official government site where the bill is registered)
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/371995/news/metromanila/ordinance-bans-riding-in-tandem-in-mandaluyong-except-for-family (The City of Mandaluyong has implemented an ordinance patterned after the Bill.)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/mcrightsorg/permalink/1014692505223623/ (Riders react on Facebook)
Photo Credit: http://www.pexels.com/photo/2120/