On July 20, the government will start strictly imposing the use of motorcycle shields for back-riding passengers. This, they say, would prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Ngayon sinisita at kino-cautionan sila. Starting Monday magpapatuapd na JTF (Joint Task Force)-SHIELD ng panghuhuli,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday.
While there’s no question that more actions need to be taken to curb the spread of COVID-19, not everyone agrees that motorcycle shields are the answer. In fact, many motorcycle experts have spoken up and said that these shields are a bad idea. Here are 8 reasons why the powers-that-be should seriously rethink motorcycle shields.
They can throw off the balance of the rider
According to riding coach Mel Aquino, the back rider should always wrap their arms around the waist of the rider. For safety, the rider and the passenger should act as one. If the passenger doesn’t lean with the rider, the bike’s balance could get thrown off and the rider could lose control of the motorcycle.
“The rider should always be in control with the bike. If the backrider will not cooperate with the motion of the rider, any sudden movement will affect the rider’s control,” Aquino explains to MotoPinas.com. “The pillion [the motorcycle’s passenger seat] greatly affects the weight distribution of the motorcycle.”
They’re not aerodynamic
It doesn’t take a physicist to see how the plastic divider could easily turn into a sail/kite. It’s bound to catch air and create resistance, and could easily cause the passenger and rider to lose balance.
Sure, this could be avoided by simply riding more slowly, but then you’d also have to factor in gusts of wind from passing automobiles (especially large vehicles like buses and trucks), which could also throw off the bike’s balance.
Don’t believe us? Just watch this video:
Motorcycle riders and passengers are already required to wear helmets, and many of these riders and passengers are also wearing face masks under these helmets. Shouldn’t a full-face helmet be more than enough protection from droplets?
It’s interesting to see how officials expect motorcycle riders and passengers to use a cumbersome barrier that could compromise their safety when motorists in cars aren’t expected to practice the same kind of vigilance. And when you take note of the fact that you’d probably be much safer from the virus when riding a motorcycle (i.e. out in the open air) rather than a car (i.e. in an enclosed space that recirculates the air), it makes one wonder why officials even singled out motorcycles…
They (obviously) weren’t designed by an expert
The motorcycle shield design approved by the IATF was designed by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap. The shield has been tested in his province and according to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, the design is safe. “Pinag-aralan naman yan, ‘yan ay safe,” he told ABS-CBN. “Wala namang disgrasya, lalo pa ngang naging maingat yung driver.”
While the intentions behind the design of the shield are probably good, one can’t help but wonder why no one stopped to say, “Uh, guys? Parang delikado ‘to.” I mean, just look at it in action:
To be fair, we’re not the first country in the world to implement plastic motorcycle shields. Indonesia did it first with its motorcycle taxis, which are still operating in spite of the pandemic. Their version of the shield is strapped onto the riders’ back, and the plastic shield is smaller as well.
Angkas recently came out with their own version of the motorcycle shield that borrows a lot of its design from the Indonesian version. This version of the motorcycle shield is also worn like a backpack, and there’s some effort to make it more aerodynamic.
But keep in mind that motorcycle taxis are still not permitted under general community quarantines, and only married couples are allowed to backride. Which brings us to our next point…
As of this writing, only married couples are permitted to back-ride. These married couples live under the same roof, are physically intimate, and so the purpose of these protective shields escapes us.
Make it make sense.
Even government officials think it’s a terrible idea
In a July 13 statement published on Facebook, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla wrote: “Unfortunately, kung sino man ang gumawa ng backshield design instruction ay kailanman hindi sumakay ng motor. It is dangerous, inconvenient and most importantly, it does NOT make sense! Wasn’t it based on the point that couples who live in 1 house makes transmission less possible? Sana sapat na ang naka-jacket, face mask, helmet, at couples pass mula sa barangay.”
Senator JV Ejercito has also been vocal about his disdain for this requirement, even asking the IATF to listen to the requests to “shelve” the motorcycle barriers before an accident happens.
Please reconsider this requirement. Again a fullface helmet or a helmet with shield up to the chin and face mask will already suffice as protection. Also, a motorcycle will be safer than being inside the car where air is recycled. pic.twitter.com/QD0ALrgOod
— JV Ejercito (@jvejercito) July 16, 2020
These are horrible accidents waiting to happen
Eto po may biktima na! Kailan kaya ito pipigilan? Hanggang may casualty na? pic.twitter.com/iQEsOAIber
— JV Ejercito (@jvejercito) July 17, 2020
Are we really going to wait until someone gets seriously hurt before we do something about this?
What do you think of these motorcycle shields?