No more inane laws, please

Former senator Dick Gordon may have long left the halls of the Senate, but it seems lawmakers of the same narrow mindset as he has have remained to make life hard for the motorcycle-riding public.

Gordon is the same lawmaker who authored the controversial Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act (Republic Act 11235), otherwise known as the Doble Plaka Law, which mandated, among others, the installation of two large plate numbers behind and in front of motorcycles, which the riding community heavily protested, claiming they were not consulted when the bill was still being deliberated.

Motorbike riders and owners insisted that the installation of big metal plates, especially on the front, is extremely dangerous to the life of the rider. According to them, the big metal plate in front may not withstand the wind pressure when traveling at high speed and hit the rider, causing injury or death.

What primarily got the goat of the riders is their being categorized as people with criminal minds and are ready to commit crimes, because they have the means of concealing their identities and escaping from law enforcers.

The Gordon law, they said, is oppressive because the acquisition of the new plates and the installation of the unit will incur additional expenses for motorbike owners. Add to that the unavailability of plates and decals for motorcycles and the huge penalties involved, and you have a perfect recipe for turmoil.

Such was the unpopularity of the new law that the Land Transportation Office decided to defer its implementation, and pundits believe it may have caused the downfall of Gordon in his reelection bid in the May elections.

Then here comes two more House bills that we believe will trigger more howls of protest for their discriminatory nature.

One seeks to penalize riders for lane splitting and the other is the mandatory motorcycle club membership.

The Anti-Lane Splitting provision is contained in House Bill 1419, which seeks to penalize motorcycle riders who attempt to pass between rows of vehicles on the same road, especially during heavy traffic. House Bill 32, meanwhile, mandates motorcycle riders to join accredited clubs before vehicle registration and license renewal.

No less than Senator JV Ejercito, a rider himself, expressed opposition to the two measures, saying it will be more harmful to motorbike users if they will be passed into law.

Instead of banning lane splitting, Ejercito urged the government to make lane splitting or lane sharing safe. He pointed out that lane splitting could lessen motorcycle riders’ exposure to pollution, bad weather, and other dangerous elements as the time they spend in traffic would be reduced.

“We might do more harm to our motorcycle riders by banning lane splitting. In some countries, lane splitting has been legalized because studies have shown that it is safer for motorcycle riders to share lanes,” he said.

The lawmaker more popularly known as “The Good One” has a point. Instead of prohibiting lane splitting, perhaps authorities would be better off developing guidelines on how safe lane splitting or lane sharing can be properly implemented. In short, we should focus more on how to make our roads safer instead of passing inane laws.

Imposing new regulations and penalties “exclusive to motorcycles” will have a heavier impact on economically disadvantaged riders who may not have the means to buy larger vehicles that are not subject to the same regulations.

On the other hand, mandating motorcycle riders to join accredited clubs before they can register or renew their licenses would only transfer the responsibility of law enforcement from traffic enforcers to motorcycle clubs.

It would be tantamount to adding another layer of bureaucracy and more expenses on the part of motorcycle riders.


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