Malilong: Watch out for those motorcycles

Frank Malilong

I STILL believe that it is wise for the government to allow the operation of motorcycle taxis not only because it brings food on the dining table of many families but also because it provides accessibility to far-flung areas where the roads are not passable to other public utility vehicles.

However, ride-hailing firms like Angkas should prove that its drivers understand that they are not a special kind of driving license-holders so that like any other, they have to obey traffic rules and regulation. Otherwise, the legalization of their operation should be put on hold.

Why am singling out Angkas motorcycle riders when other drivers have even worse driving habits and attitudes? Because they are easily identifiable with the blue uniforms they are wearing. Grab Food drivers are also recognizable because of their green shirts but the service that they provide is essentially not ride-hailing but food delivery.

Besides, it is Angkas that will largely benefit from a legalization of motorcycle taxi operations. In fact, it was upon their instance that the government granted a six-month pilot run last June while Congress was deliberating on bills legitimizing motorcycle ride-hailing operations. The technical working group (TWG) of the Department of Transportation that monitored the motorcycle taxis has asked that the test run be extended for another six months.

Apparently, the TWG found out that a lot remains to be done before legitimizing Angkas and others, including the habal-habal, can happen. I am not surprised.

Because Vicente Urgello St. is under repair, it has been declared one-way. So has Uytengsu street. It seems, however, that many motorcycle drivers do not know how to read traffic signs or just plainly ignore them. On one occasion, the driver even quarreled with the tanod who told him to respect the “No Entry” sign. Not all the drivers were Angkas or Grab Food, of course, but I spotted them on many occasions.

Ignoring “No Entry” isn’t the only violation. There are more serious ones like overtaking even when you have already indicated that you were making a turn. Last Tuesday, we came very close to an accident because, while we were turning right towards Cempark after the traffic enforcer signaled us to go, a motorcycle just shot out from nowhere on our right. I noticed them only when I heard the terrified scream of the female Angkas passenger.

Our experience was not unique. In fact, it is very common. And the sad fact is that regardless of whether you hit them or they hit you on those instances and somebody dies or is injured as a result, you are inconvenienced by investigations and, if you’re particularly unlucky, court hearings.

Interestingly, while everyone sees this reckless driving all the time, the police and the traffic enforcers do not seem to notice it. It happens everyday right under their noses but I doubt if they ever have a record of one such rider being cited for traffic violation.

I suggest that when they’re not too busy at the pier area hunting for unlicensed trailers, our traffic policemen and enforcers should spend some time running after reckless motorcycle drivers, whether Angkas, Grab, habal-habal or otherwise.