E-scooter, e-bike advocates slam traffic unit for banning riders amid pandemic, transport lack
MANILA, Philippines — The recent move of a traffic management unit to ban electric scooters and electric bikes along a portion of Makati City’s Central Business District (CBD) has drawn flak for supposedly being inconsiderate and insensitive to commuters in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe lack of public transportation.
According to e-scooter advocate Edmundo Tambunting Ongsiako, such action has occurred at a difficult time when riders are increasingly relying on their e-scooters and e-bikes to avoid crowded mass transport systems, which many fear to be a breeding ground for COVID-19.
Ongsiako posted a statement on an electric bikers group in the country following an incident where e-scooter users were stopped along Ayala CBD. As a result of the incident, a petition was launched urging the Makati Parking Authority (MAPA) Traffic Management, which manages the area, to allow electric personal mobility devices (PMD) such as e-scooters and e-bikes again.
“The popularity of e-vehicles increased during the pandemic astronomically […] because people do not like to use the public transport. Even if there is social distancing in the public, in the jeepney, it’s still too close,” he said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net on Monday night.
“Not only enclosed, you’re still close to the person next to you even if you put those dividers, you’re still close […] so people are opting towards this,” he added.
Aside from MAPA, Ongsiako called out the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for drafting Administrative Order No. 2021-039 — the document being used by the traffic managers.
In Ongsiako’s view, such measures only exist in Makati – limiting e-scooters and e-bikes to barangay roads only – and are being implemented by a private group.
“What’s so funny is why will the LTO regulate this? The speed of these items which do not require driver’s license cannot go faster than 50 kph [kilometers per hour],” he asserted.
“It was only MAPA that enforced it, in fact in the other cities they have not enforced that LTO order. And then the excuse they’re saying all the time is that ‘it’s LTO, we’re just following the orders of LTO.’ Okay, the LTO order is also, I’m sorry to say, defective because it limits the use of the e-scooters and the e-bikes from going anywhere,” he added.
INQUIRER.net has sought for MAPA Traffic Management’s reaction on the issue, but officials authorized to speak on the issue were out when their side was asked for a comment.
On Wednesday, an online petition called on authorities to allow the use of electronic kick scooters inside the Makati CBD, with Makati City’s Central Business District, gained momentum on social media that day with over 1,400 signatures.
The initial target of the petition was 1,500 signatures, but over 3,700 users have already signed up virtually for the petition.
According to the petition, which was started by another advocate, Dominick Galauran, authorities should allow e-scooters and e-bikes inside the commercial area, particularly in the Ayala CBD, as users have tried to adjust to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, like distancing and health protocols.
“The pandemic changed the world. COVID-19 brought so much drastric changes in the society and the only way to move forward is to adapt. Returning to work and traversing around, some responsible users opted to use these electric motor powered Personal Mobility Devices and Electric Kick Scooters for a safer means of transportation,” Galauran said in the petition
“Using these devices, we are avoiding the use of crowded transport modes like jeepneys, buses, and trains. Not all can afford to pay for taxis and Grab rides,” he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected public transport as Filipinos are now required to maintain a safe distance from one another, thereby limiting the number of passengers per trip — whether on a bus, a train, or a jeepney.
This meant that some workers had to rely on their private vehicles more often, leading Metro Manila authorities to suspend number coding schemes. Also, the use of motorcycles, bikes, and e-scooters became a preferred mode of transportation as commuters are then assured of their own personal space, compared to mass transportation vehicles.
As of now, the Philippines’ active COVID-19 case is on the rise, currently at 62,615 after the Department of Health tallied 8,167 new infections on Monday, the fourth straight day that new infections reached over 8,000.
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