The national task force against the new coronavirus disease (NTF COVID-19) approved on Monday two barrier prototypes for tandem riding on motorcycles.
NTF COVID-19 chair and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters in a message that “back riding [on motorcycles would] be strictly for husbands and wives, common law couples and live-in partners.”
But he said the task force was also discussing the possibility of soon allowing people from the same household, same family or their relatives to ride on one motorcycle. According to Lorenzana, one of the approved barrier prototypes was submitted by Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap. It consisted of a steel frame soldered onto the middle part of a motorcycle with plexiglass or plastic attached to maintain physical distancing between the driver and passenger.
The other was a prototype by Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca where the driver would wear the barrier like a backpack.
Instead of being secured to the motorcycle foot pegs, the Angkas shield, which weighs a kilo is worn by the driver and “designed for road safety [and] would minimize viral transmission.”
“Shield is rigid at low forces and flexible upon impact. The thin durable plastic sheet can survive massive forces without shattering and sharing, and the dulled/polished edges significantly minimizes the risk of cutting/slicing in the event of a crash,” Angkas said.
Motorcycle users have been wary of installing barriers as these would make the vehicles less aerodynamic and more prone to accidents.
But according to Angkas, its shield with back-swept flaps “would improve airflow and minimize drag and barrier deformation.”
In a TV interview aired on Monday, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said a technical working group was still studying other barrier designs.
Gradual implementationHe added that allowing couples or common law partners to ride on a single motorcycle was just an initial step toward completely allowing back riders, saying, “We have to do it gradually. First couples, then family members, then maybe everyone.”Still, he asked the public to abide by the guidelines, saying these were for their own safety.
Eleazar said the barrier on motorcycles was just one of the safeguards, along with the wearing of helmets and face masks, to avoid COVID-19 infection aside from being part of a “compromise policy” based on the public clamor for more modes of transportation at this time.ADVERTISEMENT
He explained that “the set of rules for motorcycle back riding [was] a balance between safety and the necessity of transportation,” adding that there would be a grace period to allow motorcycle riders to get accustomed to the use of barriers. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEXTER CABALZA INQ
IN PHOTO are the two barrier prototypes to get the approval of authorities: a steel frame with plexiglass or plastic soldered in the center of the motorcycle (right) and a backpack- like contraption to be worn by the driver. —PHOTOS COURTESY OF NTF COVID-19 CHAIR AND DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA