Sharing the road

The best indicator of well-developed and thriving nations isn’t when people are buying cars; it’s when the rich take public transportation.

But that isn’t the Philippines. In our country, owning a vehicle is a sign of success, an indication that a household has the buying power to afford a vehicle.

More importantly, the ongoing pandemic highlights this disparity between the classes, with the well-off families having the privilege to have the means to reach destinations without fear of contracting the dreaded virus. With a virus that may or may not transfer through surfaces (it’s still an argument), public transportation isn’t an option – or at least it’s a risky one.

We’re talking about the middle to upper-class families, but what about the majority of people below those classes? Hence the resurgence of motorcycles, e-bikes, and personal mobility devices. 

But not all buyers of these personal mobility devices belong to the lower class. I’ve known quite a handful of people from rich families who choose to move around using their bicycles and motorcycles because it’s easier and more convenient.

Plus, in the absence of personal mobility and the campaign to stay at home, food delivery and other services involving motorcycles have become both a source of income and convenience.

In other words, It isn’t about economic class anymore – it’s about mobility.

Mobility is essential

I will not present myself as a saint that doesn’t flip whenever I see an e-bike lazily cruising through a major thoroughfare, or when a motorcycle haphazardly weaves through lanes. Or when a cyclist enters my lane out of the blue because he had to dodge a pothole.

Just like most of you, I, too, sometimes feel that these vehicles belong somewhere else.

But every time I feel that surge of annoyance creeping through my nerves, I stop, breathe, and think for a good minute. There are reasons why these people are on the road and in most cases, we won’t ever know those reasons. They might be on their way to the nearest supermarket to buy milk for their infant, or they might be delivering essential items that were ordered online.

Whatever the reason is, empathy goes a long way. Drivers of cars should let motorcycles filter through lanes. With the absence of a bike lane, make sure to steer clear of cyclists when you’re driving. Riders, on the other hand, should never take bike lanes and walkways no matter how tempting they look. We all can co-exist peacefully on the road as long as we have the right mindset.

Remember, road use is a privilege, something that you aren’t entitled to. Whether you’re an owner of a four-wheeled vehicle or an electric scooter, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right. At these adverse times, we all just need to go somewhere as safe as we can. All we need to do – or at least what your moral compass should tell us to do – is to share the road.

And hopefully, this is something we continue to practice when he reach normalcy.

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