Should they reconsider the e-bike ban?

E-bike owners, mobility advocates, and more e-bike owners were enraged with the recent announcement from the Metro Manila Development Authority. The MMDA has published Regulation No. 24-022 series of 2024 that bans e-bikes and e-trikes, along with tricycles, pedicabs, pushcarts, and kuligligs from major roads in Metro Manila. 

It’s also more of an amendment to MMDA Resolution No. 16-08 Series of 2016 that bans tricycles, pushcarts, pedicabs, and kuligligs from major circumferential and radial roads in Metro Manila. Only this new resolution added e-bikes, e-trikes, and a few more roads. 

Along with the ban, the new resolution is also implementing something new. Drivers of e-bikes and e-trikes should have a driver’s license. If they are caught without one, the MMDA will have their vehicle impounded in addition to the PHP 2,500 fine. 

What most people fail to realize is this resolution isn’t from the MMDA alone. They were the one who announced it, but discussion for this and final approval involved the Metro Manila Council. MMC is composed of the Mayors of all the cities in Metro Manila. For sure, their decision involved studies, ground work, and feedback from their respective traffic bureaus regarding the behavior of e-bike and e-trike drivers in public. 

But just how did we end up in this situation? 

If you remember, prior to the pandemic, e-bikes were already gaining traction as an alternative means of transportation. However, as far as I remember in my life in QC back then, they were orderly and were used in short distances. The most they’ll go to are palengkes and small groceries that are near housing projects or subdivisions. 

Things started getting out of hand ironically when the pandemic was starting to fade away. Public transportation returned in tranches due to long discussions on how we can maintain safety in a public vehicle. This meant those who need to travel longer distances with a jeepney are left with no choice but to hire a cab, Grab, or pay significantly more for their tricycle to cross TODA boundaries. Doing this repeatedly will add up to a hefty sum in one’s pocket, thus the e-bikes and e-trikes started making sense for many middle class families. 

The problem with this is many of them do not know the rules of the road, or even the proper etiquette. The most I’ve encountered are those making a turn or changing lanes without using their side mirrors or looking if there’s a vehicle on their side first. Then there are those who bypass the stoplight of an intersection and go along the pedestrian lanes, so they can cross, before going back to the road. The bravest ones will go out in the widest section of Commonwealth Ave. and go through all those lanes, just to make a U-turn, then do the same again on the other side. These are just three of their many common errors on the road. For more reference, check your preferred social media platform. 

Mobility advocates say this resolution is anti-poor and anti-mobility. I’d agree with them if not for the fact that many e-bike owners and drivers abused the leniency given to them. How many times have you seen an e-bike blatantly not follow the rules? They will disregard something as simple as a red light because they know that in case of an accident, they’ll have no liability to the other party. It’s more than the usual ‘kamot-ulo’ used by jeepney drivers and tricycle drivers, this is plain arrogance. 

Some say that instead of a ban, the MMDA should just educate these people so they’ll behave better on the road. Sweetie, it’s not their responsibility to teach the public about the rules. It’s on the individual to learn, which is why there are driving schools all over the metro. 

There are legit concerns though about the new rule. How about the literal e-bikes, those 2-wheeled bicycles with a battery pack, that traverse bike lanes on the roads included in the ban? The couriers who use the same vehicle in their deliveries? How can people go to nearby establishments – groceries, banks, pharmacies, etc – that are placed on the included roads with no alternative nearby? 

It’s unfortunate that the innocent ones were included in this ban. However, this solution is fit for the time being. How else can you regulate e-bikes when there are already too many on the road? It’s also very easy to acquire them both new and second-hand. Limiting their mobility and requiring a driver’s license are good first steps to be on the good side of authority. Now, advocates should focus their attention on educating others to avoid getting more restrictions. 

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