Wednesday, February 13, 2008


With unpredictable spikes in gasoline prices, including easy-term payments offered by dealers, many local folks find motorcycles
easier to own and more economical to maintain. Thus, the motorcycle industry has been enjoying continued sales growth.

Based on figures from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), 2.6 million of the 5.5 million total motor vehicles registered in 2007 were motorcycles.

However, with the proliferation of
these two-wheeled vehicles on our streets, comes some bad news as well. According to the Metropolitan Road Safety Unit of the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority), from January to December of 2006 alone, motorcycles had the highest fatality accident rate with 23.60 percent of the total fatal accidents involved motorcycles, followed by cars with 21.86.

Therefore, the MMDA as headed by Fernando Bayani is now seriously studying the possibility of requiring motorcycle drivers to attend driver training programs prior to being issued licenses. This is, unarguably, a program worth implementing.

As other motor vehicle drivers would attest, many motorcyclists tend to ignore even the most basic traffic rules and regulations. In Manila alone, it is a common sight for a motorcycle driver to disregard light turn signals of a car ahead of him; even racing to pass it on the side it intends to make a turn.

Many motorcyclists are also notorious to weave in and out of lanes, unexpectedly overtake on the right side,
drive against the designated flow of one-way streets., and use pedestrian lanes when the street becomes too snarled in traffic -- even arrogantly pressing their horns on pedestrians who hinder their passage.

Worst of all, many motorcycle drivers allow small children to ride with them without wearing any protective head gear as required by law. And if caught and given a ticket, most drivers would simply shrug off, if not laugh off altogether, the measly 100 peso fine.

Sadly, despite the almost daily reports of fatal accidents involving motorcycles, careless drivers remain unaffected and continue to defy traffic rules and regulations; seemingly more absorbed with the idea of upholding the macho image linked with motorcycling.

Undoubtedly, mandatory motorcycle training and certification programs could help make responsible drivers out of our Manila motorcycle enthusiasts.

A motorcyclist perilously driving in the middle of two lanes at top speed.

Many drivers and passengers laugh off the P100 fine when caught not wearing a helmet.

* * *

Related links:

WHO concerned by ‘motorcycle epidemic’ deaths, injuries - Philippine Daily Inquirer


posted by Señor Enrique at 6:18 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way people drive in Manila and their habit of ignoring traffic rules, I don't even want to think of driving a motorbike :( I'm a scared pussy when it comes to motorbikes when a banana peel can potentially throw you off the road :(

February 13, 2008 8:59 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

It is dangerous to drive a car... it is even more dangerous to drive a motorcycle...
Maybe I will try driving a motorcycle the day that I am tired of life.

February 13, 2008 10:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I am yet to meet someone who owns a motorbike who hasn't had an accident with it, BW. I'm even petrified to be a passenger of one.

February 13, 2008 11:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

What's frightening, Sidney, is the thought of being physically debilitated for life from a motorcycle accident. What these drivers seem to forget is that they really have no protection whatsoever -- they're so vulnerable, yet they remain careless with their driving behavior.

Lawrence of Arabia died from a motorcycle accident.

February 13, 2008 11:04 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my best friends had 2 out of 3 brothers, 2 nephews and a cousin killed in separate motorcycle accidents. But up to this day, her other brother, nephews and cousins continue to ride motorcycles like daredevils. Their philosophy: when your time is up, you'll die wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

Eric, I can't understand what kind of magic motorcycles have on die-hard fans. I will never be able understand the philosophy that "you'll die anyway".

And here in the province, most motorcyclists don't wear helmets - even the law enforcers do not wear helmets.

February 13, 2008 6:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is truly mind-boggling, Bugsy, how some people can be so indifferent to the value of human life. I had no idea that those in the provinces can be even more reckless when driving their motorbikes.

What's troubling is the innocent people that may be involved in such accidents :(

February 13, 2008 9:44 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Ah, but this is the Philippines where life is cheap.

Sorry, I was being cynical. At least I've been in Urbano dela Cruz's blog; thus, I know things could be better. If only his ideas reach critical mass.

February 13, 2008 10:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

motorcyclists are so annoying. most of them ignore traffic rules, most of them pops instantly in front of your car, most of them are bloody annoying!

what is more annoying are those motorcyclists who bring with them their kids and you can even see that they have no PPEs, no helmets whatsoever. i get goosebumps everytime i see kids in motorbikes.

in other parts of the world, filipino motorbikers and motorists are responsible. it is really a puzzle why they can't be responsible in their own country.

February 13, 2008 11:46 PM  

Blogger mgaputonimimi said...

mabawasan na sana ang mga pasaway na mga motorista..

February 14, 2008 2:29 AM  

Blogger Tina said...

here in australia even riding just a push bike you need to wear a helmet
if you disobey the policeman will book you. i think most people here are law abiding because the gov't
look after their people very well like there's unemployment benifits, child care allowance, pension for
the elderly and medicare whether you are employ or not. the point is they
can very much afford helmet hehe.

February 14, 2008 6:17 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Though laced with cynicism, it might hint of truth, Dave. But what's really frightening are instances of accident victims who may have to live the rest of their lives as invalids, or worse, in vegetative state. Imagine the lifelong emotional and financial ordeal their families will have to endure to care for them.

I, too, appreciate the fact that Urbano always comes up with viable options.

February 14, 2008 6:56 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"in other parts of the world, filipino motorbikers and motorists are responsible. it is really a puzzle why they can't be responsible in their own country."

Observers attribute it to macho grandstanding, especially among the younger riders, Narissa.

Not only are they annoying, the thought of actually running them down and causing srrious harm to them whenever they suddenly cut you off from nowhere can be downright scary.

February 14, 2008 7:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hopefully, this driver training and certification programs can help diminish the number of these incorrigible motorcyclists, Mimi.

Nakakanerbiyos din talaga pagbigla-bigla na lamang silang lumilitaw. Kung hindi ka listo mababangga mo sila at ikaw pa ang may kasalanan.

February 14, 2008 7:02 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Same in New York City, Tina, even regular bicyclists are required by law to wear a protective head gear.

I have heard of horrendous freak accidents which caused serious head/brain injuries which could have easily been prevented with a helmet.

As for motobikers, I am yet to meet one who hasn't been involved in an accident -- minor or major. A nephew immediately sold his Suzuki Ninja motorcycle after he lost his life in a freakish motorcycling accident.

February 14, 2008 7:06 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

my husband loves to ride motorbikes and can recognize an engine by the sound. So, I have my knowledge about two-and four-stroke engines and so forth and so on. Some motorbikes are really a macho toy for me. The sense of control is inevitable once you ride these "babies." In the province I live in, motorbikes and scooters are necessary for everything that has to be transported (yes, even long bamboo poles!) because of its affordability. But then, the hazards here are not like that of Manila. I wouldn't even dream of driving anything in Manila! I think the way these action movies with hair-raising stunts cause such reckless driving habits too.

February 14, 2008 9:24 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"my husband loves to ride motorbikes and can recognize an engine by the sound."

This proves how much your husband is in tune with and knowledgable about motorcycles, Bernadette, and he exemplifies motorcyclists who are very much aware of the upside and downside of these two-wheeled vehicles. And I am sure he is one responsible motorbiker on account of such insight.

Unfortunately, here in Manila, more and more motorcycles are being acquired by those on the opposite end of the spectrum -- people with minimal knowledge of motorcycles, and sadly, operating them in perilous ways that threaten not only their own safety but those of unwitting pedestrians and other motorists.

I should also point out that I notice many young men who use their motorbikes as a means to show off as and impressed the girls as if engaged in some primitive mating call ... hehehe.

February 14, 2008 9:53 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Filipino cycle drivers are timid and tame compared to those in vietnam. A tourist who doesnt get a heart attack while riding in the front seat of a saigon taxi has a fit cardiovascular system in my opinion.

February 14, 2008 1:28 PM  

Blogger Oman said...

very nicely pointed out señor. i would just like to add that there are lots of criminals who are riding motorcycles now. in fact, my mom's handbag were snatched by a criminalriding in a speeding motorcycles.

February 14, 2008 3:55 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"A tourist who doesnt get a heart attack while riding in the front seat of a saigon taxi has a fit cardiovascular system in my opinion."

I wasn't sure whether I should be proud or horrified, John ... hehehe.

But then, I think that's a universal predicament for most cab drivers, especially among the younger drivers. My brother once equated a taxi ride in Italy to that of a hellish roller coaster :)

February 14, 2008 11:14 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ah, yes, Lawstude. But I first heard of motorbike riding bandits as being common in Rome. And now it's quite rampant in Manila. I had witnessed such purse snatching right in front of where I live. I felt bad for the victim.

I wonder what came of the idea of painting one's motorbike license plate on his helmet, too?

February 14, 2008 11:19 PM  

Blogger Aura said...

You should see the bikers driving here in the hiways Eric, they are crazy driving over 160-190 km/hr!! I can even feel our car shaking a bit when they overtake us on the road with 120 km/hr limit!!
Well,with regrds to driving a car or motorbike for me is the same as long as the driver should learn to respect traffic rules and courtesy on the road.i think yan ang problema ng mga drivers in any part of the world.

February 15, 2008 2:23 AM  

Blogger Panaderos said...


This move is way overdue but still welcome. Safety consciousness needs to be ingrained in the minds of Manila's motorcyclists, especially to the ones who use motorbikes for their livelihood.

February 15, 2008 4:41 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

At the speed of 160-190 km/hr, the wheels are already barely touching the ground, Aura. And that is way scary for me!

Goodness, I rarely go beyond 50 km/hr in Manila. Actually, I drive even slower whenever I have passengers and involved in conversations.

You're right, respecting and observing traffic rules and regulations should be the norm wherever the driver is.

February 15, 2008 7:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ay, Panaderos, on a daily basis, I have to be always on the lookout for motorbikers. Thing is, even though it is their fault when involved in a collision, since you drive a car and it's bigger and heavier than a motorcycle, you end up being the culprit.

Ayayay :(

February 15, 2008 7:21 AM  

Blogger grumpyurbanslacker said...

i think these motorbikes are an absolute menace, esp. the way they sneak up while you're making a turn, etc.

i think the reason they've proliferated is partly economical; someone who wants to have wheels and can't afford the cheapest sedan will instead buy a 150 - 200cc motorbike. Esp. since these come with some financing plans which stretch out payments up to 3 years.

as far as i'm concerned, anyone riding a motorbike WITHOUT a HELMET and gets into an accident DOES NOT DESERVE ANY HELP OR SYMPATHY AT ALL. They knew the risks, they knew their behavior is foolhardy; if they want to die or get injured so much, why should we bother to help them?

February 15, 2008 9:32 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Beyond just being an economical way to get around, motorbike riding has a certain attraction that can be understood only if one has tried being a motorbike rider.

During my bike-riding days, I used to say that there was a certain mystique in feeling the power between your legs when you are on one.

But it does require a lot, being alert, quick in responses, and yes, being young, too.

But I continue to feel apprehensive when I think about my twin sons on their big Harleys on the busy freeways here. And couple that with great fear and tension when one time we went on a trip to Sacramento, we on a car and one of them on his bike, weaving in and out of lanes in speeds definitely greater than the rest of the traffic.

I suppose the measure would be that one shouldn't on one, if one doesn't have to. Unless, trumped by a great love for motorbike riding.

A fellow officer of the same twin on the bike, who had just gotten out of his shift and going home on his bike, was sideswiped and killed by an illegal driving a big rig some months ago.

In his eulogy, one officer said: He died doing what he liked to do.

February 16, 2008 6:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"as far as i'm concerned, anyone riding a motorbike WITHOUT a HELMET and gets into an accident DOES NOT DESERVE ANY HELP OR SYMPATHY AT ALL."

True, GUS, what scares me is, whether it's the motorcyclist's fault or not, the car driver is responsible for the accident. Absurd and outrageous!

February 16, 2008 1:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It does inspire a sense of absolute freedom, Amadeo.

I don't anything about big bikes but I heard one must really know/learn how to ride those Harleys in order to enjoy it. Hence, most of them turn out to be knowledgeable and responsible drivers.

But I think those smaller and sleeker-looking motorbikes inspire many of young people who do not know any better to be like modern-day Evel Knievels.

As for your son's colleague, I've also heard that there are drivers out there who are totally inconsiderate of motorcyclists and bicyclists, too. Most deprive bikers their right of way.

February 16, 2008 1:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Señor Enrique, The WHO says that worldwide, deaths and injuries from motorcycle accidents is a public health epidemic so we Pinoys are not alone in this menace. The problem is much more. The problem is we all contribute to transforming the streets an obstacle course. Let us not blame the drivers, whether they are driving vehicles with 2, 4, 6 or more wheels. Look at the pedestrians ignoring traffic lights and signs, and the traffic enforcers who don’t consider the pedestrians to be included in the object of their work. The problem is with us. We are Filipinos and it seems that we have included “a high propensity to disregard the common good” in the definition of what a Filipino is.

I said my piece….don’t ask me for the solution. I just wanted to tell you that I admire the images you have on your blog and that I am linking some of my posts to yours. Check it out at

February 16, 2008 3:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Interesting site you have, Crossbreak. Thank you for sharing with us! I had bookmarked it for future visits. Thank you also for the special mention :)

Unfortunately, you're right -- it's not just the drivers but pedestrians as well. What to do? I don't know, either.

February 16, 2008 7:47 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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