Security not just for cyclists however for all
The Senate permitted just lately a invoice requiring secure pathways on public roads nationwide for non-motorists. These lanes will reportedly be unique to those that stroll, bike, or use non-motorized transport to get round. Sure streets will also be designated as unique to cyclists and pedestrians, whereas parking areas have to be constructed for bicycles and different non-motorized autos.
In early 2019, a 12 months earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic began, I wrote that our future would contain some type of pedaling, noting that there are extra to bicycles than simply private transport. In any case, one can pedal a bicycle to additionally pump water, generate electrical energy, mill or grind grain, or sharpen knives — it’s a easy machine that has numerous functions.
However I additionally advocated for nationwide guidelines to cowl electrical and non-motorized or mechanically propelled transport, even these pedaled by people, which might be for use on public roads. And this was based mostly on the premise that anybody utilizing the highway is anticipated to be conversant in and to abide by the foundations of the highway, and something used on the highway is anticipated to be roadworthy.
The just-approved Senate invoice is a step in the appropriate route. By mandating the designation of secure pathways nationwide for non-cars and non-motorcycles, then we are able to presumably have higher order on roads and higher security for all highway customers. What the Senate invoice lacks, nevertheless, is a imaginative and prescient in the direction of regulating customers and their private mobility transport or units.
Vehicles are examined for security previous to registration. Insurance coverage is required of all automobile homeowners. Drivers are examined and licensed earlier than being allowed on roads. Registration, insurance coverage, and license are renewed periodically. Neither registration and security verify and insurance coverage, nor testing and licensing, presently apply to homeowners and/or customers of private mobility units like bicycles and scooters, and their electrical motor variations.
By worldwide conference and nationwide legislation, bicycles can legally “share” the highway. Now, with the Senate invoice, in addition they get their very own designated lanes on public thoroughfares. But, bicycles should not topic to any type of highway customers’ tax. Nor are registration or licensing required. For my part, something that runs on an electrical motor or another sort of motor, or a mix of pedal and motor, and used on public roads ought to be registered, and its consumer licensed. To take action, requires a nationwide legislation.
For something that’s pedaled and runs solely on human energy, we must also contemplate some guidelines to use, with corresponding penalties for consumer violations. We should always have some nationwide information concerning the use on public roads of all “modes of transport” aside from vehicles or bikes, electrical or in any other case, even these drawn by animals or pedaled by people. The primary consideration is public security.
Think about what different nations have at current, and choose up what we might deem finest practices. In Japan, as an example, bicycles are registered when bought, primarily as a safety towards theft. The retailer places a police registration sticker on the bicycle and provides the customer the registration card.
In Switzerland, kids beneath seven years previous can use bicycles on roads provided that accompanied or supervised by an individual of not less than 16 years of age. Additionally, private legal responsibility insurance coverage can cowl harm precipitated to 3rd events in an accident involving a bicycle. Bicycles will also be lined by family insurance coverage. However a pedal-assisted electrical bicycle or e-bike requires a motor-assisted bicycle registration plate. And this registration is renewed yearly. Licenses are additionally issued to those that use motorized bicycles, which might use solely specifically designated cycle lanes. Security helmets are additionally required for e-bike customers.
In Denmark, a bicycle is required to have one white gentle in entrance and one purple gentle on the again; reflectors on wheels, pedals, and on the body; a functioning bike bell mounted on the handlebar; and, functioning brakes on each wheels. And bicycles are topic to the identical site visitors guidelines as vehicles. Cyclists can’t carry one other particular person on a one-person bike, until it’s a toddler in a toddler seat; can’t use a cell phone whereas biking; and, should use hand alerts. Violations are fined.
Denmark doesn’t license cyclists, however a Car Identification Quantity (VIN) system has been in place in Demark since 1942, which supplied all bicycles in Denmark with a singular code composed of a mix of letters and digits embedded into the bicycle body and consists of a producer code, a serial quantity, and building 12 months code. Since 1948, it has been unlawful to promote bicycle frames in Denmark with out an embedded VIN.
As for highway use guidelines, the current nationwide rule is “one vehicle-one lane,” which implies no splitting lanes. And this is applicable to all forms of autos, together with bikes. The identical should apply to bicycles. Bikes, bicycles, and scooters shouldn’t be in between lanes, in between vehicles, and in between vehicles and sidewalks or curbs. They shouldn’t be on sidewalks both. Extra necessary, they need to by no means counter stream.
Any motorist or pedestrian will inform you that these guidelines are practiced extra in breach. Nevertheless, by simply designating secure pathways, bike lanes, and unique lanes, such misbehavior is not going to be curbed. Greater than secure pathways, we additionally want nationwide regulation to counter and penalize misbehavior, and to make sure security on our roads for all, and never only for cyclists.
Such rules can’t simply be native, anymore. There at the moment are 1000’s of bicycles and scooters, electrical or in any other case, on our streets — used for supply, for going to work, for making brief journeys from house — and all these are unlicensed, unregulated. We even see kids on bicycles and scooters, and skateboards, on sidewalks and public roads. There isn’t a nationwide legislation regulating them.
And that is the place I lend my help to Home Invoice 8156, which proposes a framework for a nationwide legislation for bicycle use. And, as I’m unclear which legal guidelines or guidelines cowl using motorized bicycles, motorized and non-motorized scooters, and skateboards on public roads, I hope the invoice can ultimately be expanded to cowl all forms of private mobility units. There ought to be a unified nationwide code for every type of land transportation.
Marvin Tort is a former managing editor of BusinessWorld, and a former chairman of the Philippine Press Council