MMDA reminds motorcyclists not to stop along the road during heavy downpour

We may be in the middle of the El Nino phenomenon, but we still get some unexpected rain showers within the day. That said, the MMDA has just issued a reminder to all motorcycle riders that when it does start raining, under no circumstances are they to stop along the road and underneath bridges and flyovers for shelter. But what can they do?

MMDA emphasizes danger of motorcycles stopped along the road during heavy rains

Mmda Reminder Motorcycle Layby Reminder Inline 01 Min

Photo: Metro Manila Development Authority

It was back in 2021 during the time of former MDMA Chairman Benhur Abalos that emergency laybys were introduced. At that time, the area underneath the EDSA-Quezon Avenue flyover was the first to be repurposed as a shelter for motorcyclists during rains. More areas were slated to get similar laybys, and the list was quite extensive. It included GMA Kamuning, Kamias, Santolan/Crame, Ortigas, Buendia, Tramo (left turning), Roxas Boulevard along EDSA.

For C5, there were plans for Tandang Sora, Aurora Boulevard, C5-Libis, Pasig Boulevard, C5 Kalayaan elevated U-turn along C5 Road. The MMDA also had plans for the spaces underneath the Roxas Jr. flyover, Buendia flyover, Roxas Boulevard-EDSA flyover Seaside Drive. Areas along Alabang Road were Metro Manila Skyway (toll road) near SLEX South Station toll gate, South Luzon Expressway (toll road) near Alabang Purple Hill. Even areas under the Paranaque-Sucat Road and Chapel Road were supposed to have been repurposed by the MMDA.

Maybe they were, but the fact does remain that they may not be enough.

Mmda Reminder Motorcycle Layby Reminder Inline 02 Min

Photo: Metro Manila Development Authority

The sheer number of motorcyclists on our roads at any given point number in the hundreds. The plans of the MMDA were good, and we cannot deny that. But what poses a major problem is how they can fit under these repurposed areas in the event of rain.

As we can see, the only course for a great majority of motorcyclists is to stop at the rightmost lanes of major roads and take shelter underneath footbridges and flyovers. This is, obviously as the MMDA said, a very unsafe thing to do. Second, many roads have already reserved the rightmost lanes for bicycle lanes. Where do bicyclists go, then? Third, this practice inevitably clogs traffic flow because of the bottleneck created by these stopped motorcycles.

Mmda Reminder Motorcycle Layby Reminder Inline 03 Min

Photo: Metro Manila Development Authority

Technically, this is a form of Obstruction which is a punishable violation of our traffic laws. However, there is a loophole that can be “exploited” given its definition in Section 54 of Republic Act (RA) 4136 of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. The current definition is “No person shall drive his motor vehicle in such a manner as to obstruct or impede the passage of any vehicle, nor, while discharging or taking on passengers or loading or unloading freight, obstruct the free passage of other vehicles on the highway”.

Given that, these motorcycles stopped on the side of the road are not driving in such a manner as to obstruct or impede, nor are they discharging or taking on passengers, or loading or unloading freight that obstructs free passage of other vehicles. Whether these motorcyclists know of this or not, we think it is also fair to say that while no one wants anyone to get drenched in rain, there are also the motoring rights of everyone else along the road.

At this point, we can only think about what the MMDA and other government agencies will do. Will the MMDA move for a new law or an amendment of the actual law that is in place? Will the plans of the former MMDA Chairman be pushed further and will we see more laybys constructed or areas repurposed as shelter for motorcyclists? All that remains to be seen.

For now, let us be one in reminding the 2-wheeled community that we empathize with all of you, truly, we do. But let us all find ways to not pose an inconvenience, and more so a real danger to everyone else around us by stopping at the curb when the rain starts to fall. We are one with the MMDA as well. Again, this is dangerous, so let’s not do it. As hard as that may be, we are also ruled by the laws of the land, and by basic road courtesy as well. Let’s just not do it.

Mikko Juangco
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