Motorcycle Lane: Why the kamote wars doom technically good ideas to fail

The main driving force in the inception of the exclusive motorcycle lane along Quezon City’s last, wide open, non-toll highway is that it’s “A way to reduce motorcycle-related road crash incidents and ensure smooth traffic flow along Commonwealth Avenue”. We can’t deny that this idea is sound, and the intentions are good. But what makes it so hard for people to realize, understand, and accept that everyone’s cooperation is needed to make it work?

Don’t get me wrong. I live in this area, so I do see all the pothole-riddled portions and unevenly paved (if they’re even properly paved at all) lanes along both sides of Commonwealth. But what we’re here to talk about is the seemingly blatant disregard, arrogance, and just the overall lack of respect of some motorcyclists and other motorists that consciously turn a blind eye toward what’s supposed to be able to keep them and everyone else safe: an exclusive motorcycle lane.

Motorcycle lanes are supposed to be safe, but there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed

Mmda Commonwealth Motorcycle Lane Dry Run Extension Inline 03 Min

Photo: MMDA

FYI, people, this is mostly, if not all about the kamotes and the kamote wars that they so effectively wage against those who, despite the issues we’ll be tackling, choose to respect the law and use the motorcycle lane, okay? But hey, if you’re affected and if the shoe fits, well, go ahead and wear it. So here we go.

Here’s what it is: everyone who’s anyone has had their fair share of two-wheelers going about their merry way without a care in the world. Some of those behind them would blow their horns, some would flash their lights to remind these motorcyclists of the motorcycle lane meant for them, and really, can you seriously say that the greater majority would move out of the lane and into the blue lanes? Or is it much easier to recount how so many of these motorcyclists would intentionally slow down, look back at them, maybe wag a finger or flip the proverbial bird, and keep puttering along without so much as reconsidering what they’re doing?

And then there are those who decide to ride along the painted lines themselves, straddling two lanes. It’s but common sense that compels a motorist to stay within the lines and not on them, but lo and behold, there is no shortage of motorcycles (and other vehicles) that decide to “trace the dotted (or painted) line”. But, why? What’s the sense? And then when they’re flashed or beeped at, they are the ones who are angry.

Ang yayabang. Hambog. Mga mali na nga, matatapang pa. While not all motorists are as clean as a church’s sheets, it’s this mentality of being arrogant while consciously being wrong that makes up the bane of our streets. When they see enforcers herding motorcycles into the motorcycle lane, they comply. Those that don’t get apprehended and are so sheepish and “repentant” asking for “pasensya na” and when they’re let off, guess what? To the blue blazes with the motorcycle lane. Again.

It’s a mockery of the law, justice, and those who enforce it. It’s not done out of respect or reverence. Rather, what seems to be the main – the only – concern of these sorts of riders is to get to where they want to go no matter the cost, and if they get caught, the law is “anti-poor” or the elements of the law are extortionists, the system is corrupt, so on and so forth. Come on. Really?

This leads us to the issue of how and why such motorists are deemed worthy and eligible to even drive. I don’t remember pigheadedness, lawlessness, and arrogance to be on some sort of checklist of traits you need to have to be able to get a license. Education, people. What’s wrong is wrong. So alright, the LTO is exerting its best efforts to address this by accrediting proper driving schools, along with other private entities giving proper riding lessons and etiquette to motorcyclists. Getting into a motorcycle lane isn’t supposed to be too hard, right? It’s now a law.

Now, on to the more obvious. A lot of comments on anyone’s statements regarding Commonwealth’s exclusive motorcycle lane would touch on the fact that the surface of the moon may be a lot smoother. I concur. This is very, very true! This issue doesn’t only affect the two-wheelers’ motorcycle lane, though, and it also rattles those in 4-wheelers and trucks right to their dentures’ adhesives. Right, so the MMDA and the DPWH are also exerting their best efforts to even the roads out, and that’s good.

The fact is, all motorists are complaining about it. A quick response is always appreciated, but for the benefit of all and not just those on the motorcycle lane, the issue of proper and consistent maintenance is in play here. Please, government, do it. No ifs, no buts. Just do it.

Mmda Commonwealth Motorcycle Lane Dry Run Extension Main 00 Min

Photo: MMDA

Next up, dissemination of information and enforcement. What boggles me is how I see so many enforcers herding motorcycles into the motorcycle lane along the Fairview-bound side of Commonwealth. From Fairview to Elliptical Road, though, you see no one. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Okay, maybe I’ve seen a few in the past weeks of the dry run, but it just makes no sense. I empathize with the enforcers who were tasked to stand under the blazing sun to deal with erring motorists, I truly do. It’s not an easy job. But see, enforcement must be proper and consistent. I won’t even take too long here, I’m sure you’ll connect the dots on how this is such a curious thing.

Finally, this one’s for all the other vehicle owners and drivers out there who are not supposed to drive along the motorcycle lane but do so anyway. Private vehicles, PUVs like jeepneys and buses, taxis, and UV Express units, all are also guilty in one way or another. On one hand, and I want to get this straight, while the blue markings that delineate the motorcycle lane are clear (for the most part, they sort of trail off between Batasan and Litex), the white lanes that are meant to guide all other vehicles are not.

No, really. Drive along Commonwealth and you’ll see what I mean here. They taper off, disappear, and suddenly merge right back into the blue lanes. Please get them painted on right.

There are those who do their best to respect and stay out of the motorcycle lane, but perhaps they, too, deserve clearer road markings to know when they’re already “out of bounds”, right? For some good stretches, it’s a guessing game if you’re still in line and if you’re encroaching into the blue lanes already. And if you’re caught unaware, bing bang boom, you’ll be pulled over for also violating the motorcycle lane. For now, there’s no penalty, but starting this week, your wallet’s going to feel it, for sure.

On the other hand, there are those who, with clear road markings or not, also choose to walk the Way of the Mandalore, err, Sweet Potato, and just disregard the motorcycle lane, too. This just leads me back to the curious approval of these drivers’ licenses, and what in the world they must eat or drink to be so brazen and believe that the law doesn’t apply to them as well.

Mmda Enforcer Commonwealth Motorcycle Lane Dry Run A Min

Photo: Quezon City Government

Ladies and gentlemen, sweet potatoes aren’t just those motorcyclists who ignore the motorcycle lane, who pay no heed to the law, and who care only for themselves, but they are also those four-wheeler-and-up motorists who choose to do the same as their two-wheeled counterparts. This battle, this “war” is more far-spread than we really choose to address and accept, and it’s the mindset of the proponents and supporters of this way of driving that is the enemy.

Progress has a price, and for the most part, change comes at a great cost. The only blood being shed here is because of some senseless, needed accidents that take the lives of people. That’s why the motorcycle lane is being implemented, and that’s why those who seriously want to make it work ask everyone to please give it a chance. Again, it is a technically good and sound idea. But we’ll never see how well it can and should work if motorists, traffic enforcers, and those in government alike will not resort to all the legal ways and means to make it work so.

We all need each other’s help. Make no mistake about that. So if you drive a motorcycle, as new and difficult as it might be, please stay in the motorcycle lane. If you drive anything with more than two wheels, please stay out of the motorcycle lane unless you’re planning to turn right; and do so with ease and care, yes? It’s not an arcade game, and there are no reset buttons. And that goes for all of us.

So citizens, motorists, public servants, law enforcers, and government agencies, please, let’s do this. And let’s do all of this right. Another seemingly good plan going down the drain is the last that all of us need.


Mikko Juangco
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