Erle, maybe you can learn a thing or two from your colleagues in journalism... here is an article written by Lester Dizon for the Philippine Star:
Shattering Motorcycle Myths
BACKSEAT DRIVER By Lester Dizon
The Philippine STAR 12/14/2005
It used to be that when I tell a friend, a casual acquaintance or a relative that Iâ€™m into motorcycling, they would normally give me a look like Iâ€™m suicidal. The conversation will always end with something like "Think about your family, especially your children, who might grow up without a father," or a similar statement to that effect.
But nowadays, when I tell people Iâ€™m into motorbikes, many respond with "Iâ€™m thinking of getting into bikes, too," or "I just got a bike myself." It might be because of the spiraling cost of fuel or the increasingly heavy traffic, but people are beginning to see motorcycles as sensible transportation and not just as a hobby or a toy of riders with a death wish. But whatever the case, motorcycle riding is finally coming out as a safe and fun alternative to go around town.
Unfortunately, some age-old myths about motorcycling still exist and some people still have misconceptions about riding motorbikes because of these. Please allow me to share with you four of these myths and popular misconceptions:
Motorcycles are a minority. Drivers of four-wheeled vehicles especially large trucks and buses, tend to bully motorcyclists because they think that their trucks and buses outnumber motorcycles, plus the fact that their vehicle is much, much larger. They may be larger in physical size but the truth is, according to DOTC-LTO data, the motorcycle population is much larger than the bus and the truck population, as well as the car population. There are now over two million motorcycles registered nationwide (or almost 40 percent of the total national vehicle population) with almost 200,000 in Metro Manila alone (or 20 percent of Manilaâ€™s vehicle population) compared to 36,029 buses nationwide (1 percent) with 11,256 buses in the National Capital Region (1 percent) or 292,168 trucks (10 percent) with 71,285 trucks (8 percent) cluttering up the NCR while cars constitute 862,847 (29 percent) with 521,939 cars in the Metro (62 percent). The motorcycle figures do not include tricycles which number about 603,827 units (20 percent), 63,243 of which are picking up fares in Metro Manila constituting seven percent of the metropolisâ€™ vehicle population. Thus, if all two million motorcyclists were to unite, they can put up their own congressional party list and install their own congressman or woman. In an election year, the bikers and their immediate family would be a considerable voting block of about 10 to 15 million voters. Think of all the motorcycle-friendly legislatures that can be passed in Congress!
Motorcycles are inherently dangerous. My mama always told me that life is like a box of chocoâ€¦oops, I meant she used to tell me that riding a bike is like having one foot in the grave. She got that idea from my grandpa who crashed his new Triumph Montesa 250 Twin when he had a diabetic seizure while riding in Vietnam in 1968. And he didnâ€™t know that he was diabetic until he had his seizure! Tsk, tsk, his near-death accident wasnâ€™t the motorcycleâ€™s fault after all. Well, reports from the NCR Traffic Management Office (TMO) echoes the safety records of motorbikes. According to the NCR-TMO data base, three accidents happen to each registered bus yearly, compared to one accident per 1.5 cars and one per 1.75 trucks. Motorcycles on the other hand, have the safest record with one accident per eight registered motorbikes while an accident occurs for every six registered tricycles. Furthermore, the NCR-TMO reports that fatality rates from motorcycle accidents constitute only one percent compared to two percent for cars and the same percentage for trucks and three percent for buses and the same for jeepneys. Unfortunately, while itâ€™s a statistical fact that motorcycles are not accident prone, it is a reality that motorbikes are vulnerable. Thatâ€™s why riders should concentrate more on their riding than drivers of four-wheeled vehicles do on their driving. Average driving of an automobile requires around 4/10ths of your concentration (or lower) while riding a motorcycle requires 10/10ths or your complete attention. Of course, wearing the proper riding gear (helmet, eye protection, padded jacket, gloves, long pants, knee protector and ankle-high boots) ensures rider safety, too.
Motorcycles are polluters. Admittedly, some motorcycles do litter the environment with white smoke or unburned hydrocarbons emitting from their poorly-maintained engines and noise from their incorrectly modified, unrestricted or straight-flow exhaust systems. Fortunately, these bikes are the minority rather than the majority. But if you really think about it, there are less pollutants spewed into the air by a basic single-cylinder motorcycle carrying a single rider than there are pollutants spewed by a basic four-cylinder car carrying a single occupant. Motorbikes consume less fuel, too, which can help reduce the countryâ€™s dependence on oil. Motorcycles also occupy less space than cars, which could solve the traffic problem if more people rode than drove. More over, motorcycles are infrastructure efficient, meaning you can fit more bikes into a space occupied by one car. For example, a parking slot for one car can accommodate five motorbikes, and these can help preserve the remaining greenery instead of converting the space into another parking lot.
Motorcycles are impractical transportation. In our country of dry and wet seasons, many claim that motorcycling has no place: itâ€™s too hot to ride in summer and too wet to ride during the rainy season. Unfortunately, these claims are made by people who donâ€™t really ride. I ride during summer wearing an armor-padded mesh jacket and not only do I look cool, but I ride cooled by the wind. I wear a vented rain coat during the rainy season and though I may be wet with a little sweat and rain, Iâ€™ve never been caught in a traffic jam caused by a flooded street. I can always turn around and find another unclogged or moving route whenever I get caught in a flood-caused traffic jam. And regardless of weather, riding always saves me between 30 to 60 percent of the travel time compared to driving. I get to where Iâ€™m going faster and I can go to more places given the same amount of time. Donâ€™t get me wrong, I love to drive cars but not in our traffic-snarled city streets. Not unless I have to, that is.
So, there you have it. Based on empirical data, motorcycles are proven to be safer, and they reduce travel time, can help reduce the national fuel consumption, spew fewer emissions and are infrastructure efficient. Bikes also allow a lower entry level for low- to middle-income blue-collar workers to acquire their own means of transportation and the motorcycle may be the untapped development program that can move our nation forward.
I can only hope that one day the Philippine motorcycle industry will become as important and as dynamic as the local car industry like in Indonesia, where I came from recently. I had a chance to get an overall view of the Indonesian motorcycle industry when I rode a new Yamaha motorcycle model from Jogjakarta and around Java Island to the city of Medan in Sumatra Island in the Yamaha Pan Asean Touring series. With a human population of 222 million and a motorcycle population of 58 million, Indonesia has a human/motorcycle density ratio of 4:1 compared to our country which has 85 million Filipinos and only two million motorcycles, or a ratio of 42:1. Their motorcycle industry sells about five million bikes annually and makes Indonesia the largest motorcycle market in the Asean region. The Philippine motorcycle industry sells only about 550,000 bikes a year but promises a lot of market potential. And as I mentioned earlier, motorcycles maybe the untapped potential to move our economy forward.
Oh, and before I forget, riding a motorcycle is great fun, too! So swing a leg over a bike and ride safely!