The existing tollway regulation banning motorcycles with engine displacements below 400cc has long been a subject of debate among road users. What was the basis of tollway authorities for setting the limit of motorcycles engine displacements allowed to enter the expressways at 400cc?
Muntinlupa representative Ruffy Biazon has been asking the management teams of the different tollway systems in the country this question to no avail. He wants a clarification on whether the decision was supported by scientific data or just a product of arbitrary judgement.
Biazon’s curiosity on how the expressway operators came up with the 400cc limitation deepened as several rider groups called for an end to the alleged discrimination against small bikes. "Dapat may pinagbabasehan,” says Biazon of the 400cc engine displacement ceiling.
With his 300cc Vespa scooter, Biazon claims that he gets only half the fun of riding because he can only use the service road every time he leaves his house in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. “Talagang gusto kong makapasok (sa SLEX),” he adds. "Nakakailang sa service road dahil magugulo ang mga sasakyan.”
As an experiment, Biazon agreed to join 14 other Vespa riders who entered the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) last June 28. Jay Ortega and David Kwinkle, vloggers from Lane Splitters PH, first thought of the experimental ride and presented it to the 49-year-old solon who is also a rider. Biazon owns a Vespa GTS300, which is not qualified to enter the tollways, so he agreed to be one of the 15 ‘guinea pigs.'
Jay and David coordinated with the management of the SLEX to allow them to enter the expressway on Vespas powered by 150cc to 300cc engines. Their request was granted with one condition: They will be escorted by two tollway motorcycle patrols from their point of entry in Alabang until the Santa Rosa exit. A van served as the sweeper vehicle for the group. Biazon had to shoulder the special permit fee for the escorts.
Doing the experimental ride was a fun-filled experience for Biazon. “Definitely I enjoyed. We were comfortable because all vehicles are moving in one direction. The predictability of the vehicles' movement gave us a high sense of safety.”
But he is quick to present two sides of the coin. “What if dinaanan ang scooter ng malalaking sasakyan, tulad ng bus na humahataw? Hindi ba sila (scooters) hahanginin?”
The experimental ride, he says, is not conclusive since they were practically riding in a secured and controlled environment with tollway escorts who even stopped vehicles emerging from toll plazas. The tollway patrol personnel also confined their group to the rightmost lane of SLEX, maintining speeds between 60kph to 100kph until they reached the Santa Rosa exit.
“Nevertheless, it gave us a feel of the physical demands of smaller motorcycles plying the tollway,” he says.
Again, Biazon would emphasize that he’s not ready to take sides on the proposal to open the tollways to small motorcycles. He needs more time to obtain statistical data and conduct more research on the issue—data that uses a comprehensive and realistic approach.
The ban on motorbikes with 400cc engines and below is based on Republic Act No. 2000, also known as the Limited Access Highway Act. Amending this old law would need congressional approval.
After the experimental SLEX run, what could be the next move of Congressman Biazon to address the plight of small motorbike riders? Will it be a shotgun ride to SLEX without escorts?