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Mechanical engineers warn: Motorcycle barrier may compromise riders’ safety, health

The motorcycle barrier required by the government for "back-riding" on motorcycles “may contribute negatively to safety, health, economy and environment,” the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) warned on Thursday.

In a position paper, the PSME explained that the barrier will affect the aerodynamics of a motorcycle in motion.

“The barrier will contribute to the change of the designed allowable aerodynamic forces (drag and lift), which will compromise the stability of the motorcycle. This will place the safety of the riders at risk,” it said.

The PSME added that there is no guarantee that the barrier “will be effective in protecting both riders from the spread of air particles to each other.”

“With the barrier attached when the motorcycle is in motion, the front side of the barrier builds up pressure while creating turbulence and suction behind the barrier,” the paper read.

The group also noted that the barrier will increase the air resistance of a motorcycle in motion.

“This directly affects the economy of the motorcycle resulting to increase in fuel consumption which contributes to the increase in emission and air pollutants which ultimately affects the environment,” it said.

“In essence, the PSME believes that the barrier cannot serve as a health and safety measure to protect the riders from COVID-19,” the paper concluded.

The government is requiring motorcycle riders to use these shields if they have a passenger riding pillion, banking on the barriers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between the two, even though the only ones allowed to "back-ride" are people who are already living together such as married couples.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield earlier extended the deadline for installing motorcycle barriers to July 26. 

Despite the safety issues raised by several experts, the barriers are selling briskly due to their being required by the authorities. — Julia Mari Ornedo/BM, GMA News