PERHAPS the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases missed this: For Covid-19-free families, motorcycle backriding is a form of social distancing in the public space. It is a method of social distancing because it distances members of the family from the greater public using the common public transportation, such as the jeepney and the tricycle.
There is a fallacy of thought circulating in the policy-making bodies in our country: When a private motorcycle—not a public motorcycle—once carries a backriding member of the driver’s family, it becomes public transportation much like the jeepneys and the motorcycles. This thinking is far from the truth, facts and the common sense of family life.
This is particularly true in Covid-19-free families. In fact, even in Covid-19-positive families, motorcycle riding maintains its social distancing far more than jeepneys and tricycles.
However, this does not apply in motorcycles used as public transportation in cities and rural areas, which we call “habal-habal.” This mode of transportation is as dangerous to virus transmissions as any other public transportation.
Private motorcycles transporting family members is an entirely different thing.
First, on the public road, the motorcycle is a separate unit of transportation that can carry only one or two passengers if properly loaded. Family members using this transportation are not exposed to viruses in public. In Covid-19-free homes, it prevents members of the family from being exposed to asymptomatic carriers who are taking the public transportation.
Second, because a motorcycle carries only members of the family, it cannot expose the public to viruses, unlike public transportation. The level of risk inside the house is maintained outside. Even in Covid-19-positive homes, riders in private motorcycles cannot expose other people in the community, as commuters in public transportation can.
Except for walking alone on the streets, only motorcycle backriding can protect Covid-19-free members of the family from being exposed to the virus in multiple passenger public transportation.
Forcing Covid-19-free families into taking public transportation is to sentence them to Covid-19 infection and to possible death. For the poor and middle class sectors in our society, such imperative is both discriminatory and contrary to public health objectives.
Private motorcycle backriding is an effective social distancing method for families, whether Covid-19-free or not.