March 13, 2024

Statement On MMDA Ban Of E-Vehicles

Last February 19, 2024, the Metro Manila Development Authority issued MMDA Regulation No. 24-022 series of 2024, prohibiting the traversing of e-vehicles, such as e-bikes and e-trikes, as well as tricycles, pedicabs, pushcarts, and kuliglig’s on national roads, circumferential, and radial roads in Metro Manila.

350 Pilipinas along with the other conveners of the Mobility Awards joins the community of inclusive mobility and transport advocates in raising concern over this regulation and urges the LGU members of the MMDA to reconsider the implications of this ban to e-mobility users – majority of which belong to the more than 88% of households in Metro Manila and the greater Metro Manila households who do not have cars – and also its implications to Philippine Government’s move to promote progressive policies that reduce urban air pollution and address climate change within the transport sector.

E-mobility users need to be properly guided where they are allowed to traverse and their safety must be ensured. Abrupt displacement without clear alternatives only leads to confusion. 

We are concerned that commuters will bear the brunt, disproportionately affecting the working class and students. Restricting e-bikes and other electric-powered micro modes of transportation, especially when public transportation is already struggling with efficiency challenges and rising fuel prices.

The MMDA may have overlooked the economic impact on individuals who rely on e-bikes and other Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) daily for their mobility, livelihood, as well as for commuting without enduring lengthy queues in public and mass transport systems (LRT/MRT/buses). These vehicles are crucial for riders providing essential services such as delivering food and packages, or students who resort to e-vehicles to get to their schools in Taft Avenue and Recto Avenue, or daily workers who rely on their e-bikes to get to their work as they find them more reliable and efficient than manual pedaling. E-trikes have been used as a last-mile delivery alternative connecting mothers and consumers in commercial districts.

If the goal is to address safety concerns, should not speed limit regulations be properly imposed,  with proper distancing and clear demarcation segregation lanes for buses, private vehicles,  two wheel motorized vehicles, three-wheelers, bicycles and pedestrians be set-up to reduce conflict and accidents between road users?

E-mobility users need to be properly guided where they are allowed to traverse and their safety must be ensured. Abrupt displacement without clear alternatives only leads to confusion.

In 2021 alone, there were 1,658 recorded users of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) counted in just four hours on selected roads such as in Ortigas Avenue, Shaw Boulevard, A. Bonifacio Avenue, Marcos Highway, and Katipunan Avenue. Now that the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) has been enacted, and an open market for electric vehicles including options for micro mobility is being promoted as an attractive and feasible mode of transportation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the regulation provides a rather confusing signal whether national policies are at sync with local policies.

Further, The Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2020-0001 by DILG, DOH, DOTR, and DPWH encourages the use of active transport and the construction of bike lanes for the use of both active transport and light mobility users including e-bicycles. In fact the JAO emphasizes the joint responsibility of both LGUs and NGAs to prevent road congestion by limiting use of private vehicles. The imposition of a ban appears contradictory and fails to align with the earlier issued policies.

In this context, it is more logical to address the pressing need to allocate dedicated space for these modes of transport rather than resorting to punitive and discriminatory regulations when in fact, the persisting issue of bike lane encroachment by speeding motorists, which is prohibited by the JAO, remains unaddressed.

Electric vehicles like e-bikes and electric three-wheelers are practical for errands and contribute minimally to traffic compared to four-wheeled cars. And let us not forget that at the end of the day, electric bikes, known for being cost-effective, space-efficient, and environmentally friendly. They play a crucial role in mitigating both air and noise pollution in cities. Cheaper than cars, they can weave out of traffic easily, require minimal parking, and for e-bikes they offer exercise when pedaling on flat roads.

As the implementing rules and regulations of the Regulation is being developed, we urge local governments and government agencies to:

  1. Carefully consider the direct negative impact on individuals affected by the ban. Conduct community stakeholder consultations especially those who will be negatively affected by these restrictions of access and draw out clear measures to help cushion the impact to stakeholders.
  2. Address safety concerns not only from the perspective of other motorist users, but also from the perspective of e-bike, electric micro mobility users. Allocate space and provide clear guidance, wayfinding on where they can have safe passage to get to their destination, before an outright ban and imposition of penalties.
  3. Provide the affected electric micro mobility users with a clear plan and timeline on how to improve public transportation and improve intercity connectivity. It is about time that we have a coherent transport plan that not only addresses the issue of traffic congestion but also prioritizes  mobility and access of commuters and active transport users and makes Metro Manila cities conveniently accessible and interconnected.Just like any technology, electric vehicles including electric micro mobility will become facets of the future as competition for urban space, rising fuel costs will become the norm. We challenge Metro Manila Cities and the leadership of the Metro Manila Development Authority to prepare for this future.
  4. Lastly, we urge all motorists out there including e-vehicle users to drive with caution, obey traffic rules and speed limits, respect other road users especially those who have less in wheels, particularly especially mothers, children, and persons with disabilities (PWDs). Everybody wants to reach their destination safely.