Around the University TownThe Starting BlokeMotorcycle capital: Recipe for unhealthy people, environment

Motorcycle capital: Recipe for unhealthy people, environment


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We, Negrenenses and Dumaguetenos, brag about our Province and City as the “Motorcycle Capital of the Philippines.” In fact, in the Buglasan Festival of 2005, the program included the “longest or largest motorcycle parade…to put Dumaguete in the map and land a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.” At that time, five years ago, Negros Oriental had more than 29,000 motorcycles registered with the Land Transportation Office, with the highest number coming from Dumaguete City. I surmise that the number must have doubled by now.

Noting the above, I ask myself these questions: What potential harm can motorcycles cause to humans and the environment? How can these risks be minimized?

To answer these questions, I surfed the internet and downloaded the following:

A study by Ana-Marija Vasic and Martin Weilenmann of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, “found that both two- and four-cycle motorcycle engines collectively emit 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a ‘disproportionately high’ amount of other air pollutants compared to passenger cars…Particularly worrisome are the high levels of hydrocarbons emitted by Japanese, German and Italian two-wheelers, according to the study. Some hydrocarbons have been linked to global warming, while others are suspected of being carcinogenic. Motorcycles aren’t a primary means of transport in most developed countries, the authors note. As a consequence, they say, ‘the importance of [motorcycle] emissions has been underestimated in legislation, giving manufacturers little motivation to improve after treatment systems.’”

“Until recently, for instance, U.S. emission standards for highway motorcycles hadn’t been updated in 25 years, despite the fact that these vehicles produced more harmful exhaust emissions per mile than cars or even large sports utility vehicles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,” the article said.

And, a blogger claimed that “the pollution is worse if the motorcycle engine is badly tuned, if the rider travels at high speed, or if the motorcycle is overloaded with people.” Overloaded motorcycles is a common sight in University Town and its environs.

Another research finding showed that bicycle riders and possibly motorcyclists “who don’t get enough of exercise may have a higher risks of developing osteoporosis because their bones don’t get enough of day-to-day pounding…No-impact exercise may have bad impact for bones…” says Dr. Srinivas Ganesh, a sports medicine specialist with the Laiser Permanente in Redwood City. The theory is that bones are designed to get regular impact, even if it is just from walking around, and without that impact, the bones lose strength and density.

Another sports medicine doctor, Thor Besier, director of research at Stanford University’s Human Performance Lab, said: “Bones and cartilage are designed to withstand pretty large impact loads, and they like that kind of loading. If all you did was cycle and you compare yourself with some one who all he did was walk, well, walking would provide much more stimulus for bone and cartilage health.”

Thus, declaring our province and city as the “motorcycle capital of the Philippine” poses present and future problems to human health and pollution of the environment. How do we address the problem?

For the environmental concerns, I leave that to other like the Friends of the Environment of Negros Oriental (FENRO), with Leo Mamicpic, Terry Windler, Cecilia Hofmann to tackle. As for the human health issue, I recommend that everyone take up walking as a form of exercise–and that motorcycle dealers support and sponsor a program that encourages walking as part of a wellness lifestyle.

Noting that many entering freshman students exhibit health risks due to obesity, Foundation University made it mandatory for students enrolled in Physical Education classes, to walk and finish what is now institutionalized as the Quarter Marathon Wellness Walk.

The QMWW aims to encourage everyone to take up walking as a form of exercise, experience the challenge of walking a quarter marathon, a distance of 10.5km, and having achieved this, will continue to adopt walking as a regular physical activity and a part of a vigorous and healthy lifestyle. So far, two QMWW had been held, with some 1000 participants answering to the challenge. Alex and Irma Pal were among them.

FU, in partnership with Robinsons Place, plans to hold a monthly QMWW. To do this, we need a monthly budget of P20,000, for promotional materials such as tarpaulins, streamers and posters, certificates of participation, transportation, meals of volunteers, medical services, overtime of workers, ice, and water–lots of water.

Would our local motorcycle dealers like RUSCO, DU EK SAM, GUD TRADING and others, as their corporate social responsibility (CSR), be willing to sponsor the QMWW? And help the people in our community, especially the motorcycle riders, lead a healthy, vigorous and active lifestyle?

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