Motorcycles: a threat to environment - Weekend

Motorcycles: a threat to environment

Jerome NeriAtty. Jerome G. Neri
The Scrutineer

THE Clean Air Act was passed over 10 years ago. As a consequence, we now have emission testing and all new cars have pollution controlling devices on them, most commonly known as catalytic converters. A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device that converts toxic pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction.

Catalytic converters are used with internal combustion engines fueled by either gasoline or diesel. With our cities getting crowded, vehicles with proper pollution controlling device are a big help in keeping the quality of the air we breathe. However, there is also an alarming and increasing number of brand new motor vehicles being sold without any pollution controlling devices. I now think it is a threat to the environment and the Government must act now before it is too late. I am talking about motorcycles.

KINGS OF THE ROAD. Motorcycles block the pedestrian lane at the corner of Junquera and P. del Rosario Sts. in Cebu City.
KINGS OF THE ROAD. Motorcycles block the pedestrian lane at the corner of Junquera and P. del Rosario Sts. in Cebu City.

While these small 100cc-200cc motorcycles individually seem to be giving out insignificant amounts of pollution, the sheer number of them plying our streets now will soon make them the number one polluting motor vehicle.

Just 16 100cc or 8 200cc motorcycles will be equivalent to an average car. While the average car today has pollution controlling devices built into it, the motorcycle has none.

I was crossing a street, and as usual, the pedestrian lane was completely occupied by 20 or so motorcycles, so I crossed behind the motorcycles. I could really smell the toxic exhaust gasses these motorcycles were emitting. When I got to my office the stench of exhaust stuck to my clothes and my hair. It is that bad.

Everywhere we go now there are hundreds of motorcycles – any mall, in IT Park, at the bottom of the Busay road, among others. All these small motorcycles are powered by an internal combustion engine, which by nature is a pollutant. Most of the small motorcycles being sold in the Philippine market today use old technology and are fueled mechanically by carburetors, which, in my view, would aggravate the motorcycles’ polluting effects. It seems fair to me to assume that every 12 motorcycles on the road is collectively emitting toxic pollutants beyond the limit allowed by law for an average small sedan, and on any given day there are tens of thousands motorcycles running in our streets.

To illustrate, a 200cc motorcycle is capable of doing 30 km/liter, therefore 10 200cc motorcycles consume a total of 10 liters for 30 kilometers. Now a van that can carry 10 people consumes six km/liter and therefore uses five liters to travel 30 kilometers.

It is high time that Government should require all motorcycle sellers to install pollution control devices it the motorcycles they sell and subject the same to strict emission testing. This has to be done immediately because this is not only an environmental issue but a public health issue.

Moreover, I have a couple of friends who purchased an electric scooter and they are very happy with it. One charge can get them a range of about 60 km/day. That is a lot for Cebu. The costs of purchasing and running electric scooters seem very reasonable. It is claimed that to completely charged one will cost less than P15 in electricity. A good electric scooter will set you back between P40,000 to P70,000, just about the same price as the gasoline powered ones. The drawback is it is not as fast as its gasoline-powered counterparts.

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