Keith Bacongco

Temporary ban on motorcycle passengers will harm mobility in Honduras

After a string of high-profile shootings, legislators in Honduras have passed a law banning passengers on motorcycles.

Passengers on motorcycles have been blamed for the drive-by shooting deaths of a former government security adviser and a prominent journalist and her driver earlier this week, according to this article from the BBC. The Honduran Congress passed the ban in hopes of preventing more drive-by motorcycle murders in the country. With 82 murders per 100,000 people, Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, according to the BBC article.

The measure, which will last for six months, was requested by President Porfirio Lobo, whose government is facing rising crime.

"We know it is going to affect a certain part of the population," congressman Erick Rodriguez was quoted as saying by El Heraldo newspaper.

This seems to be the most important element of this ban: who it will affect. Motorcycles and scooters are a common mode of transportation in Honduras, and typically carry more than one person – often way more. On a trip through the country a few years ago, I saw entire families packed onto the backs of dirt bikes careening through Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and the country roads in between. And while cars certainly make up the majority of the traffic on the clogged urban streets of the big cities in Honduras, motorcycles are – as in many developing countries – a major ingredient of road traffic.

Banning multiple riders on motorcycles seems to hit the lower-income segment of the population hard. These are people who likely rely on the motorcycle or dirt bike as the sole vehicle for their entire family. Not allowing them to couple trips will likely put a strain on families’ abilities to get where and what they need. While preventing drive-by murders is a noble goal, it seems that this ban on motorcycle passengers will be more effective at preventing regular people from getting around.

Photo credit: Keith Bacongco/Flickr

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