Cebu e-scooter group offers to help gov’t

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | September 28,2020 - 01:36 PM
Cebu's growing e-scooter movement

In this January 10, 2020 photo, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera is seen driving an electric scooter during the Sinulog Festival 2020 launching parade.

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Medical frontliner and nurse Djan Dyll Ardiente has been relying on his electric scooter (e-scooter) for several months now.

Djan, who lives in D. Jakosalem Street here, decided to purchase last March an e-scooter when the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease was implemented and paralyzed public transportation.

“I was planning to buy a motorcycle but with the lockdown, getting a driver’s license would be too difficult. That’s why I bought an e-scooter,” Djan said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Since then, the 23-year-old nurse has been using his e-scooter as his personal mode of transportation, and he said he was really glad for making the decision.

“I usually spend around P200 a day going to and from work when I ride a taxi. But now that I’m driving an e-scooter, it helped me reduced my daily expenses,” Djan told CDN Digital in an interview.

He added that riding an e-scooter also cuts his travel time from the usual one hour to around 10 to 15 minutes between his house and his workplace situated in I.T. Park, Barangay Apas.

“When you ride a four-wheeled vehicle like a taxi, chances are you’ll get stuck in traffic, whereas in an e-scooter, you can just find small roads and shortcuts that will take you faster to your work, and without bumping into traffic,” he explained.

Cebu's growing e-scooter movement

Electric scooters parked in front of a building in Gonzalez Compound, Brgy. Kamputhaw, Cebu City CDN Digital Photo |  Morexette Marie Erram

CDN Digital met Djan in Gonzalez Compound in Barangay Kamputhaw last Saturday, September 26, 2020.

At that time, he was with several other Cebuanos who, like him, own and drive e-scooters to get them anywhere in Metro Cebu.

Sugbo Skooteros

Lately, the Cebu City Government warned individuals like Djan who use e-scooters on public roads that their vehicles could be impounded, and that they could be issued with citation tickets.

This after Mayor Edgardo Labella and the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) announced that they will be reinforcing a provision in the city’s Traffic Code that allegedly prohibits e-scooters to ply on the streets.

Labella, in earlier interviews, also said the decision is aimed to avoid scooter-involved accidents from happening on the roads and major thoroughfares in Cebu City.

READ MORE: Banning E-scooters from major thoroughfares, city roads is for safety of the public – Labella

The move received wide criticism and backlash from the public, citing the need for alternative modes of transportation due to ‘lack of public utility vehicles (PUVs)’ amid an ongoing public health crisis.

Read: Cebu City dad on ban of E-scooters: ‘It is untimely’

This prompted Sugbo Skooteros, a Cebu-based community that promotes e-scooters as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation, to initiate a plan to help riders like Djan.

Dr. Evanuelle Mendoza, one of the founders of Sugbo Skooteros, said their group is willing to help the city government regulate e-scooters if it meant not restricting riders using this two-wheeled vehicle for transportation purposes.

Cebu's growing e-scooter movement

Dr. Evanuelle Mendoza, founder of Sugbo Skooteros. CDN Digital Photo |  Morexette Marie Erram

“We’re not using e-scooters for leisure purposes. We’re using it as a mode of transportation that will help us travel from Point A to Point B”

“We met with (the head of CCTO) and proposed in helping with the regulation until there is a final draft (of guidelines on e-scooters) approved by the LTO (Land Transportation Office),” said Mendoza.

The doctor was referring to the pronouncement of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade saying that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is not keen on having mandatory registration for e-scooters and electronic bicycles (e-bikes) until the LTO will be issuing an official memorandum or guidelines in regulating such vehicles.

Mendoza said if local officials accept their offer, Sugbo Skooteros will be providing consultation and technical assistance to ensure the city’s roads will be safe and inclusive for e-scooter riders.

“We would like to work with the Cebu City Government, and we’re hoping they will accept our offer,” he said.

Sugbo Skooteros was created in 2019. According to Mendoza, it was an offshoot of a growing nationwide interest in having e-scooters as sustainable modes of transportation that could help reduce carbon footprint, and the number of gasoline-powered vehicles on the streets.

Among the primary functions of Sugbo Skooteros was to inform, educate, and train riders on the proper way to drive e-scooters, and the existing traffic rules and regulations.

“As a community, we police ourselves once we ride our e-scooters on the roads. All of us well understood the traffic regulations and safety measures needed while traversing the roads,” said Mendoza.

E-scooters and Pandemic

When the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) struck Cebu City earlier this year, and quarantine restrictions interrupted operations of PUVs, the number of Sugbo Skooteros members rapidly grew.

Mendoza said around 45 percent to 55 percent who joined their community were workers like Djan, fighting the pandemic on the frontlines.

“When they said they’re going to ban e-scooters, they were hitting not just a small community,” said Mendoza.

“We are up for regulation with the proper consultation. What we oppose is restricting someone to commute and traverse the road. This is why we want to work together with the government and let the public understand why this is a sustainable mode of transportation,” he added.

The group is contesting the city government’s claims that City Ordinance 801 or the Traffic Code of Cebu City banned coasters, roller skaters, and toy vehicles or similar devices in any roadway, except while crossing a street.

But Mendoza, quoting, initial findings from Sugbo Skooteros’ own legal team, said e-scooters do not fall into the category prohibited by Cebu City’s traffic code.

“We’re not using e-scooters for leisure purposes. We’re using it as a mode of transportation that will help us travel from Point A to Point B,” he explained.

In the meantime, Mendoza said their group is helping out their members on what to do in case a traffic enforcer in Cebu City flags them down for riding their e-scooters.

“A lot of our members have been asking us for clarifications. Our legal team is assisting them on what to expect and what to do when an enforcer tells them to pull over,” said Mendoza.

For Djan, the city government’s pronouncement was ‘not fair for now and untimely’. But it will not stop him, and Sugbo Skooteros for that matter, to ride their e-scooters to promote their advocacy as well as invite more people to join their community.

Cebu's growing e-scooter movement

Nurse and Sugbo Skootero member Djan Dyll Ardiente CDN Digital photo | Morexette Marie Erram

“It’s not fair for now, and untimely considering that people like me who needed an affordable means of getting from Point A to Point B while there is a pandemic going on. But I know what to say in case authorities will ask me why I’m riding an e-scooter. For me, the key is to continue in being a law-abiding rider that follows the proper traffic rules and regulations,” said Djan.

/bmjo

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TAGS: Cebu's growing e-scooter movement, City Ordinance 801, e-scooters, E-scooters movement, Sugbo Skooteros

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