According to the ride-hailing company, “Government guidelines on motorcycle safety requires us to ensure small bikers with small bikes are not paired with passengers they may not be able to ferry.”
You can also read this disclaimer on Angkas’ safety reminders which state that drivers may deny your booking because of your weight.
The reactions to the weight rule have been mixed. Some understand the need for this rule, while others were dismayed because Angkas has made it harder for them to get home (especially with Grab’s overpriced fares).
Angkas has had this rule in place since June 2019, as seen on their Facebook page and the notices clipped on riders’ vests (if you use Angkas, you might have seen this). They have also released a statement explaining that the addition of the Weight Safety Check was based on their discussions with the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
But let’s still try to unpack how this rule can be discriminatory and can promote fat-shaming.
Why did Angkas set a weight restriction?
First, we have to look at the reason why Angkas drivers may deny people of a certain weight range. In their app, it says that this is to provide “a safer riding experience” and for Angkas to “match you with the right biker.”
Let’s get into some math for a sec: According to New Touring Rider, a motorcycle can carry a weight of 350 to 450 lbs. The first rule to ensuring that a bike can carry both driver and passenger is to find the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the manufacturer’s recommended maximum total weight that the vehicle can carry. (This can be found in the bike’s manual.) Next is finding the “wet” weight of the motorcycle, or how much it weighs when it has a full tank.
The wet weight is subtracted from the GVWR to get the ideal carrying capacity of a motorcycle.
Angkas may simply be adhering to these rules to ensure that both the driver and passenger can get to a destination safely. But does that excuse the discriminatory nature of the weight range indicator and drivers cancelling on people who weigh more? Nope.
Why is it an issue?
Angkas has always marketed itself as the best alternative to ride-hailing services like Grab because you can get to your destination fast at reasonable prices. This is why loyal users have been fighting to #SaveAngkas when the government imposed a biker limit last December, which cost the jobs of 17,000 accredited bikers.
But just like any service, Angkas isn’t perfect. Knowing a passenger’s weight may be a safety precaution, but the weight range indicator might also impose the idea that people on the heavier side might have a harder time using the app’s services.
The interagency technical working group Motorcycle Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run also clarified that they didn’t order Angkas to deny rides to “heavy passengers.” Consultant Alberto Suansing said in a DZMM interview, “During the discussion namin sa kanila, ang sinasabi namin dapat they should be able to carry their passengers safely.”
Angkas said their goal is “to ensure all bookings match you with the most appropriate bike and biker” to prevent any kind of inconvenience. But who’s to say that bikers won’t discriminate passengers once they see the weight range that was inputted? There are already some netizens saying they’re getting multiple cancellations because of the restriction.
This could easily be used as a way to discriminate people’s bodies, treating them like second-class customers because they don’t have an “ideal” weight. Just look at these netizens joking that they need to diet just to get an Angkas ride.
ANGKAS has set a weight safety check. “Heavy” passengers may be denied. Yet another reason for some of us to diet.
The traffic situation in Metro Manila is already bad enough, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is feel hopeless (once again) over another ride-hailing app that can’t get them home because it can’t accommodate them. If Angkas really wants to properly implement the Weight Safety Check, they should make sure there are bikers and motorcycles that can cater to all passengers. They should also educate bikers to not discriminate against passengers based on weight and to give a clear, respectable explanation as to why they’re cancelling rides.
Likewise, the government should help the ride-hailing app in improving its services and giving jobs to more bikers (instead of pushing administration-owned apps like Joyride PH). Or, you know, actually fund the public transport system so we wouldn’t have to deal with terrible traffic and price surges on a daily basis.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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