Responding to citizen complaints, the city councils of Quito and Guayaquil are considering new regulations that would allow municipal police to fine and arrest motorcyclists. Public complaints are also mounting in Cuenca, Riobamba and Manta.
As the result of several murders and hundreds of thefts by motorcycle-riding assailants, Guayaquil has already passed an ordinance that restrict the hours in which motorcycles are allowed to carry a passenger. “This is effective in reducing serious crime but it does not address public safety issues,” says Gustavo Sanchez, an employee of the Guayaquil municipal council. “Since 2014, we have experienced a 250 percent increase in injuries due to careless driving by operators of motorcycles. Unfortunately, it is often pedestrians who are getting hurt.”
At a hearing in Quito, residents complained of motorcyclists who routinely break the law. “They drive wherever they want, between lanes of cars, over the curbs onto sidewalks, and they ignore traffic signals,” says Kathy Lara. “I have seen two accidents in which pedestrians were hit by motorcycles, one an elderly man who was hit in the cross walk when he had a green light and another on the sidewalk.”
In Guayaquil, Melina Polanco described a recent case on a morning talk radio show. “The driver was weaving in and out of traffic and when he couldn’t go any further on the street, he went on the side walk,” she said. “He was going fast and people on the side walk were jumping out of his way. He almost hit a small child.”
According to Polanco, the problem is lack of enforcement. “The laws are already passed so why aren’t the police enforcing them? Why don’t they make drivers of motorcycles follow the same rules as drivers of cars? I blame the police.”
Sanchez agrees and said the Quito mayor’s office has requested a meeting with transit police officials. “What we don’t want is a situation like you see in Colombia,” he said. “In Medellin, they call them motorcycle terrorists for the way they drive and there are many streets there and in Bogota where pedestrians don’t even try to cross due to the danger. We must act now so Ecuador does not become another Colombia.”