2 Sí

2 Sí

Back in April the Guatemalan government, following the lead taken by Colombia and Venezuela some years ago, issued the Ley de Transito-Motocicletas decreto 105-2009 (PDF file) which, simply stated, stipulates one person per motorbike.

At the time 6 out of every 10 murders in Guatemala were reportedly being carried out by gunmen on two wheels.

Bike owners were given exactly two months to equip themselves with a standard reflective waistcoat on the rear of which the registration number of their vehicle had to be clearly emblazoned. It also had to be stuck onto the back of their helmets — which for many must have meant acquiring this particular protective headgear for the first time.

For some, security’s (and safety’s) gain has been the economy’s loss, particularly the economy of families who liked to get around en masse on their moto. There have been huelgas de motociclistas (biker strikes) in various parts of the country and opponents of the new law can sign up for a Facebook cause called ‘Súbete a mi moto Guatemala‘ — Get on my bike Guatemala!

Now some of you may have noticed a patchier observance of this mandate here in La Antigua Guatemala. I’ve asked around and have been told that in fact, while the individualised helmet and waistcoats are still compulsory here, it is only in the eight administrative districts of Guatemala City that are you likely to attract the hefty Q1000 ($120) fine for carrying a passenger on your bike. I have to say I’m not entirely sure about this, and by the look of things I’m not alone.

This pic shows a pile of courier’s helmets at Domino’s Pizza just before closing time. One things for sure, the “30 minutos o gratis” decree is still very much in force here.

text and photo by Guy Howard.

© 2009 – 2013, Guy Howard. All rights reserved.

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  • Erick

    Does anyone know if the number of murders have actually decreased since this law went into effect in Guatemala? I’m curious to see what the overall impact was.

    When I was a kid, I remember seeing two adults and two kids per bike, how were they able to fit there? No se, but they managed.

  • Guy

    see this discussion thread on how much good it did in Venezuela and Colombia..

    http://es.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090413070350AAACtMo

  • Santiago

    It seems like the LAG or PNC cops are not really enforcing any part of the law here…at least not effectively. There are many bikers using only the vest, a few using both vest and helmet, and many more with neither. I am one of the ones currently only wearing my vest. I know, I should be wearing a helmet for safety if nothing else. Will probably try to get used to it. I do have one.

  • David

    I think the law is quite useless and senseless. I live here and have for the past 12 years. Crimes commited on two wheels are hit and still continue to be. The law will not stop it.
    Think of all the poor families that need to take their child to school because they cannot pay for a bus and no cannot. Think of the families that do not have cars and motos were their only mode of transportation. Once again the poor suffer and the elite continue on, since they only own Harley’s and BMW speed bikes and use them to ride outside the city where the law is not in acceft anyway

  • David

    hit”s” no”w” affect
    Sorry folks my keyboard needs adjusting

  • 30 minutes or free has never applied to me. Not sure if it’s the Gringo factor or that I live south of 9th Calle.

  • Guy

    It’s worked for one of my neighbours on numerous occasions (badly signposted house!) and I think we live further out.