My last road abuse post for a while

The powers that be have repeated the same ol' "Slow down" mantra for so long...

Meanwhile I've dedicated too much time complaining about the same thing and need to move on. Now that road safety's fixed on Bermuda's radar (albeit years too late), maybe concrete solutions will be implemented. There are plenty of them, if you read the Gazette's Letters section. The Bermuda blogs are full of ideas. From Longtail to Vexed to 21 Square as well as the Sucks forum, there are important observations and suggestions that should be looked at.

One recurrent theme in the arena of suggestions is having more of a law enforcement presence on the roads. I'm not sure who was the first to point it out but it's very true as far as Bermuda's drivers are concerned:
Drivers are more afraid of getting caught by the Police than getting into a traffic collision.
That's the answer. "Slow down, be careful" is not working. The powers that be still don't understand. We have a Culture of Recklessness. Look at this PrimeTarget story. Most likely this fella was drunk and or already off-the-road. He abandoned his injured passenger and tried to evade Police.

Just today, at the intersection of Par-la-ville and Church, lights were red and the pedestrian walk sign was about to go off. A bike rider, BC859, runs the light (funny enough he then stops at the light where Bermudiana Road meets Church Street). Every day you see this happen. Weekends, free-for-all. No police presence.

No, we probably don't have the resources to patrol the place more. However, we have technology. Legislate the use of cameras and implement them. Clear the backlog of paperwork and let officers patrol the streets more. Maybe even grant traffic wardens the ability to book traffic offenders. Grant more sweeping powers when it comes to detaining offenders, impounding vehicles. Increase the fines for traffic offenses. Be more stringent when renting cycles (to both tourists *and* locals). Turn the lights on at the Warwick Academy, Whitney and Southampton Primary crossings. Raise the pedestrian crossings throughout the island. And for pete's sake, take a stand on cell phones and ban their use and stop skirting the issue.

Solutions are there. Tangible, logical and realistic solutions. They're there.


The mindset of a reckless rider, maybe

Booking AW390 for overtaking a line of traffic including near a corner. I think that the attention given by the Road Safety Council to the road safety issues of late has raised awareness somewhat this week among a small sector of the population, but there's going to be a large sector that frankly isn't going to give a crap about gimmicks and stuff when they know there's a line of traffic, they like to speed (and look 'cool') and they're comfortable in the belief that the other drivers will make way for their aggressive driving, and that there won't be any punishment lurking in the form of officers, video cameras or an unforseen tragedy.


Road Safety Council's fearlessness

So after all the promise of useful action, they've stuck to the curfew for teenagers suggestion, in the end. Because a 17-year old riding at 10:30pm is that much less of a safety risk than one at 11:15pm. Of course, I had thought the Road Safety Council was going to address the current situation on the roads, but it looks like instead we'll just write off this generation of motorists and cross our fingers that our youth will learn from the curfew and not what their older siblings or friends do instead. Yeah, right.

Project Ride may be expanded, but nothing was said about making it compulsory.

A bit of talk on wanting bars and restaurants to take responsibility for customers drinking too much, and rental cycle operators to standardise testing. Nothing approaching a concrete policy, mind you.

The chairperson said in her speech:
"This may be unpopular but we are not fearful of making it difficult decisions." (sic)
It's of course, past time to make the unpopular decisions. However the RSC hasn't made enough of them and Government hasn't acted on any of them. I'm quite disappointed, overall.

However I'm not disappointed at the awareness campaign launched today on the roads. I think it will send a message to at least some of the folks out there. It, however, needs to remain a fresh concept. Switch locations, signs, bring large wrecked cars out too, mix it up. And move the sign that says "I didn't use my car seat" from next to one of the bike wrecks. Thanks.


55 speeding tickets in one day?

Watching the ZBM news and the report of some 55 speeding tickets issued on Friday stunned me a little bit. I saw that the police were out and about Friday on the long stretches of road (of course they're not near corners and frequent accident spots, but that's another battle, another day), radar guns firing. It's interesting that they can only pull over people for speeding, not necessarily other offenses. For example, the law still says that headlights must be white, but we all see the cars and bikes with green, blue and other coloured headlights. Ah well.

What I didn't like was what the Premier (and Minister of Transport) was saying regarding needing to educate the public on unsafe driving. Sir, the time for education is over. It's been overdone. If there's no officers or traffic cameras about, people will run red lights, use 'third lanes' and speed without any worry. Focus needs to remain on enforcing the law that driving on the roads is a privilege, and removing the offenders from the road for a long time while hitting them in the pocket too.

It's Road Safety Week here right now, apparently. Hopefully the road collision rate will diminish at least for a short period.


Others weigh in on the Culture of Recklessness

It's hard for anyone to turn a blind eye now to the situation on Bermuda's roads. Some bloggers have addressed things already. Yesterday two respected Bermuda Sun columnists, Tom Vesey, and Stuart Hayward, posed what I thought were excellent musings on the situation and suggestions on how the problems can be addressed.

I especially appreciate the calling out of Government for encouraging use of larger cars and trucks on the roads. I think they need to take responsibility for not encouraging safer road use. The cell phone question is such a great example. It could have been addressed, but it hasn't and I don't think it will.

What's weird is that it was seemingly so easy to change the law to allow for vanity licence plates. Yet we can't get more important changes made. Sad.

More money for Gov TV

Fellow blogger Vexed Bermoothes expresses essentially the same thoughts that I have regarding all this spending on a cable television station.

And what is this all about?
Brown explained that "in-depth programming" of current issues in Bermuda is not being provided by commercial stations there, making a public TV station necessary.
Hello? What exactly are shows like Youth Talk, EnviroTalk, The Learnalots, and Treasures, then? Fluff? Now if Government provided subsidies for producing local TV shows to the broadcasting companies, maybe there would be even more.

Also, VB mentions the FreshTV situation as a comparison. Great paragraph.


Venting on agressive drivers

We have some very selfish and inconsiderate twits on our roads, simply put.

Riding this morning and from maybe two lengths back this car pulls to overtake a bunch of us. Recognising finally that another car was coming, he darts into the middle of the line, forcing me to slow down. If I had a car I don't think I would have done so, but I'm on the losing end of any collision with a car, obviously enough.

So as I express my frustration with having my life threatened, this cunt flips me off! Wished I had a rock to hurl at his head, to be honest. But it's twits like the driver of the white Hyundai 40014 that cause much of these 'accidents' with their thoughtless driving habits. These guys ae probably harder to take off the road than most, unfortunately - a police officer would have to be in the line of traffic and actually give a crap, unless an 'accident' actually occurred.


One blog reawakens, one news site goes into slumber

Not long after I gave the local political parties a mild reaming for not having updated content, the PLP blog seemed to reawaken and publish articles, most of which were really just press releases, although the most recent one (16 April) actually represents original reporting. But it represents something in terms of communicating with readers and potential members, so that's a positive.

However, it seems as though BNN, one of the upstart media groups in this country (and one that looks to benefit from the Government cutbacks towards the Gazette), has fallen into a slightly dormant state. Hopefully it's just a blip, but it may be worth observing.

Insight from Wayne Furbert

The MP for Hamilton Parish West, Wayne Furbert, who's a former leader of the UBP, pretty much laid out his honest beliefs on the future of the UBP and politics here.

It's deep and thoughtful, and sure to get interesting responses from many sections of Bermuda's political scene.

Harness ponies during morning commute

Was behind a line of traffic this morning on the way into work. Turns out a harness pony was on the road. Why are they allowed on the road during that time of day? Can I Book rider '217'?


Finally, action?

It's extremely overdue, and several lives have unfortunately been lost in the interim, but there's the actual prospect of action being taken by the Road Safety Council that's not lip service or the like being considered now.

I trust that they'll actually pay attention to the statistics and what members of the public are trying to say regarding what's wrong and what's needed to try to change the culture of recklessness(TM) when it comes to Bermuda's roads.

That means: no knee-jerk reactions to a teenager crashing and wanting to crackdown on all teen riders. No knee-jerk reactions to a tourist crashing and wanting to crackdown on all tourists who want to rent a scooter.

It means: focus on the things that are causing this chaos. Particularly:
  • driving under the influence
  • third-lane riding
  • total lack of using indicators
  • ignoring stop signs and traffic lights
  • failure of the public to understand protocol for intersections, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings
  • not paying attention to pedal cyclists and pedestrians particularly at corners
  • cell phone abuse, especially when combined with one of the above
Also, recognising finally that it's grown adults who are causing the majority of these incidents, not teenagers, not tourists, not the elderly. Grown men and women who live here.

What actions need to be taken?
  • Book people who violate any of the above. That means have officers at intersections in and outside of town prepared to ticket people, not just hanging at the end of East Broadway when traffic's at a crawl. Have checkpoints near Spice Valley or by the Reefs or Shelley Bay Park.
  • If someone's off the road already, quadruple the fine.
  • Get those video cameras up and active at those frequent accident spots. Legislate their use so that when someone breaks the law and causes an 'accident', they can be effectively spotted and prosecuted.
  • Speaking of fines, increase them. I hate the Gazette for screwing up their archive, but there was a report in January of 2007 that indicated that Police believes that people would rather keep paying the $50 fines than cut their speed.
  • Politicians need to set a freaking example and stop driving with bad habits, most notably cell phone abuse. Police officers driving shouldn't be honking at their buddies. Taxi drivers shouldn't be ambulance-chasing.
  • I don't have hope that this is going to have a major effect, but Dejon Simmons needs to be part of any campaign to alert the public on road safety. His story needs to be rebroadcast.
It's past time to take off the kid gloves. The Bermudian public at large is not listening to the pleas to drive with care. Take those who aren't, off our roads. The vehicles, too, if necessary. Oh, and let them know that prison awaits those who drive after being taken off, too.


Please slow down... yawn

More so-called accidents on the island recently. Nobody's blaming tourists or kids this time around. Of course, what hasn't changed is the response from the powers that be. Please slow down and pay attention, yadda yadda yadda.

The quote from the Police spokesperson goes: "the Bermuda Police Service in conjunction with the Road Safety Council is pleading with the motoring public to slow down on our roadways and obey the rules of the road."

Then he urged drivers not to use cell phones, iPods or dark visors as they could all cause a distraction.

How about instead of the standard reply, instead state firmly and categorically that drivers spotted using cell phones, particularly those with cellphones wedged into their helmets, face being pulled over by the cops and immediately being charged with driving without due care? Take a hard line. Don't make me have to repeat this post next month.


Free public transport day predictions

Tomorrow, Bermuda will be having a 'Burn Fat Not Fuel' Day and encourage people to leave their vehicles at home, forgoing them in exchange for walking, cycling or using public transport, which will be free of cost for the day.

It's a noble idea. With our high obesity rates, it's to be commended. But as far as a push to reduce the use of cars and bikes on the road, it's a weak gimmick that will be exposed easily enough tomorrow, I fear. It's more just to test Bermuda to see if they would embrace the government's free transport pledge they laid out at Election time.

Already the PTB is scared that they won't have enough buses available for the public. Peachy. One reason people don't like to take the bus is that they'll be in some congested and uncomfortable bus instead of enjoying a relaxing journey to the city to work. Oh well, there you go.

Also, last time they tried having some promotion for people to use the ferries more, people got parking tickets because there wasn't enough room to park their cars in the car park and they had to park on the street. Ferries have limits on number of passengers as well; imagine the wrath that people will feel if they're denied access and have to get back in their car anyway.

I expect that less people will be driving into town tomorrow, though. More likely, however, is that you'll see many people driving to certain spots closer to town, then choosing to walk in. So traffic into town will be eased, but just outside of town, return of gridlock.

Yep, totally pessimistic here, sorry.


Devil's Island Web blog/comic

I don't get to visit the Devil's Island much, partly because it's a site blocked from the office, but I got the chance to revisit recently.

It's morphed into Bermuda's first webcomic/blog/journal. A great inclusion to the local blogosphere, a bit off the beaten path. Anyway there's the first plug I've done in a while, and I enjoyed every second of it. Keep it up, UE.



We have a cost of high living too

Here's a great piece in the Nation News from Dawn Morgan, one of my favourite columnists:

"What some people mistake for the high cost of living is really the cost of high living."

Which one of those things is pulling at your purse strings? Perhaps both.

Indeed, we like the good life. We can probably get by on a Vitara or something, however we just gotta have the CR-V, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tuscon. The banks are easily willing to loan us the money as it's an easy win for them. So we end up in debt buying this vehicle that's depreciating in value every month we have it. That's life in Bermie.


Our local political websites

They both got problems right now.

The UBP one is trying to be cute with a collage of the elected MPs and senators but with the varying sizes of each person it looks totally amateur. Come on, get your guys together and take a proper photo or something.

As for the PLP, it's somewhat disturbing that not since 6 January has there been a news or opinion article posted there. Where's the communications, people?


Bigger and bigger profits

In the U.S., the heads of the big oil corporations are explaining to Congress why it's okay for them to make record profits and ask the government for billions more dollars in tax credits, while consumers feel serious pains in the pocket when it comes to buying fuel.

It's just not logical, is it? Record freaking profits. No benefit passed to the consumer. And they want subsidies from the government which gets tax monies from ordinary citizens.

It's completely easy to sympathize and support the Independent Truckers Association when they want to go on strike what with the rising costs of diesel. Impossible to feel anything but loathing for these oil execs and their crazy demands. Record profits. Wasn't the U.S. a free-market nation? Then let them go about their business.

Keeping up with the SDOs

Another one of those fractional ownership developments was just approved by Government and will be fast tracked. Honestly I don't know why the powers that be try to claim that they're for sustainable development when their mantra has been one of "if it requires a crane, let's approve the SDO" in recent years. We may as well repeal the whole Planning process, really, save a few bucks.

Vexed Bermoothes has an analysis here, and the fact remains that this development does not help small businesses, residents or the commuter. It however, will line the pockets of a select group of 'fat cats'.