Road safety scapegoating

VSB has finally launched a website. However, I think they're better off taking it down until they actually have some content. That is, pages that weren't written by someone just learning HTML and playing with funky colour palettes... anyway.

Let's see. We had some major road traffic incidents recently, some with catastrophic results. However I don't like the knee-jerk reaction to these as far as their responses having nothing to do with curbing Bermuda's driving culture.

First, a young man was killed when the bike he was on as a passenger was in a traffic collision. Immediately, everybody's saying that we need to curb the rights of young riders.

Then, a visiting woman from the U.S. dies as a result of striking a truck while on her rental cycle. Now, it's everybody saying that we need to be more stringent when it comes to renting bikes. Some have gone far enough to call for the ban of rental bikes to visitors.

Meanwhile, every freaking day we have actual residents who are *not* 16 years old, involved in these so-called "accidents". We have guys overtaking BUSES around CORNERS and striking BUSES from the other direction. What now?

The Road Safety Council, Government and the people at large don't seem to understand. It's not one particular group of road users who are causing all these collisions and forcing our insurance payments through the roof, among other things. It is residents of Bermuda who are doing all this foolishness on the roads.


The Uterus Excuse

I am reading the Opinion column in the Gazette today and see this interesting letter supporting the Regiment conscription policy.

It's full of feel-good terms like duty and pride, the kind of thing that could inspire people to join an organisation devoted to serving Bermuda. Whether doing the parade march qualifies as such, I don't know.

But later, and admittedly she says it's humour-based, she counters the belief that the draft policy is gender-biased by saying that until men have babies, why should women have to serve?

It's irksome.

As an analogy, would you therefore support a business that pays women less money than men because they're likely to have babies, go on leave and therefore impact the company's bottom line? You can't have it both ways. Either men and women should be treated as equals or we should revert to the 1940s or so.


Dissecting the Road Safety Council's Recommendations

I'm happy that the Minister of Transport has received recommendations from the Road Safety Council on how to reduce traffic collisions including road traffic fatalities. While some of these amendments may serve to help in the future, several of them don't seem to be able to address the current culture of recklessness™ currently occurring on Bermuda's roads:
  • A graduated licence scheme for all new auxiliary cycle riders
    - I'm assuming this is where 16 year olds who pass their written and practical tests are first only allowed to ride with no passengers and only during set hours, before graduating to carrying passengers and then no limits on hours of day on the road. Okay, I suppose. Doesn't affect current riders in any way, however.

  • the project ride programme increasing from 11 to 20 hours of instruction
    - Again, this is probably needed and will help the kids who get their licence. No effect on current riders or those who didn't take Project Ride and learned from their buddies (and whatever bad habits they may have instilled).

  • going from one to two written exams being required before a person gets their licence
    -I have the feeling that this is being approached the wrong way. The written test isn't the issue, it's people choosing to run red lights and ignore use of indicators, things that can only be seen via a practical test. It may be more effective to have some kind of riding simulation where riders have to approach simulated traffic signs and make decisions from there, to see if they're ready for real-world riding.

  • novice riders in their first year will not be able to tow pillion passengers; novice riders cannot ride after 11 p.m.; and, must bear a specific licence plate that will indicate that they are a novice rider
    - Here's the deal. It's been suggested that young riders have less focus when they have a passenger, and I'd tend to agree with that sentiment. The 11pm time seems arbitrary at best, I don't know how someone came up with that time to ban young riders from use of the roads. As for having a special licence plate, the message that sends to other motorists is what? Be extra careful because there's a guy who may not be familiar with the roads? Our rental cycles which often go to tourists have special plates; Bermuda's drivers don't seem to treat them with kid gloves. I would expect that this recommendation would also apply to guest workers; which could pose questions about for example not allowing a guest worker to ride carrying his spouse and forcing them to get two bikes.
I don't have access to the complete list of recommendations, so I can't say for sure if this is the entire index. What I'm disappointed in here is that nowhere listed is anything about the current crop of drivers. The fact remains that it's not just the young teenagers who are getting involved in these collisions.

This weekend (what made the Gazette; there were other incidents).
Friday in the Gazette.
From Tuesday's Gazette.

Seriously, the guy who weaves in and out of traffic, up hills and around corners, and forcing others to take immediate evasive action, is not affected by these recommendations in the slightest.

The taxi driver with his large Mercedes cab who cuts off drivers while having their high beams AND freaking fog lights on simultaneously, no change in their driving habits.

The person in their tinted-window car with sound system blaring and cell phone patched to one ear who flies through red lights and pedestrian crossings won't even flinch if this policy is implemented.

However, at least I'm encouraged by the idea that this is something that may actually be discussed in depth in Parliament soon.


Black History Month: irrelevant in Bermuda

I had meant to talk a bit about this a while ago but better late than never, I guess. Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler outlined reasons why the adopted American concept of it was not applicable to Bermuda, primarily the fact that Bermuda has a majority of persons of African descent living here. Why shouldn't Bermuda have 'black history' tributes all year round, for example?

While we all know our news media is more American than Bermudian/British (why the devil are their dates put in the American format, anyway?), they utilize the American Black History Month concept to profile people and events (and get lots of advertising as well, of course) so that it seems as if the island was pretty much in support of the concept. I don't know if a poll has been commissioned yet but it would be interesting to see what it would turn up.

When it comes to Bermuda history (expanding this a bit) our news media overall does its part, I suppose. Perhaps it's not enough, but it's a worthy debate. Our TV stations air shows like 'Treasures' every now and then and I believe that our newspapers, such as Mid Ocean News, devote reading space to historical events and people. But I think it may be worthwhile to challenge the mass media overall to devote regular space (at least weekly, some groups probably already do this) to highlighting and recognising events and people who have contributed whether it be education, community works, sports, what have you. It's an idea.


return of Daylight Savings

I think that the best thing that US President George W. Bush did was to push up the start date for implementing Daylight Savings Time. It's just so nice to leave work and get home and it's still sunny out. Well done, Mr. President (and the leaders of Bermuda for following suit, naturally).


Horse crap on the roads

While I was riding behind Bermuda's favourite commercial vehicle today (it must be on special Sunday privileges, heh) I found myself having to weave around large piles of horse crap. Literally. Big loads of the stuff. I noticed that one set had already been run through so I feel sorry for the poor soul whose vehicle now smells like a septic tank.

Why is it that we allow horses to defecate on Bermuda's roads with no regard to what other drivers and pedestrians have to deal with? While admitting that such a change could eventually lead to it being translated to dogs crapping along the railway trails, etc., owners of these animals ought to be liable for this. If Corporation of Hamilton can mandate that horses leading carriages must wear diapers then Government at large should do the same for horses on public roads (and the railway trail too).


No surprise in conscription fight

The Regiment policy of conscription was declared to be legal, surprising nobody. It seems as though the ruling will be appealed, but I think that with the general public tending to support the current method of populating the Regiment, the whole thing is doomed to failure.

What's funny is that although the Chief Justice ruled that in his view, reasonable efforts have been made to recruit volunteers, I still haven't seen a single newspaper ad, TV commercial, or distributed flyer aimed at recruiting volunteers to the Regiment. Maybe he's seen something that I haven't.


Road safety: lather, rinse, repeat

Bermuda lost more lives this weekend via the road. It's especially tragic because one of the victims was a high school student. The time for grieving is now, and not playing the game of what should've been done differently, etc. Condolences to the friends and families of these two men.

Anyway the Police and the Road Safety Council appear to be planning another so-called education initiative on road safety in the wake of these incidents. I think that it's money wasted. We've gone through this time and time again. Our response is a weak "everybody please be careful" plea to the public when clearly it doesn't go through. Every weekend there are at least fifteen collisions. And it's treated by everyone as though it's no big deal, like the freaking tides or waning of the moon.

Policy needs to be different. Government needs to stop ignoring this Culture of Recklessness™ and put the proverbial teeth into stopping our out-of-control driving habits from causing more wreckage. Operation Safer Streets seems to be a start, although I've yet to see personally anybody pulled over by the police for running a red light or stop sign or dangerous driving. The time for pleading should be over, it should be time to raise the fines, book people for violating the laws of the road, put cops in places besides East Broadway rush hour (Par-la-ville and Church Street seems like a good start) and send a message that bad driving shouldn't be tolerated by actually revoking people's licences and impounding the vehicles when necessary.