The Barbados Cycling Union is working tirelessly to ensure that three tragic road deaths earlier this year will not be in vain, prompting swift and meaningful responses from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources.
On Tuesday morning, road safety advocates and ministry officials unveiled the first of many road signs alerting motorists to their duty to maintain a distance from cyclists of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking.
At the site of the first sign on Black Rock Main Road, St. Michael, transport minister Ian Gooding-Edghill declared that cyclists are among the most vulnerable of road users. He, however, called on operators of larger vehicles to assist in the creation of a more equitable environment.
“We cannot, in the interest of general public safety, allow ourselves to believe and operate on the misguided belief that might is right based purely on size, weight, speed, power, and even cost. The prevailing attitude of road users should be that our equality as human beings extends to our use of our roads, which are public facilities and therefore belong to all of us in equal measure,” Gooding-Edghill contended.
“My responsibilities for transport and works as minister have placed me in an advantageous position of recognising and appreciating the competition that takes place every day on our roadways. This competition is intensified by the limitations of space imposed by the relative natural smallness of our island home.
“So while we are forced to admit that there is nothing right now that we can do to change the physical restraints, as reasonable and responsible citizens, we are therefore required to exhibit and create the right attitudes of cooperation, tolerance and patience toward all road users and on this occasion, we are focusing on bicyclists,” he added. According to Gooding-Edghill, 11 signs would be unveiled on Tuesday and in the coming weeks on “every street and corner”.
Ritre Alleyne, 21; Melanie Watts, 36 and 63-year-old former West Indies cricketer, Ezra Moseley all perished in March of this year in road traffic accidents whilst cycling. The tragedies prompted calls from the Barbados Cycling Union for more urgent action.
Union president, Charles Lynch revealed that since the tragedies, motorists appear to be more mindful of cyclists.
“It is unfortunate that it had to take three road deaths in Barbados for people to realise that we are part of society and have a right to be on the roads of Barbados,” Lynch told Barbados TODAY.
Acknowledging that the implementation of bicycle lanes is not practical based on the existing road infrastructure, he urged MTW officials to ensure that bicycle safety becomes a greater feature on the curriculum for persons seeking driver’s licences. Lynch also revealed that the union intends to implement a programme that prepares children to manoeuvre the country’s roads.
“What we have realised after the last road death, there has been a marked difference in terms of respect for cyclists on the road… We just want to keep it in people’s minds. We don’t want any more fatalities involving cyclists so we are just asking the public to be patient with us. When you see us on the road, respect us and we will follow the rules of the road. We keep telling our cyclists to make sure they are always wearing their helmets and always make hand signals,” the cycling union president added. (KS)