Our transport woes
HAVE YOU NOTICED that with schoolchildren on vacation, there is easier vehicular passage, even during the rush and busy times.
As a people, we appear to have an interest in having schoolchildren travel from St Lucy to St Michael and, vice versa, to attend some favoured school. Yet, we are told that the teachers at each school are equally qualified, even if we have reasons to conclude that some of them are not capable.
When I worked at the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) in the Traffic Management Department, I pondered the sense of keeping thousands of copies of the Highway Codes stored in cupboards, which some drivers do not see or for which they do not have access. It would make sense to have these codes available, to be given to each person who takes the initial tests, renews road tax or applies for a driver’s licence.
At roundabouts, a simple understanding of how to use these junctions would be helpful.
By the way, England has over 12 000 roundabouts and one rule or regulation that governs each. We in Barbados have upwards of about 30 roundabouts and the appearance is that we have as many as 30 regulations. This needs to change, urgently.
It does not matter how many entries/exits each roundabout has, there is only one correct method to use each: slow down on approach to the exit, and be prepared to give way to any traffic to your right and already in the roundabout.
On a roundabout entry, signal your intention and proceed only if your progress is not retarded by other passenger or vehicular traffic.
Flyovers that divert traffic from where they are to as close to where they want to get, would be advantageous. Not merely moving traffic from one point to another, along the same route.
A clear policy that measures passenger needs and conforms to the same, would assist public transportation. One of the reasons why people buy really expensive private vehicles is simply because there is no credible public transportation policy that assists any, other than the operators.
For public transportation to work, it must be seen to assist the passengers, the operators – public or private – and recognise that other road users matter and are not to be impeded. I am not convinced that in our deliberately selfish society, any system other than a comprehensive public one will work; only because of the many social ramifications attached thereto.
Structural planning that incorporates time frames, which states when a public transporter is to arrive and leave a terminus, bus stop, with proper directions posted at each, would be helpful to the public.
For example, half-hour time frames between 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.; 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to and from terminals; hourly to two-hourly time frames at other less busy commuter times, up to midnight. When the 24-hour work week commences, those times will be catered for, no doubt.
If there is a credible plan that fits the present and future plans, we should expedite its implementation.
We should be careful with the use of words like “merge” when dealing with roundabouts. This will work if one is entering a main road from a side road.
I do not have much time for the gender argument, except to suggest some people do not appear to know for what purpose the brake pedal is used.
As for bicycles, you need to visit a city like Cambridge, near the university in England. You would be forgiven for thinking there are more bikes than people. On the question of universities, have you ever questioned why, at Cave Hill, there is a sign suggesting “slow moving traffic should occupy the left lane” and elsewhere it seems that it does not matter which lane one occupies and at what speed; we may overtake or drive slowly, without let or hindrance.
Maybe, those in the vicinity of the university need to be taught but, elsewhere, anything goes. Mind you, according to the Road Traffic Act, we drive on the left hand side of the road, other than when overtaking or turning right.
• Rev. Malcolm A. Gibbs-Taitt is consumer analyst at the Barbados Consumers Research Organisation Inc.