Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 21st 2015 Contents MARTINE POWERS
It s been three months since the
Ministry of Works and Infrastruc-
ture began its campaign to encour-
age motorists to yield the innermost
lane to cyclists on the road sur-
rounding Queen s Park Savannah.
And though bicycle enthusiasts
applauded the effort when it was
announced, many are reporting that
the measure has not done much to
improve their experience of safety
on the road.
I posted a survey through my blog,
Bad Drive Trinidad, on local cycling
enthusiast Facebook pages and asked
for it to be sent out to Trinidad s
online cycling community to get an
insight into the effects of the traffic
measure. Participants were asked the
following question: "Since the March
1 debut of a part-time bike lane
around the Savannah, do you feel
safer riding your bike?"
Of the 111 respondents, almost
exactly half of them answered "I feel
about the same as I did before."
Another 37 per cent said "I feel a
little bit safer." Only four per cent
said "I feel much safer," and about
six per cent answered that they felt
"a little bit less safe" or "a lot less
The initiative to help keep cyclists
safe around the savannah primarily
involved the use of signs on the
streets leading toward the savannah
that indicate the times of day when
cars must move out of the innermost
lane if they encounter cyclists---week-
pm to 10.30 pm, and on weekends
and holidays from 5 am to 9 am.
When the signs became active in
March, hundreds of cyclists---along
with Minister of Works Suruj Ram-
bachan and Minister of Sport Brent
Sancho---gathered to celebrate the
new accommodations for people who
ride bikes in Port-of-Spain.
Officials said the measure was put
in place in part as a response to a
series of crashes involving bicycles
that had occurred on the Savannah
in recent years.
"One too many cyclists has lost
their life on the road," Rambachan
said at the ceremony. "The major
appeal I d like is to the motorists, to
observe the signs we have here, and
to give way to the cyclists."
At the time, a spokesman for the
Works Ministry, Tiffany Richards
added that the intention of the signs
was to "prevent motorists from
squeezing the cyclists." She went on
to say, "I m not sure that our culture
inculcates that respect for cyclists
on the road, so we need to reinforce
it."But even with the signs in place,
cyclists reported that they frequently
experienced "close calls" while riding
around the savannah---even during
the posted bike lane hours.
Within last month s cycling survey,
participants were asked how often
vehicles pass close enough "to make
you uncomfortable or anxious" while
they have ridden bikes around the
Savannah in recent months.
Forty-nine per cent said that those
stress-inducing "close calls" hap-
pened "multiple times during every
ride around the Savannah."
Another 29 per cent said a car
passes too close for comfort "at least
once during every ride around the
And though the signs protect
cyclists who traverse the ring road
during popular cycling hours, bike
riding may be just as popular during
other times of day.
Almost as many people said they
bike around the savannah on week-
days from 4 pm to 8 pm---hours that
are not covered by the new provi-
sions---as those who bike during the
advised bike lane evening hours of
8.30 pm to 10.30 pm.
It s not surprising that the modest
signage put in place around the
savannah has not resulted in signif-
icant in motorists habits, said Trevor
Townsend, transportation engineer
and professor at the University of
the West Indies, St Augustine.
Though the signs and accompa-
nying public awareness campaign
indicate that cars "must yield to
cyclists," those regulations are simply
traffic advisements and are not cod-
ified in the nation s driving laws---
which means they have no punitive
teeth, Townsend said. Drivers cannot
be given a ticket or arrested for driv-
ing in the "bike lane" too close to a
Townsend said the positive effects
of the "bike lane" measure has also
been modest because of the existence
of parking spaces on the strip of
asphalt closest to the pavement. Cars
constantly drive in and out of the
spaces---and sometimes park on
stretches of roadway where they have
been banned---and they re bound to
clash with cyclists using the inner-
Instead, he said, he had an alternate
idea: Build a bike lane on the inside
of the savannah.
"Perhaps we need to explore a
cycling track within the Savannah,"
Continues on page B4
SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015
...Queen's Park Savannah bike lane prompts few benefits, survey says
Fourth from left, Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan, Community Development Minister Winston
Peters and partly hidden, Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed about to take a ride around the Queen's Park Savannah.
Cyclists ride around the Queen's
Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on
March 1, when the cycling lane
was officially opened that
morning. PHOTOS: JEFF MAYERS
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