Time for islandwide motorcycle safety

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, March 17, 2017

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A training workshop by Sandals to reach motorcycle riders and passengers has been held in Negril — one of the most motorcycle-populated areas in the island. Whatever else might be occurring in other parishes, you have to work hard to equal Westmoreland in bike numbers. Major and minor roads reverberate with the buzzing sound of the bikes all over the parish, which could well be dubbed "Motorcycle Racetrack".

It took me quite a while to get used to it, the last time I visited "Sav" (the popular abbreviation of Savanna-la-Mar). It is easy to be totally confused by the constant "bees buzz" sound as the vehicles rush by, especially in the tourist mecca of Negril, where "bike back" is the major form of transportation for tourists and natives alike.

The little, but lethal machines tear along the main thoroughfares and the various side roads, night and day, at breakneck speed. It is almost scary to see how many passengers there can be on the back of one bike, all without protective headgear.

Many of the bikes carry more than one passenger — man, woman and pickney wedged together on the pillion. All part of the safety requirements not regularly observed. Interestingly, these can be as overcrowded as a public passenger vehicle. Do not be surprised, however, to see bags and baggage being transported at the same time, wedged in behind the driver. Heavy luggage is not supposed to be there too, but who can stop them? The more the bikes, the more the urgency for good sense.

One would assume that drivers of motorcycles would see the reason for rules and proceed with caution as they traverse the roads of the communities in which they live or visit. For some time now, the police in areas like Sav and Negril have been battling with the disorder caused by bike operators who have brought trouble down upon their communities and themselves because of acts of disorder.

The intervention of the Sandals organisation now seeks to get motorcycle riders to show more good sense in handling the bikes properly, making them more capable of serving their community and their owners. Instead of being instruments of destruction, due to careless handling, the objective which must continue is for bike owners to be trained in road safety and respect for themselves and the lives of others who look to bikes as a vital part of community transportation. Properly used, there should be no problem. To do otherwise — speeding, overloading and general recklessness — can bring disaster down on everyone.

It is in that spirit, that Sandals Resorts International has taken up the challenge of training motorcyclists how to use the road sensibly and keep their vehicles in good order. Statistics reveal an alarming number of fatalities and injuries, causing people to "hold dem head and bawl", as the elders would say. Now that Sandals has set the example for training, it is full time that a campaign of "safe biking" be put into operation islandwide.


It must be very sexy to ride hugging the back of the guy you love, holding on tight to him as together you weave in and out of the traffic with you seated as you are on the pillion, smug in your safety helmet, passing close enough to take the paint off the late-model car in the next lane. As you swing and sway between the vehicles, as boyfriend picks up speed to demonstrate ‘who’s in charge’, we hope you have the good sense by now to coax boyfriend not to take unnecessary chances. You don’t need bike-back danger.

Clinging to boyfriend’s waist as he ploughs through the traffic with vehicles rushing on either side is challenge enough. Get real, Sister, get real! Remind boyfriend that both of you need to understand the value of road safety, accept it and put it to practice.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or




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