Speed limit change to help make road pedestrian friendly
The speed limit on West Bay Road will be reduced to 30 miles per hour in an effort to curb the number of accidents along the busy stretch adjacent to Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman.
More pedestrian crossings and new signs to remind tourists which direction the traffic is coming from could also be introduced to make the road safer.
The speed limit change, which Cabinet ministers have said has been discussed for more than 20 years, is anticipated to coincide with the completion of road improvements in the area.
Authorities hope the majority of traffic will use the two-lane Esterley Tibbetts Highway, making West Bay Road a more “pedestrian friendly” zone.
A Canadian tourist, Dan Marce, died last week after being hit by a car outside the Lone Star Bar & Grill. There have been a handful of fatalities along the road during the past few years and hoteliers and businesses have been lobbying for new safety measures.
Jane van der Bol, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, said the organisation was pleased that the speed limit would come down.
“CITA has lobbied for that and we are pleased that it is going to happen,” she said. “We lobbied for more walkways and we got one in on The Strand, which is now fully operational. We are pleased to see that is completed with more to come. There is a need for more. The safety of our tourists is paramount.”
She added that simple measures such as a “look right” sign at key crossing points close to hotels would help remind tourists which direction the traffic was coming from.
“Signage is very important because the majority of our tourists come from the USA or Canada and they drive on the opposite side of the road. A few signs would make a huge difference,” she said.
Announcing major road developments along West Bay Road during last week’s media briefing, Cabinet Minister Cline Glidden said the road presented “significant challenges from a pedestrian standpoint”.
“We had a recent incident with a young child who was injured,” Mr. Glidden said. “We would also like to give condolences to the gentleman, who we were informed has lost his life in regards to the recent accident on West Bay Road as well. “We would like to further state the commitment of the government, on the opening of this road, to the reduction of the speed limit which will allow us to make West Bay Road as we know it much more pedestrian friendly,” he added.
Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland added that a reduction in the speed limit had always been part of the overall plan, saying it had been discussed for 25 to 30 years.
In the wake of the accident on 8 February, businesses in the area told the Caymanian Compass that more traffic calming measures would be welcome.
“It is a busy road and there is nothing there to assist you, you are on your own,” said Marcia Goodwin, supervisor at Gino’s Pizzeria, located next to Lone Star Bar & Grill. “Definitely there could be something done because there are a lot of restaurants on this stretch here and all the condos and hotels are on the other side. “Sometimes you see guests over there struggling for quite a while to cross.”
Fiona MacFarlane, co-manager at Coconut Joe’s further up West Bay Road, added: “It is sometimes difficult for customers to get across because it is a busy road and there is no pedestrian crossing.
“It’s not a huge issue for our customers, but it would be great to have a crossing near the main hotels to make things a little easier.”
Thomas Mason, general manager at the Comfort Suites hotel, said he would welcome new safety measures along the road but the decision should be made by experts in consultation with the businesses.
“It is a very busy road and with the extra disruption from the dig we should all have concerns because we don’t want to see anybody getting hurt.”
Tourists Mike and Julie Bowen, from Canada, said it could sometimes be frustrating trying to cross the busy road. Mr. Bowen said: “We came here last year and we found it hard to cross. I see they have put in a crosswalk since then so it is better. It’s still not great, but it’s better than it was.”