Online poll Cyclists need paths, but should still follow road rules

No matter what action authorities take to remediate the conduct of bicycle riders, most people believe something needs to be done and enforcement of traffic laws figures high on the list.

Public roads in the Cayman Islands should have designated bike paths, nearly half of respondents to a Caymanian Compass online poll agree.

Of the 591 readers who answered the poll, 294, or 49.7 per cent, called for cycle paths and for local traffic laws to be enforced. Nearly a quarter want offending cyclists to be prosecuted and fined, while 18.8 per cent of respondents said a public education campaign should be launched.

Less than 5 per cent felt that cyclists should be licensed and their bikes subject to inspections.

Cyclists are required to obey the same laws as any vehicle on the road, including use of turn signals, stopping at red lights and awaiting filter arrows, complying with stop signs, giving way to right-hand traffic at roundabouts and, most of all, driving on the correct side of the road.

Cayman Islands law requires motorcycle and scooter riders to wear helmets, but says little about bicyclists. Rarely does any cyclist other than a racer wear protective headgear.

All in all, Cayman’s Traffic Law mentions bicycles only a few times – and in a near-cursory fashion – but even those stipulations under the law are often ignored by the non-competitive cyclists in Cayman. The behaviour of errant cyclists on local roads drew the ire of many respondents to the poll.

One reader wrote: “Cycling on the wrong side of the road is something I don’t really understand. As a driver, it is the last thing you expect to see and so cyclists doing this really put themselves in harm’s way.

“But some motor vehicle drivers are also very disrespectful to cyclists (cutting them off, not leaving enough room when overtaking, etc.) and ultimately it is the cyclists who are facing the biggest risks on the roads from careless motor vehicle drivers.”

Another reader responded: “Don’t you think we need to do this in conjunction with motor vehicles as well? Get the Traffic Department back out enforcing the laws that are on the books.”

One reader said he recalled bicycles being licensed in the past, but did not necessarily agree with that. However, he felt all users should abide by the rules of the road and penalties should be issued as needed.

A former cyclist also gave input, saying: “I tried cycling for a while, but gave up for fear of my life. Roundabouts are scary enough in a car, but on a bike … sheesh …”

A reader who agreed that traffic laws should be followed pointed out that “motorists often drive in a manner in which legal cyclists are endangered. Paths would be the best answer and would also encourage traffic reduction”.

Another reader pointed out that many motor vehicle drivers are no saints on the road either, saying: “Very true that bicyclists seldom follow the road laws. So very true also that motorists seldom regard bicyclists (or pedestrians, for that matter) in the same way that they regard other motor vehicles. Everyone has the right to use the road, and all deserve the same respect regardless of their mode of transportation.”

This same point was raised by several other respondents, including one who wrote: “[Too] many motorists have absolutely no regard for bicyclists, [that’s] one of the reasons for riding on the wrong side of the road. It is the driver who should be re-educated in good [etiquette] with regards to cyclists on the road.”

One respondent also noted that Cayman is not the only country with a problem with cyclists ignoring the road code. “The US has had the same problem for ages and bike paths have been the only solution, even then they do not have regard for the joggers. Bicyclists believe they have right way on the roads, especially at red lights and stop signs.”

Another reader said he did not see the need for “prosecution” of cyclists who did not obey the rules of the road. “A fine will be fine … I’m sure the courts have better things to do,” the respondent wrote.

“They should pass the written Road Code rest before going on public roads, irrespective of age,” another respondent wrote.

A driver who responded to the poll had a simple and person response, “As long as they stay out of my way when and/or while I am driving, I could not care less.”

Next week’s poll question

Do you support hiring ex-cons?

Yes, hire them all. Everyone should get a second chance.

Yes, but only those convicted of lesser offences and not violent criminals.

Maybe, if they’ve gone through work training and rehabilitation programmes.

No, companies should not be forced to hire anyone they don’t want and can’t trust.

Other (write in comments).

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