Cayman conundrum: Why are our roads bumper-to-bumper?

Traffic is getting worse, and commuters who live in Grand Cayman’s eastern districts are moaning. Why?

We don’t currently have a definitive answer, but there’s no good reason for the matter of the perceived increase in vehicular congestion to remain anecdotal or forever a mystery.

Note: We speak of “perceived increase” in George Town–bound morning traffic (and the reverse in the evening) because, despite the similarity of stories residents related to Cayman Islands police Monday, officials have thus far not offered up quantifiable data demonstrating that a) average commuting times from Bodden Town to George Town, and back, are getting longer; or, b) the number of automobiles on that roadway has increased significantly in recent years.

In the absence of empirical evidence, we resort to recollections (“I remember when police presence posed a deterrence to speeders.”), secondary statistics (“The Bodden Town population grew by about 10 percent from 2010 to 2013.”) and educated guesswork (“Stricter enforcement of the Road Code and improvements to key transit corridors might alleviate the traffic problem.”)

In this case, this sort of calculus appeals to the common sense, and could very well be correct, but in regard to long-term infrastructure planning, it is insufficient.

However, regardless of whether residents’ concerns about increased traffic accidents and traffic jams are based on perception or reality, the very fact that so many eastern residents are complaining so much about traffic problems forms, by itself, a sufficient basis for the government to take action and make significant, targeted investments backed by hard information.

Put another way, if people in our country’s fastest-growing population centers are today lodging serious complaints about the inadequacy of our roadways — and this is before the full realization of developments such as Health City Cayman Islands, Ironwood, the Beach Bay resort and Cayman Enterprise City, as part of the greater economic boom we believe Cayman is about to experience — can you imagine how things are going to be 10 years from now?

Those who have lived in major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Miami and London will concur: Crowds, and crowded streets, are both signs and symptoms of economic prosperity. But incessant gridlock and ubiquitous auto accidents are also hallmarks of societies with a poverty of resources and a lack of vision. As evidence, we would observe that many of our Caribbean neighbors are little more than traffic jams resembling rush-hour parking lots.

While this Editorial Board often opposes the notion that any measure of “progress” in Cayman subtracts from our “Caymanian-ness,” we do acknowledge that one of our country’s primary appeals is the “different” pace at which we are accustomed to operate.

Call it being relaxed, being worry-free or just “being on Cayman time”; whatever its label, it’s the opposite of being trapped in traffic jams, which is something we don’t associate with living in paradise.

For reasons of public safety, economic expansion and personal convenience, our officials must ensure that Grand Cayman’s transportation infrastructure is not just adequate, but sufficient to carry us into what is likely to be a much more densely populated future.

Ultimately, addressing Grand Cayman’s traffic problems is more than a quantitative issue — it’s a quality of life issue.

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  1. Living in the Eastern districts and getting to work in the morning and coming home in the evening is truly a stressful situation. However, we are still wondering if something cannot be done about the Bumper-to-bumper stress.
    Let us look at the big picture. How long are we going to squeeze businesses in George Town and on West Bay roads; hours to get to them and no where to park.
    We have cars and busses, motorcycles and bicycles travelling each day from three separate districts BODDEN TOWN, EAST END, and NORTHSIDE to the central George Town and West Bay road. So what else can we expect.
    It would be a good thing if our representatives would try to encourage investors, businesses to spread their companies to some of the outer districts. Why does every one have to be heading into George Town or West Bay Road every day. Why can it be that some hotels, law offices, banks, restaurants, clubs and too much to name be carried to some of the Eastern districts. The air is fresher and the people are friendlier.
    Of course in the next ten years or before there will be no where to park an no place left to put a new building.
    So we will be going the same direction bumper-to-bumper unless The Dart foundation has the vision to use Metro Rails from Savannah to George Town to West Bay, like they do in Miami down town city. Those who want to may park in provided parking spaces in Savannah or take the bus to there, take the rail and One zip, you are in town. That was just a brain storm for the morning. God bless everyone.

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  2. A reason for the increase in traffic jams is simply the carrying capacity of the roads.
    I was once involved in a development in Florida where increased traffic was an issue.

    Traffic engineers use computers to simulate the effect of increasing traffic.
    A road may be able to carry 100 cars per minute with no slowdowns but increase it just by ten percent and there are jams

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