Pardon us if we embellish a bit. But our government’s years of inaction on speed limits, despite multiple deaths and injuries on notoriously hazardous stretches of road, has exceeded our limits – of tolerance.
To review, the first People’s Progressive Movement administration (from 2005-2009) entertained proposals to lower the 40-mile-per-hour speed limit on West Bay Road and to install pedestrian crosswalks. Several crosswalks have now been installed, but the speed limit remains the same.
In November 2013, the National Roads Authority and associated Traffic Management Panel launched a public consultation process, unveiling an island-wide map of proposed changes to speed limits on various roads across Grand Cayman, including reducing the speed limit on much of West Bay Road from 40 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.
The authority’s plan was placed before Cabinet in late February or early March 2014 – nearly a year and a half ago. In April of this year, following a serious accident on West Bay Road that left a teenage pedestrian in critical condition, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said the speed changes on West Bay Road would take effect in May. That deadline, obviously, has passed.
Now, the NRA says the speed limit changes are “in the hands of the ministry,” whose officials in turn say they hope to effect the alterations by mid-September, meaning a month from now. What, we ask, is taking so long?
Further, how is it that something as straightforward as speed limits needs to be handled by so many distinct entities throughout government – NRA, its special “Panel,” the ministry, Cabinet, etc.? We would think that this issue could be managed with a traffic engineer’s study and bullet-point list of recommendations, followed by a cursory examination and stamp of approval by the relevant officials. After the initial analysis and report have been completed, the lengthiest step in the procedure should be the physical act of changing out the signs (meaning, maybe an afternoon’s work, including drive time).
Fundamentally speaking, we are skeptical that altering digits on signage will impact the behavior of problem motorists – particularly in the absence of the requisite enforcement of the law by police. However, in the spirit of Napoleon Bonaparte: “If you start to take Vienna – take Vienna.”
Our officials’ lethargic approach to speed limits is merely one illustration of public sector slothfulness on a range of issues, many of them of far greater complexity and magnitude, including the George Town landfill, pensions, healthcare obligations, sewage, real education reform, affordable housing, and even the much-ballyhooed National Conservation Council, to name a few. And, oh yes, let’s not forget the implementation of the “EY Report.”
We at the Compass are supporters of proposals to “slow it down,” in terms of vehicular velocity on West Bay Road, but not in regard to governmental processes.