Long before you see them, you hear them: Engines gunning, tires squealing, the racket reverberating up and down our streets.
Then they appear — helmetless, licenseless, popping wheelies, weaving in and out of traffic, all at breakneck speed — the menacing motorbikers of Grand Cayman, personifications of road death and lawlessness.
Just how little regard they have for the safety of themselves and others, these motorbikers display through their reckless behavior. Just how little regard they have for the police is best exemplified by the recent brazen theft of impounded vehicles, right from law enforcement’s own backyard.
To put it bluntly, these motorbikers are driving police — and the rest of us — crazy. And it’s time to stop them.
“Every single day, we’re getting complaints about these bikes on the road,” Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton said.
(Let us at this point differentiate between Cayman’s “motorbikers,” the topic of this editorial, and the law-abiding, safe and courteous “motorcyclists” who take great pride in the maintenance of their two-wheeled machines and their conduct on the road.)
Compounding the issues of general nuisance and public endangerment is the fact that motorbikes, in other Latin American and Caribbean locales, are the “getaway” vehicles of choice for thieves and violent criminals. (Why use a comparatively slow and bulky car to commit a crime, when you can simply hop on a nimble bike that police are hesitant to chase? It worked wonderfully for the pair of gunmen who robbed the Camana Bay jewelry store last month.)
Our ever-astute readers have been chiming in with their own thoughts and observations on the issue. We’ll share some of their comments from our website here:
“Unless the police crush every bike that has been taken, they will be back out on the road, legal or illegal. It is time we stop asking why about things and get into action about them.”
“Agreed 100 percent on the ban. If I see another hoodlum popping a wheelie on the public road, I’m gonna bust a blood vessel in my head!”
“Fairbanks Road is a popular race track for these noisy illegal bikes with un-helmeted riders. They’ve been reported to cops and where are they? Nowhere to be seen. If it is so easy to steal from under their noses, just how effective can they be on the road in law enforcement?”
Of course, there are serious concerns about why, and how, police evidence — including significant quantities of drugs, as well as the motorbikes — is being “liberated” from the George Town police station. (And just how is it that the police station’s CCTV cameras have not been working when those thefts have occurred?)
Putting aside that topic for now, however, and focusing on the topic of motorbikers’ misbehavior, it appears there is not very much that police can do to stop them.
The comments we may be tempted to make in regard to certain court decisions might infringe upon a rather vague area of Cayman Islands law (it’s called “scandalizing the judiciary”), so we will simply reprint, without comment, a passage from Justice Alex Henderson’s 2013 Grand Court judgment, in relation to a 2008 police chase that ended in the deaths of two men who were being pursued, which has made police wary of speeding after law-breaking motorbikers:
“The accident was contributed to, if not caused by, the speed at which [the pursued man Alex] Callan was driving. He was doing so because a police car was chasing him. Had the pursuit been terminated, it is more probable than not that Mr. Callan would have slowed down to a normal speed so as to avoid attracting further police attention. The negligent failure to end the pursuit was one factor which contributed to the accident.”
What do our readers think about that?