EDITORIAL: Word on the street: Pedestrians beware – and be careful

It may sound “pedestrian” to editorialize about … pedestrians … but significant numbers of people in Grand Cayman travel by foot – including workers, schoolchildren, tourists and fitness buffs. Too frequently, Cayman roads are dangerous paths to travel.

And, as this week’s Shamrock Road collision reminds us, pedestrian safety is a serious issue on our island, where too many cars and people combine and collide with tragic results – almost always for the walkers, rarely for the drivers.

Police say 68-year-old Carlton William Farrell, of Bodden Town, has died as a result of injuries sustained in Monday’s traffic collision in the vicinity of Trumbach Drive.*

This grim occurrence serves as an opportunity to emphasize that pedestrians must be alert to potential risks, multiplied when walking and talking on their cellphones.

Cayman’s hodge-podge of sidewalks, narrow (or nonexistent) shoulders, sharp turns and obstructed views provide a hazardous environment for our bipedal locomotors. Even where sidewalks are present and crosswalks are clearly marked, pedestrians frequently ignore them.

On a daily basis, tourists – dazed or distracted by our tropical environs (or perhaps an overindulgence in margaritas or mudslides) – meander dangerously close to moving traffic. Even regular visitors or new residents who are trying to be careful may make fatal errors in judgment – especially if they are from the U.S., Canada or Europe and are accustomed to looking left, rather than right, for oncoming traffic.

The Compass has published reams of editorials imploring Cayman’s drivers to slow down, put away distractions such as mobile phones, abstain from driving while intoxicated and, in general, be safe on our streets. Amid the continuing circus-like atmosphere on Cayman’s roads, it is highly probable this will not be our last word on drivers’ misbehavior.

But today, we are addressing pedestrians in particular. We ask all to be cautious, cognizant and vigilant. Pull out the earbuds which block ambient warnings (honk-honk) as well as amplify musical distractions. Use sidewalks and crosswalks when they are available. Give moving cars and trucks a wide berth. Don’t expect drivers to see you first, or at all. (Have you witnessed the driving skills, or lack thereof, of far too many drivers in Grand Cayman – believe it or not, on Cayman Brac, too?)

Good heavens, do not put your life in their hands (unless, of course, you are anxious to relocate to “good heavens” …).

While everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikers, and car and truck drivers, has a responsibility to “share the road,” the reality is that burden is not shared equally. In any contest between a moving vehicle and the human body, steel always prevails.

Certainly, everyone should obey the laws of the Cayman Islands, which state that pedestrians in the road have the “right of way” over automobiles.

But the governing law is not of legislators but of physics: That law states that kinetic energy equals one-half of mass times velocity squared. (In other words, the faster and heavier something is, the more it hurts to get hit by it!)

As one Compass staffer points out, you never find cars in the emergency room.

 

*Updated from the original published version

12 COMMENTS

  1. Cayman Compass , I must applaud you for writing this editorial , and all the other ones, trying to convince the government and the people that there’s a very serious driving problem on the Islands that needs to be addressed now .
    I am surprised that there aren’t more of an out cry from the public on this issue of the driving on public roads/highways . I wonder if there were a group of people from every district of the Islands that would work together that would be watching for bad careless drivers driving on the roads , when they see it they video it or take photos of the car and license plate number and take it to the Police and demand for the owner to be prosecuted for dangerous and carelessly driving . But it sounds like something has to be done now , or you won’t be able to cross the road or walk on the roads without getting killed .

  2. Use of a mobile phone (except hands free), in a moving vehicle is illegal. So, who is enforcing this. One of the reasons there are so many accidents. SPEED here kills, which is epidemic. Build side walks. Walkers have a right to walk on a safe walkway. Until there are side walks, pedestrians intoxicated or not will be injured, or killed.

    • Lukishi , People have the right to cross the road, and they can’t do that today for fear of losing their life . So what is the use of having sidewalks ? Do you remember Mr Dereck Hanes ? Do you remember what he did with a driver who was driving of the road onto the side of the road where he was jogging ?

      I would say that the only fix for the problem , of careless , irresponsible, dangerous drivers , is to lock them up, get them of the roads . Then you will be able to walk on the side of road and cross the road without fear for your life .
      Northward still have enough space for the few mentioned drivers .
      But we all have to help the Police get them off the roads . And remember that if you are not going to be part of the solution, then you will be part of the problem .

  3. Speaking of injuries. A child and his brother were injured, after a person driving then acting Fire Chief, Mr. Bodden’s car (supposedly) hit them and left the scene. They were seriously injured perhaps 2 years ago. Please advise readers, on their condition today. Would love a follow up. Was there restitution to the injured parties. Thank you

  4. There are 2 ways to tackle this problem –to encourage safe driving or to build an infrastructure to protect vulnerable road users / pedestrians. I have always found the former to be difficult because it’s a cultural problem. Driving habits are pretty bad here (but not as bad as Miami or LA) and many of us in Cayman are guilty of bad driving (soccer Moms, our teenage sons and construction labors alike). The number of car accidents and car injuries will only increase as we build new roads. This is a fact and there’s a linear / direct relationship to the area of road and traffic accidents. 1000 miles of road will cause about 10x more accidents than 100 miles of road. Increase the speed limits and it only gets worse. In Cayman we’ve decided to build a lot of roads in the last 5 years with highway speed limits, so the # of accidents we’re having has gone up over this time period. Accidentally, our country has decided to encourage our dependence on the automobile and our bad driving habits which is killing more people than it ever has before.
    An easy solution to protect our pedestrians is to build sidewalks with 8” curbs. Anything less than 8” a car wheel can get over. This is also a relatively cheap solution. I was shocked years ago that government hasn’t thought of filling in the gaps between sidewalks in town given the huge commercial gain. It’s the most cost effective way to create good urbanism and enhance the quality of public space. With more pedestrians walking along a road, there’s more roadside shopping and more street life. In turn this creates higher real estate values, indirectly fights crime and keeps pedestrians safe for goodness sake.
    Over the last few years I have approached landowners in town and have designed and built sidewalks for them (I am an Architect). I have only built 800 linear feet but it has really helped out the neighborhood and has allowed tourists to better access restaurants and stores while also protecting them from bad drivers. There have been less hit and runs as a result. Please email me if you are a landowner in town without a sidewalk and I will design and manage your construction for free. Or better yet, if the Minister of Planning reads this, or anyone in CI Gov who can make a change, perhaps we can setup a meeting? I would love to help you build much needed sidewalks in town.

    • Mr Johnson , I agree that sidewalks would help the pedestrian situation . But we shouldn’t have to build sidewalks on all the streets, but we should have the RIGHTS to walk run jog on those streets , without fear of losing your life . What happens to the person that have to cross the street in a crosswalk when we still have the bad drivers driving the streets ? What would the sidewalks do for the driving situation on the roads/highways ? So after doing sidewalks the bad drivers are still on the roads , and very little has been accomplished . I think that if you corrected the drivers, that would be more help to the situation at hand . We need to remember that it was not the car that did the accident, it was the driver that did it . The vehicle does’nt drive the roads without the driver driving it .

      • You “correct” one driver, 100 more would be waiting to be “corrected”. This is futile.
        Sometime it is better to “remove” yourself from the environment. Bermuda has more accidents and traffic related deaths and injuries than Grand Cayman. Their roads were build when cars didn’t exist. There are no sidewalks or even road shoulders. Twisted and hilly roads with many blind spots/corners make it a nightmare for both, drivers and pedestrians. After having one too many close calls, I quit my job and left the island. When every day you have to risk your life just to cross a road, what is the point of living in such stressful environment?
        Talks and editorials about pedestrian safety are good, but nothing will ever change. “Technological advances” is a double-edged sword. Both pedestrians and drivers distracted more than ever before. Accept, that people won’t stop using their phones while driving or crossing a road, no-mater what.
        21st century public transportation is the only thing that would make a huge difference in Grand Cayman. But good luck to all who would want to cross the road after getting off a bus. Because if one stops to allow you to cross, watch out for those behind the vehicle that stops. They would attempt unimaginable stunts.

  5. Lots of good ideas here.
    Here’s another. At night were LIGHT COLORED CLOTHING. Better still, if walking on streets where there are no sidewalks or streetlamps carry and use a flashlight or any sort of flashing light.
    Every time I drive through West Bay I pass someone in a black T shirt and jeans who is almost invisible up to the last second.

    • It is almost impossible to change human behaviour and habits. What you, as a driver, can do? Be extra careful. Assume that each pedestrian you see is capable of unpredictable behaviour. Assume that they DON’T see you, if it is dark outside.
      What about those YOU don’t see? Talk to your guardian angel. 🙂

  6. Thank you Mr.Johnson. You sound like you have some sense. We need sidewalks plain and simple. I watched a older woman driving this afternoon heading to the hospital. She was slowing down every 50 feet and was obviously having vision problems. She hit the curb on her left side in a one way street. As she progressed on she kept stopping and then advancing while looking like she just drove this car for the first time. No police on the road patrolling?
    Everyday I see bicycles driving down South Church Street and not hugging the left side of the street. We all know there are fuel trucks and other larger vehicles and the street needs to be widen or make it in to one lane. Its so crazy to think that an accident is not going to happen. You have a public bus service going back and forth now and still people are walking to town or Smith Barcadere? We built sidewalks coming off the roundabout to eastern avenue and widen roads, why not everywhere in Down town? We have the school district, not enough sidewalks. 7 mile beach should have it on both sides. Speed limit reduced to 30 mph. Why not make a law on main roads that property owners build the sidewalks?

    • It’s a good idea to build sidewalks but in may cases the roads aren’t wide enough. You would have to purchase land from every homeowner along the street and then make their front yards smaller to accommodate the sidewalk. And no you can’t take their land or force them to do it.

  7. I have said that taking these few bad drivers of the streets is the best cure for the driving situation in Cayman . They the careless irresponsible drivers have to learn the hard way , and we responsible drivers shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by their careless thoughtless driving . Learning, some people can learn from other peoples mistakes and their own , but if you can’t learn that way . Then they need to learn the hard way , be put in prison for a certain period of time, and after being released the probation time and disqualification time kicks in. If you re-offend after all of your punishment, then deport them to Owen Island where they can’t drive no more .