Amid unprecedented traffic jams in Grand Cayman, the Compass spoke with local cyclist and owner of Revolutions Spinning gym Jerome Ameline to get his verdict on why more commuters are not turning to pedal power to bypass the congestion.
Why do you think more people don’t ride bikes instead of joining the traffic queues in their cars?
There are several issues; a lack of cycling lanes, lack of businesses to provide showers for their staff, lack of buses to take kids to school therefore parents have to drive their kids to school then go to work.
Businesses could promote their staff to cycle to work. Let’s imagine the government building encouraging 100 people to start work at 6:30am and ride their bike to work (before heavy traffic) and then get off work at 2pm and ride back home.
Those 100 people would get a smaller working day as an incentive, they would become fit and more productive/less sick and this system would remove 100 cars from rush hours. 100 cars less for pollution, and 100 cars less to provide car park for.
Is it safe for cyclists on Cayman’s roads?
Cycling in Cayman is going to be as safe as you make it. Don’t choose to ride in heavy traffic (from 7am to 9am and from 4.30pm to 6pm on week days around George Town).
If you ride for exercise, ride early. For commuters and cyclists exercising, wear bright clothes and a helmet, have rear red and front white lights anytime it is dark and respect traffic rules. Police should enforce the rules for cyclists to get lights.
What are the main safety concerns?
Avoid rush hour traffic. People getting off work are usually driving while checking their phone. I wish the police would do a bit more about ticketing speeding/dangerous driving and driving with the phone.
Anytime I get cut off while riding my bike, 9 out of 10 times, the driver is on the phone. People talking on the phone while driving is actually not so bad, the worst are the ones texting or checking their screen and reading email or Facebook while driving.
Police also need to address bad drivers who overtake dangerously (passing a cyclist with less than 3 feet is normally illegal)
What do you think would make people give up their cars and ride bikes?
Better cycling lanes, financial incentive or shorter working day with the same pay from businesses or for government employees. It would be good to have some police patrolling on bikes to show the example to other road users.
Could bikes be a solution to the congestion problem?
Let’s be realistic, promoting bikes alone would not fix the problem as most people are not willing to quit driving, but more bikes would help along with better public transportation.
Do we need more cycle lanes, both besides roadways and as standalone routes around town?
Yes for cyclists and yes for commuters. The few cycling lanes we have from Camana Bay to West Bay/Batabano road and the lane on the Savannah bypass are great.
Making more cycling lanes is great, but maintaining them and keeping them clean is essential. Most of us will not ride our bike on a dirty cycling path as we often find broken glass from beer bottles or wires from car’s old tires and we end up getting flat tires in no time
Any other ideas on how to deal with traffic congestion?
To avoid traffic, be better at time management. Change the time you get on the road. Wake up earlier, drive to George Town, take part of a spin class or other activity and then go to work.
I often remind people that doing spinning at Revolutions before work will make them wake up just a bit earlier but they will be already in George Town once the class is finished (we have showers available).
Same story for after work at 5pm, people could easily do a work out in our gym and get on the roads after class at 6.15pm once the traffic has cleared: they will arrive at home almost the same time but will have squeezed a work out instead of being stuck in traffic.