Lives are at risk
June 6, 2012
The other day I was driving through town during rush hour and in front of me was a tourist on a rental bike. Every time the traffic stopped and started, which is of course frequent during rush hour, I held my breath as she wobbled around, very nearly hitting the car in front at several points. She was also riding on the outside lane of traffic, frantically trying to keep up with her husband. From the moment I spotted her, I felt I might as well have had my phone ready to call an ambulance, because it was quite literally an accident waiting to happen. As it turns out, when traffic started to speed up along East Broadway, she did indeed lose control of her bike, hitting the side of a car and falling off.
Since returning to the island two weeks ago, this was the second tourist I have seen come off of their bike. In fact, any resident will be able to relate to the uncomfortable feeling that they get when they spot that white helmet of a tourist on a rental bike driving along unsteadily, because most have probably witnessed such incidents, or been told of them from someone else. In particular I have heard some horrendous stories from doctors at the hospital, who witness the worst possible outcome of tourists riding a moped. I understand that bike rental companies wish to maximise their profits, and that it may not seem in their interest to advise someone that they would be better off not to rent a moped. However, these companies have a moral responsibility towards their customers in terms of informing them of the risks and ensuring that those they do send off on bikes are confident and competent to face the busy roads.
I have been with friends to rent bikes before, and have been surprised at the speed of the rental process and lack of questions and assessment of riding ability. We do not simply send sixteen year olds off straight on to the road and hope for the best, just because they are legal. Most are educated about Bermudas roads and have had the opportunity to practice. Shockingly, I have even heard of people giggling and joking about a shaky tourist, as they send them off on their journey. Frankly, this is no lighthearted matter when the interests of lives are at risk, and more stringent practices need to be put into place. Whether it means having a five minute safety video on some of the basic rules and tips for riding on Bermudas roads, and/or offering instruction sessions to those that are less competent, or even going as far as offering three-wheeled bikes, the safety of the islands visitors should be placed before any profit, and who knows, the adoption of such safety practices may even offer business opportunities for bike rental companies. It should not be the case that you spot that white helmet and want to cover your eyes; we should be ensuring that our valued tourists have a safe vacation at the very least.
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