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Athletes endangered by increase in SUVs

IF you imagined there were fewer serious runners, joggers, walkers or cyclists on the roads these days, you'd be right.

Such activities have now been placed in the dangerous sports category.

It's no longer safe to tread the tarmac without being squeezed against the wall, pushed into a ditch, risk being clipped by a vehicle's wing mirror or even scraped and scratched by inconsiderate drivers who believe the roads are their exclusive territory.

Try negotiating Harbour Road at any time of the day, the risk of losing life or limb is very real.

It became a problem with the increase in vans whose owners could quite easily pack their products into the boot or on the back seat of a car or a small jeep with little inconvenience.

Now the proliferation of giant-sized Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) on the roads has exacerbated that same problem to a point that many runners and cyclists have had to reduce their training regimes to very early in the morning or on Sundays when there's far less traffic.

It's no surprise then that the SUV debate has reached full throttle in recent weeks with letters to the Editor and comments on the Gazette website flooding in.

It's interesting to note that an estimated 70 percent of those who wrote in called for the banning of SUVs. It's amazing that even more wouldn't make the same argument.

It has been claimed in the past that Bermuda boasts more churches and golf courses per square mile than any other country in the world. SUVs might now be added to that list.

It's much like those overseas who buy their Ferraris and Maseratis knowing full well they'll never reach maximum speed but just as a toy that might impress friends and neighbours.

SUV owners could fall into the same category.

These vehicles certainly aren't necessary on this Island. Even our MPs have the good sense to drive reasonably sized cars, albeit paid for by the taxpayer.

A couple of those who wrote in argued against the banning of SUVs claiming they were needed to carry three or four children to school in the morning and back in the afternoon, along with the groceries.

We all managed perfectly well in the past.

What is particularly concerning is that for various reasons over the past 30 years no transport minister has been able to get to grips with the increasing traffic congestion and slowly but surely they've all allowed bigger and faster vehicles to be introduced, leaving the car dealers rubbing their hands with delight and filling their pockets.

Even the purchase of fast ferries doesn't seem to have made much difference the line of morning traffic down Harbour Road and Middle Road still stretches almost back to Warwick.

As a result of this congestion the hire of motor scooters has all but been wiped out.

All this to the detriment of the athlete who has as much right to use the road as anybody else and certainly shouldn't be subjected to the obscenities directed by impatient drivers who consider them a nuisance.

Bad driving, of course, continues to be a major problem but the SUV has made matters far worse.

Will our politicians have the courage to ban them completely?

Highly unlikely . . . until of course one of our sportsman or sportswomen are killed. And even then, they'll find some excuse.

* * * *

IRELAND'S astonishing victory over England in Cricket's World Cup this week might have forced the ICC to think again as regards the little opportunity given to those countries who rarely get chance to play the big guns.

It was an unlikely and rare occurrence but cricket needs this kind of result to popularise the game.

There were very few in Ireland who even knew their country boasted such a talented team. Football, horse racing and gaelic football have always taken precedence.

Bermuda Cricket Board hopefully will have seen some significance in that World Cup contest.

Ireland have only a precious few to pick from when they attempt to build a national team.

The pool they have to choose from may not be much larger than that in Bermuda an excuse often thrown out whenever Bermuda get thrashed by other Associate teams.

The difference is that the Irish have built a development programme which works and is now reaping enormous rewards. And, of course, as seen by jubilation shown after the defeat of England, the passion of the players can't be disputed.

ADRIAN ROBSON

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Published March 04, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 04, 2011 at 9:04 am)

Athletes endangered by increase in SUVs

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