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Bermuda needs internationally recognised riding school, says road safety campaigner

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Joseph Froncioni, MBE (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Any training provided to learner motorcycle riders on Bermuda’s roads must be conducted by highly trained professional instructors for it to be safe, a surgeon and road safety campaigner has warned.

Joseph Froncioni said that while he welcomed the Throne Speech announcement of on-road training for students of Project Ride, which is currently only offered to 16-year-olds, Bermuda is in need of an internationally recognised riding school which can serve riders of all ages.

Dr Froncioni, an orthopaedic surgeon who was appointed an MBE for his contribution to road safety in Bermuda, said: “We have always pushed for a proper, internationally approved motorcycle riding course.

“It is dangerous to try to teach on the road unless you are a professional. You must also have liability insurance and the proper technology [such as helmets with two-way radios].

“If it’s not done properly, it can be dangerous — it is not easy to give instruction while riding.

“There are plenty of ex-police who can be motorcycle-riding instructors. We have the manpower for a small motorcycle-riding school that would include a classroom, closed area and open-street training.

“A motorcycle-riding school won’t be cheap and would have to be subsidised by the Government. The correct thing to do is encourage a start-up riding school that is available for all riders in Bermuda.”

The Royal Gazette’s road safety campaign Drive for Change, along with its campaign partner A Piece of the Rock, had called for Project Ride to include an on-road component as well as advancing it as a fully fledged graduated licensing programme.

Drive for Change, The Royal Gazette's road safety campaign

Antoine Richards founded the now defunct B/Moto, a private riding instruction programme that provided on-road training in Bermuda.

In 2018, Mr Richards submitted a proposal to the Government for a graduated licensing programme that included the on-road component and was tailored to Bermuda’s roads, but it was never implemented.

“What you need is a graduated licensing programme with teeth in it,” Dr Froncioni added. “The UK knows that and so they make you jump through hoops of fire before getting a motorcycle licence.”

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport, said during a press conference this week that the on-road component being introduced under laws that will establish a learner licence will become a mandatory part of the programme and incorporated into the final riding exam.

However, when asked about what could be offered to the rest of the adult population — adults who are not eligible to participate in Project Ride — Mr Furbert said: “Interesting question. The question comes down to personal responsibility.

“We have to get some more messaging out there with regards to behaviour and the [Bermuda] Road Safety Council is definitely doing work on that. This is one step to try to ensure that our young people are better equipped to get on the road when it comes to Project Ride.”

Dr Froncioni, a former chairman of the Bermuda Road Safety Council, cofounded the Road Safety subdivision of the Bermuda Medical Society in 1995. In 2001, he founded the charity BermudaSmartRisk, which aimed to address dangerous road behaviour among young people, and at present he is chairman of the board of A Piece of the Rock.

A Piece of the Rock produced a film of the same name with Burnt House Productions in 2017 that tells the stories of some of those whose lives have been seriously impacted by road traffic crashes on the island.

Shari Lynn-Pringle, campaign manager, said: “A Piece of the Rock is extremely happy to see another of their call-to-action items come to fruition.

“We feel that this is just another step forward as a result of our documentary film and collaboration with Drive For Change where our call to action was for a robust graduated licensing programme for our young adults taking to the roads for the first time.”

Shari-Lynn Pringle (File photograph)

Ms Pringle added: “Although only 21 square miles, ‘the Rock’ is plagued with an astronomically high number of road crashes and fatalities. Most people can think of at least one person who has been seriously injured or who tragically lost their life on our roads.

“Through this documentary, we looked to start a conversation and put an end to the cultural norms around dangerous driving.”

The documentary can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/kLgtoa4PmeI

Drive for Change launched a website which includes crash statistics, print stories and videos including interviews with road victims and families of road fatalities. It can be seen here.

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Published November 10, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated November 10, 2022 at 7:57 am)

Bermuda needs internationally recognised riding school, says road safety campaigner

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