Chef Joe Brown and British national Joanna Banks were yesterday remembered at Arrive Alive’s World Day of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims walk, ride and run relay at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
Brown, a co-owner of Jaffa at the Oval, and Banks, an employee at bpTT, were cycling on the eastbound lane of the Beetham Highway, near Beetham Gardens, with 12 other members of the Slipstream Cycling Club around 6.30 am, on November 10, when a car crashed into the group. Banks died at the scene while Brown died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
Condolences, sympathies and prayers were sent to the families and friends of the two cyclists, as well as the other 89 who died on TT’s roads for the year so far.
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said though he could not change what happened on that day, Government was working towards change through the Draft Policy on Road Cycling which he presented to Cabinet three days ago.
He said the policy defined the procedures and conditions for cyclists, and to ensure safer road conditions for them. He said it also ensured that cycle provisions were integrated into the current infrastructure and into the designs for new developments.
Sinanan said the Highway Code and Motor Vehicle Road Traffic Act was also updated to create cycling violations and impose fines and demerit points on those who violated them. He also made a commitment to repair the roads in Chaguaramas as cyclists often rode there.
“I call on the cycling fraternity to remain hopeful and take heart in my promise to carry out all that is necessary to ensure that the leisure of cycling becomes much safer. I implore you to look forward to a new era on the roads when riders will have more rights, bicycles will be accommodated with the appropriate road space to move and reckless drivers who infringe upon your safety will be sternly charged.”
He said Government was also working on new regulations to identify drivers with less than one year's experience as well as those 60 years of age and older so that those around could take necessary precautions.
Arrive Alive president, Sharon Inglefield said the deaths of Banks and Brown emphasised that all road users had a right, by law, to be on the nation’s roads. She noted that, in addition to the two cyclists last Saturday, three others died in traffic accidents last week alone. Those included registered nurse, Vanessa Reefer last Tuesday, Coast Guard officer and motorcyclist Kevaughn Diaz last Sunday, and maxi taxi driver Wendy Wescott on Friday.
She called for greater focus on improving the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the road including a cycling lane, working street lights, and proper sidewalks.
“Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, traumatic events – the impact of which is long-lasting and often permanent. Many families suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which could be lessened if systems were implemented and there was a process for obtaining real victim support.”
BHP Billiton TT president Vincent Pereira said people criticise and blame but they also have a role in the state of the roads and of crime. “Our role must be... that we are contributing, that we are making a difference and that we are helping to drive change and transform TT.”
He encouraged each person to take responsibility for their actions, to choose to make a difference by obeying traffic laws, such as driving at the speed limit, actually stopping at stop signs, and honouring the various road traffic signs.
Approximately 500 people participated in the walk and ride and many others were educated at the booths of the “traffic village” where trauma councillors and therapists, as well as several companies and organisations highlighted different aspects of road safety.