THE EDITOR: I note with interest the many responses, written and verbal, to my letter which suggested that we should enforce the law prohibiting cyclists from using our dual carriageways. I made the suggestion based on signage along these highways that no bicycles, pedestrians, mopeds and animals are allowed. Most of the responses were supportive with a few dissenting voices.
The signs on the Solomon Hochoy have been there since the 1970s when the four-lane highway was constructed. I find it incredible that, for over 40 years, judges, lawyers, politicians, reporters, columnists and newspaper editors have driven on these roads yet no one has ever advised the authorities that these signs are illegal, if indeed they are.
(One former judge has assured me that the signs are perfectly legal – I leave that debate to the lawyers.) So it’s not unreasonable if law-abiding people assume the signs are legal, and meant to be obeyed.
Nonetheless, this did not deter a newspaper editor from accusing me of being “insulting and uninformed” for my suggestion.
Insulting? I try hard to make my point without insult or disrespect to anyone. If I failed this time, if anyone felt “insulted” by my suggestion, I offer an unreserved apology – it was surely unintentional.
Uninformed? Possibly, I’m uninformed about many things but, in this case, at least it has engendered some conversation on the issue and may yet bring some clarity.
The dissenting voices selectively cite the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act Chap 48:50 and support their argument on the basis that the word “vehicle” includes bicycles. True, but it includes many other things as well. Here is the full definition: “vehicle” includes tramcars, carriages, wagons, carts, motor vehicles, bicycles, tricycles, vans, hand carts, sledges, trucks, barrows and all other machines for the portage of goods or people. (One must admire the foresight of those who anticipate the day when TT will be covered in snow and ice, and sledges will be a common sight on our roads.)
That’s right, people. Toddlers on tricycles, men pushing wheelbarrows, a bull pulling a cart (bull carts) and the trolleys used to offload goods are “vehicles.” So if we cite this definition to justify the presence of bicycles on our highways, then all these must be included too. Is that what we want or intend? If not, where do we draw the line? And who gets to decide? I’m assured it’s all in the regulations that accompany the act.
I submit that those who constructed the Solomon Hochoy Highway knew exactly where to draw the line. No animals – that takes care of the bull carts. No pedestrians – that takes care of people pushing barrows and trolleys. No bicycles – you get the idea.
Just to be clear, I have nothing against cyclists using our roads, where permitted. (I won a Raleigh bicycle in an Ovaltine contest in the late 1960s and rode regularly from home in Lengua Village to Naparima College in San Fernando, as well as all over the southland.)
I fully support any initiative to encourage the population to ride more, and endorse the editor’s call for “healthy, safe cycling opportunities” to combat the inexorable increase in the national epidemic of obesity. But, in doing so, for your own safety, please observe the road signs.
NOEL KALICHARAN via e-mail