Despite being met with controversial reviews in several public debates, the Government of the Virgin Islands has extended its ban on bikes between the hours of 5pm-5am for another three weeks.
The decision was reflected in Government’s official gazette under the Road Traffic (Restriction of Use of Motor Cycle), which stated that the updated ban will run until July 16th, 2020.
While no reasoning was provided, the timeline of the decision corresponded with a public statement by Premier of the Virgin Islands, Honorable Andrew A. Fahie, who said he is duly concerned about the spike in motorbike/motorcycle accidents.
Premier Fahie said “We are seeing an increase in scooter accidents and riders are not wearing safety gears and riding safely on the road. I am urging scooter riders to practice safety on the Territory’s roads.”
The Territory’s leader also made a passionate plea to riders to practice safe riding, further imploring them to get their scooter/motorbikes licensed, wear a helmet and abide by the road rules
Many residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the ban, implying that it is discriminatory. They said it works against persons who utilize a motorcycle/motorbike as their main means of transportation, for personal or business uses.
In an effort to alleviate those concerns, special passes have since been issued to security guards who work for private security companies, Customs and immigration officers and essential service workers.
Others residents are urging the Government and relevant authorities to enforce scooter laws as opposed to imposing curfew restrictions. On a recent forum hosted by Minister of Transportation, Works and Utilities, Honorable Kye Rymer, one resident said “one of the things I think we have evaded in the conversation is the responsibility of the police and the enforcement that is needed by the police. Yes, the parents have a responsibility. Yes, the government enacts the laws but we also need law enforcement to enforce the rules.”
At the time, Hon. Rymer agreed with the caller and added “the enforcement needs to play a bigger role in terms of making the laws actually meaningful. We have the restrictions in place now and I am still seeing scooter beyond that time. Is it that the law enforcers are not paying attention?”
Minister Rymer said “this is a conversation they will have with law enforcement.”
Noise nuisance is another big factor highlighted by residents who support the ban. It is reported that Bikers would often remove the “mufflers” to accommodate this, even though some claim it helps the bikes to maneuver our mountainous terrains.
Nevertheless, according to reports, this has served as a major disturbance to many.
The territory has recorded over 50 motorbike/motorcycle related accidents for 2020.