Stop the parades

Dear Editor,

I admit it. I am suddenly afflicted with “The Russell Syndrome”. For those of you out of touch, the symptoms are that the individual finds himself complaining and writing about everything, be the causes real or imagined. I liked to think I was immune to that and have commented to Russell in print because of that, yet here I am … complaining about something again. Not imagined but genuine and real and goes to the heart of quality of life for everyone that lives here versus the commercial interests of a few. My apologies in advance.

You have all seen them and been victim of them. Long lines of quads snailing along with traffic backed up behind them to the horizon. The quad guys will tell you to just get over it. That the roads are public and they can do whatever they want. But can they?

Yesterday on my way back from Marigot I had occasion to go over the causeway bridge. When I got to the roundabout at the end, I was confronted by a guy on a quad blocking the road as if he owned it. His purpose was to allow 50 or so quads that were lined up up Airport Road to filter in en mass and thus stop traffic dead in the road in Simpson Bay. As I looked to the right I could see that they already had traffic stopped all the way to the airport … at least 100 cars dead in the road. So I drove around this guy who was blocking the road, passed the “mom chicken” that was leading the parade and went on my way. The car that was behind me didn’t do that and he is probably getting home just about now.

It is the usual island conundrum. The perceived rights of some people trampling on the actual rights of others and who is to say what’s correct and put a stop to it? I believe what the guy on the quad was doing by blocking the road is illegal. Pure and simple. No middle ground. He has no legal authority to do it and should be controlled and fined because of it.

In addition and somewhat less clear is the notion that you have 50 vehicles that would not be allowed on public roads in any civilized jurisdiction snailing along and impeding traffic literally as far as the eye can see. And not just a little. If you are trying to get somewhere on time like the airport or the hospital or something and you trip over this parade, you can just forget it, because the snail train will make sure that you add 30 or 40 minutes to wherever you are trying to get.

Is this legal? Tough to say. They are a commercial operation like the buses and everybody else that uses the roads for business, but does that give them the right to simply make everyone else on the road miserable by impeding traffic every time they show up? I wouldn’t think so, but who knows? It’s just another one of those things that goes on here routinely that makes your blood pressure head to the moon.

But I have a suggestion. While I would love to see them banned I figure there is little or no chance of that, but an ordinance that limits their numbers to, say, no more than 5 or 7 in a row and require them to allow people to pass without hindrance would be a way forward. If they really need 20 or 30 in a row then require a police “leader” at the tour operator’s expense to make sure that the rest of the island gets to use the roads in some reasonable fashion and keep butt-heads like my guy on the quad blocking the road at the causeway from making up the laws as they go along.

I mention that because that incident could have been much worse. As I was driving around him he very aggressively attempted to run his quad directly in front of me to force me to either stop or crash him. Fortunately my quick cat-like reflexes kept him from being successful in either attempt, but given a slightly different set of circumstances and he could have ended up a hood ornament on my car. And he would have deserved it.

It’s a problem worth solving. It’s one of those quality-of-life things that makes people crazy for no reason and it would be really nice if the police could do something about it before someone gets killed.

Steven Johnson

The Daily Herald

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