Bermuda Shorts – Life In The Fast Lane

18 12 2009

Our island home is 21 square miles of breathtaking beaches, quaint roadways, gorgeous scenery, unique architecture and the bluest waters as far as the eye can see.

Dr. Ewart Brown, Premier of Bermuda, Minister of Transport and Tourism

Driving in Bermuda should be no problem for those of us who are accustomed to using the left side of the road

Of course now that I have relocated to the right-minded US of A, my sense of dislocated driving is on a whole new level.

I used to be confident that the steering wheel would be conveniently located on the right side, and that my left hand would change gears but driving in the US has ensured that occasionally I go to change gear and wind down the window instead.

With this in mind, it is probably a good thing that visitors to the island are unable to rent cars because the roads here are challenging enough without the added excitement of allowing people to drive on the opposite side of the tarmac.

Far easier to just let them rent scooters.

And thats the problem of using the “quaint” roads in Bermuda. Even in the quieter winter months.

During the tourist season (and especially when the cruise ships are “in town”), there are just too many inexperienced riders jockeying for position amongst the cars, trucks, buses and sundry vehicles that actually require four wheels for control and stability.

To paraphrase George Orwell “Four Wheels good, two wheels bad”.

Not to mention the fact that there are thousands of Bermudian scooter and motorcycle owners who are willingly taking their chances on a daily basis in order to get to places of employ, the beach or occasionally their regular sitting wall.

I have been driving for twenty-two years on the left (although I still had to pass a test to drive here!) and I have never driven on roads that are quite as breathtaking as Bermuda.

With the speed limit on the island being a very reasonable 35 KPH, there is some magnificent scenery that can be seen from the comfort of your vehicle.

As you drive you are never far from water and the eye occasionally wanders to a beach or the sight of waves breaking over a reef. I am not of course advocating that you should drive in a state of distraction but Bermuda is a very pretty place.

Being distracted on the busier stretches of road would not be a good idea.

You require total concentration, the constant checking of both side and rear-view mirrors and to make sure that you never ignore the tingling of your spider-sense.

Somehow those that live on the island and drive motorcycles have developed some kind of stealth technology that means that you can check in your mirror and see a clear road, only to be overtaken by a scooter at speed with no apparent regard for what is in front of you or for what is on the other side of the road. They appear as if from nowhere, hugging your bumper so close as to be able to have a conversation with them although this is normally along the lines of “where the f*** did you come from?”

Nearly everyone who rides a scooter seems to be in a tremendous hurry.

Average waiting time on my bumper seems to be about 5 seconds, before the tiny little engine is revved and a sound like an angry gnat comes shooting past the open window. These riders swerve in and out of traffic, and if they can’t get past on the right then the left is a perfectly reasonable option. Visitors to the island are under the impression that this is a laid back community but not once you put 50cc of raw power between your legs.

It makes the Isle of Man TT race look like a gentle stroll in the park.

And added to the mix of Bermudian scooter savvy, narrow roads and regular road users are the tourists.

They are the ones that are easy to spot. Two per scooter and wobbling from side to side, beach towel and accessories contained in a basket, they don’t so much ride their rented mode of transport as cling onto it for dear life. If they are with friends then they will appear in a procession of Oleander Cycles (the main renter of tourist injury machines), and if they have arrived on a cruise ship they will be riding solo as they have taken full advantage of the twenty-four hour buffet on their aquatic adventure.

Probably also perching rented golf clubs on their knees.

In many ways the decision to not rent cars and concentrate on two wheels is a good one. Twenty-one square miles is not a vast area, and with 60,000 plus inhabitants the government limits the number of cars per household to one, and is also restrictive as to what can be driven on roads originally designed for horse-drawn carriages.

The island also only has one piece of duel carriageway which runs for about 500 yards into town from a roundabout and is still restricted to 35 KPH.

Owning a fast car in Bermuda is not really a necessity, although there has been a rash of BMWs and the import of Minis onto the island has recently been allowed – sensible car for such quaint roads as opposed to the SUV’s that are inexplicably popular amongst the Islanders.

However the dominant mode of transport still seems to be the scooter (especially amongst the Bermudian youth), understandable when there is no limit per household. Problems arise when scooter licences are given to those who have no real road safety concepts and when ten minutes coaching on tarmac outside the store is considered sufficient time to learn the nuances of an unfamiliar road system.

I respect all roads, once on the tarmac there are different rules and regulations which we need to follow.

Life is not some video-game simulation, make the wrong move and you can’t just press reset. Make a mess and someone has to clean up, and nobody wants that job.

Time for us all to live life in the slow(er) lane, it doesn’t matter if you drive on an Island Paradise or in a Busy Metropolis.


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2 responses

26 10 2010
NPN Transistor :

beach towels that are made of cotton are nice, they also last longer compared to synthetic fabrics*”`

17 09 2013
Where’s the Drive? | Wholehearted Artist

[…] This might be due to being very observant of my surroundings or possibly my sense of direction. My husband and I went on a cruise years ago that allowed us to be in port for four days. We rented scooters.* Having this kind of freedom allowed us to see the island on our terms – when we wanted, how we wanted. Each night, around 11PM, we would take off on our crazy little mopeds and travel the roads – without risking our lives too much. […]

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