Pedal cyclists could be fined for using cellphones
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
PEDAL CYCLISTS who ignore road signs and use their cellular phones or other electronic devices while riding may soon find themselves in trouble with the law if proposed bicycle offences and sanctions recommended by the police are crafted in regulations under the new Road Traffic Act now being reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
Members of a joint select committee of Parliament deliberating on the Road Traffic Act 2014 acknowledged that there was the need for pedal cyclists to wear protective helmets, but concluded that this should not be introduced at this time.
Head of the Police Traffic Division Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen told the committee that 29 pedal cyclists got killed on the roads last year, while 65 motorcyclists lost their lives in motor-vehicle crashes.
A number of infractions by pedal cyclists, which the police might turn a blind eye to on the roads, will soon form part of the regulations of the proposed new Road Traffic law.
Pedal cyclists disobeying one-way roads and traffic lights are some of the more common offences for which the police are agitating for sanctions to be imposed on offenders. Committee members were unanimous in their support the imposition of sanctions for these breaches.
Carrying more than one person on a bicycle, disobeying 'no right turn' signs, disobeying 'stop' signs and riding on a roadway at night without lights are also proposed offences listed by the police which the committee endorsed.
With new provisions in the Road Traffic Act to prohibit motorists from using hand-held devices such as cellular phones while driving, it is recommended that pedal cyclists be also captured by this provision.
The police want pedal cyclists who are using a cellular phone or other electronic device while riding to be prosecuted.
During the committee's deliberations on Wednesday, Dr Horace Chang, lawmaker and medical practitioner, highlighted the serious challenges the health sector has had to deal with as a result of the number of motorcyclists and pedal cyclists who lost their lives or have been maimed in motor-vehicle crashes.
He noted that most of the pedal cyclists who died on the nation's roads could not have survived the crashes even if they had been wearing helmets.
However, Dr Chang pointed out that almost 80 per cent of the victims of accidents on the four major orthopaedic wards in the country were motorcyclists. "There is far more morbidity and trauma. It is horrible, and they are driving around the place without helmets ... something must be done about this," he declared.
Responding to Dr Chang's concern, Senior Superintendent Allen said the police seized 230 motorcycles from persons who contravened the Road Traffic Act in the parishes of Westmoreland, Kingston, St Andrew and St Elizabeth, from December to January.