Why Jamaica Needs Cycling Infrastructure Now


My last blog post suggested that our urban planning and development completely sidelines trees/green space and pedestrians. Our city of Kingston is heading in an unsustainable direction. I did not mention bicycles but as a former cyclist myself (I cycled to and from work in the UK for several years, in all weathers!) to me this is a no-brainer, although it seems far from the planners’ and policymakers’ thoughts. Bikes are cheap, have zero carbon footprint, are environmentally friendly and… healthy! But the idea of bike lanes is a non-starter, it seems. As this great blog post – full of facts and figures and links to studies – suggests, bikes are not just for cycling clubs, “poor people” or those who can’t afford a car. They simply make sense, on many levels. Think about it!

Cycle Jamaica

There are many reasons to include cycling infrastructure in Jamaica’s roadways. The greatest of which are that it is good for the safety of the people and the health of the environment. In 2015, Jamaica, along with many other countries, committed to working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. A few of these goals include good health and well being for all citizens, combat climate change, and make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Creating safe and sustainable infrastructure is a solution to all of these goals. Adding cycling infrastructure is not jut good for those looking to add cycling to their life or routine but also for other motorists. According to Barbara McCann, USDOT director of Safety, Energy & Environment, bicycle infrastructure “reduces the frequency of crashes. It calms traffic, which makes streets less chaotic and safer for everyone.”

01-14deaths

2015deaths From the MTW Road Safety Unit.

According to the…

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9 thoughts on “Why Jamaica Needs Cycling Infrastructure Now

  1. While I agree that we need cycling infrastructure on our roadways, I am actually surprised that we don’t have more cycling fatalities given that cyclists ride in the evenings and at nights without any lights or reflectors, whatsoever. In my opinion, neither the cyclists nor the motorists have any regard for personal or public safety. In summary I am suggesting that there first needs to be a public awareness campaign to go with the infrastructure.

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    1. I totally agree. And that’s something I’m working towards. As the founder of Cycle Jamaica, I’d like to be able to offer classes about cycling safely. But, there has to be interest in the classes for them to have any impact. Or just interest in cycling and cycling infrastructure.

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    2. Definitely, public awareness is key. In recent years, the numbers of pedal cyclists killed on the road have been around 30 or more (32 in 2016, not sure how many last year/this year to date). Interestingly, 15 years or so ago numbers were quite a bit higher.

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      1. Well bike lanes are not always a necessity. In Berkeley, California there are few bike lanes but many cyclists and pedestrians. Speed limits are low, stop signs and marked crosswalks are plentiful. So motorists know they need to be aware of the many cyclists and pedestrians and because of that there are few accidents. The key may not be in bike lanes but in creating cities where homes and businesses are so close together that cars are not necessary. Creating walkable cities might be the key for Jamaica. No 2 places are the same and therefore the solution is not always the same.

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      2. Yes, good point. It would be a huge public education program for motorists and other road users then. Really Kingston is not a large city – I think some redesigning at least in some neighborhoods could work…?

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      3. Exactly. Yes to both your points. I suppose the title of the article could instead be “why Jamaica needs walkable/bikeable cities now”, because bike lanes don’t need to be everywhere for cyclists to feel safe. They certainly help but Jamaica should tackle this in a way that is cost effective and beneficial to its citizens. Kingston is probably the perfect city to start playing around with different kinds of infrastructure. The city was once great and now has the potential to be an example for the Caribbean again. A greenway might be the easiest place to start.

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      4. Yes. We could try it out perhaps in the more residential areas of town. I live in the Seymour Lands are (“Golden Triangle”) and we are looking at plans and designs for a more liveable neighbourhood with architect Clifton Yap.

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