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OPINION | Joys, Heartaches, and Challenges with Motorcycles

By Hon. Gilroy Usher

“The driver on the street is not safe when he reads the sign, but when he obeys them.” -Aiden Tozer

Almost every weekend a group of bikers /motorcycle drivers engaged in wheelie and other stunts on the Chetumal Road between the bridge and the road to the P.G.I.A. And over the last week, at least three persons lost their lives as they were traveling on motorcycles. The last two fatalities were co-workers Aurelio Ayala, 42, and Joana Samoza, 21.

Due to the low purchase prices in comparison to a four-wheel vehicle, there is an abundance of motorcycles in urban and rural areas throughout the country. Motorcycles are easy to operate. Their maintenance is manageable even by persons earning a minimum wage. Motorcycles consume little fuel, and their parts and repair costs are manageable by most persons with little income.

It is much cheaper for one or two persons to travel on a motorcycle instead of making use of public transportation such as bus or taxi, and on busy streets, motorcycles enable persons to maneuver between vehicles easily to reach their destinations quicker.

Motorcycles enable scores of persons to care for their families by being delivery employees for restaurants, hardware stores, hotels, and other businesses.

It is motorcycles that give many persons the joy, and the great satisfaction of leading the annual Cross Country Race at unbelievable speed from Belize City to San Ignacio and back to the finish line in the old capital. Outside of the Cross Country race, motorcycles enable persons to trill spectators, including ladies, and enjoy a super high of invincibility as they race through villages and main streets in urban areas at an unbelievable speed that certain bikers become known as local Daredevils.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph not everything is fun with motorcycles. They are responsible for scores of untimely death, broken homes, and futures crushed forever.

My late uncle Cleveland Lord was a lover of motorcycles. Four plus decades ago every summer he enjoyed driving his large motorcycle like those old big police bikes over 70 miles from Orange Walk Town to our home in the village of Bermudian Landing in the Belize District.

Back then, there was far less traffic on the highways as well as in the villages and towns. If Cleveland was around now, that trip would be like Russian roulette, a big gamble with death.

A few decades ago, the eldest child and very promising son of the Hemsley family on Faber’s Rd. lost his life instantly when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into the wall of the MCC ground opposite Princess Casino.

Motorcycle accidents, including fatalities, are on the rise in the country for several reasons.

Some motorcycle drivers abuse improved highways to drive way above the prescribed speed limit. A few bikers even boast of aiming to push their motorcycles to the fastest speed until it bucks. That’s irresponsible behavior that endangers the life of the biker and other road users.

A number of motorcycle drivers have been involved in fatal or life-changing accidents because they traveled at night without the necessary lights and reflector clothing to warn approaching vehicles of their presence on the road. Other motorcycle drivers have been involved in accidents because of overtaking on curves, overtaking a line of three to four vehicles, or driving too much toward the center of the road, which doesn’t leave sufficient space for fast-moving vehicles to pass them at a safe distance.

Despite being aware of the dangers of the highways and other roads for motorcycles at night, some persons simply develop the terrible practice of being on their motorcycles when it’s already dark night, because of not leaving for home in time repeatedly.

When a motorcycle explodes without involvement in a collision, that’s usually the result of leaking fuel or an overheated engine. Like all other vehicles, motorcycles need to be properly maintained for the safety of the users and the general public.

Most motorcycle drivers do their best to observe the traffic laws for their own safety and the safety of their families and the public. Nevertheless, a number of drivers of motorcycles are involved in traffic accidents because of other reckless drivers on the road. For that reason, it is very important that motorcycle drivers drive with caution even when they have the right of way. About two years ago, a motorcyclist, who was traveling at high speed on the George Price Highway, lost his life suddenly around mile 41 when he collided with a pickup truck that suddenly tried to cross the highway to a gas station that was on the opposite side of the road.

The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the various town boards are doing everything possible to help ensure the safety of all those who use the streets and roads, including those who use motorcycles as their means of transportation.

To enjoy a long and happy life as users of motorcycles, motorcycle drivers must recognized that with better roads, better and faster motorcycles, far more vehicles on the road, and an increase of less cautions drivers, a motorcycle in 2023 opens one joyous moments as well as heartaches, and challenges, and the best way to avoid the latter two is by always going the extra mile to practice road safety at all times.

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