We should support public transportation and reduce our dependency on cars. *File photo
We should support public transportation and reduce our dependency on cars. *File photo

BEST’s Blueprint on sustainable development aims to outline what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take to get there. BEST’s Blueprint on sustainable development aims to outline what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take to get there. Over the coming weeks the Bermuda Sun will continue publishing the text of the Blueprint, section by section.

In 2008 the Government Document “Charting Our Course: Sustaining Bermuda” noted that a 5-seater, electric car (driven here for over five years) was “perfect for a small island”.

Among its many attributes were a running cost of approximately $20 a month, and being emission-free. Unfortunately, such vehicles have yet to catch on here.

At a time when Bermuda needs to reduce overseas expenditure in particular and reduce expenses generally, the “invisible” economic costs of transport in Bermuda should be made more visible and recognised as unsustainable:

  • Cost of imported vehicles.
  • Rising cost of imported fuel.
  • Cost of accidents to people (117 traffic collisions resulting in serious physical injury in 2011) requiring hospitalization at home and abroad.
  • Cost of traffic fatalities (eight, from Jan-Nov 2012).
  • Cost of court cases and imprisonment related to traffic offences.
  • Costs of damage to vehicles.
  • Increasing insurance costs.
  • Cost to environment – pollution and waste disposal.
  • Cost of road maintenance.

Traffic congestion and pollution are commonly associated with increased stress and negative health effects.

Despite this, the size, number and speed of vehicles in Bermuda have increased in recent years with the result that Bermuda has one of the highest road traffic densities in the world and a road fatality rate that was reported to be six times worse than that of the UK.

As with housing, transportation is a sector in which there is a conflict between the community’s needs and “market forces”.

Ideally, we should be promoting public transportation. Where personal transportation is used, vehicles should be the safest and most efficient to serve their purpose, particularly as larger and less fuel-efficient vehicles extend our existing reliance on fossil fuels.

The ability to drive a motor vehicle on our roads must be viewed as a privilege rather than a right. We must work to change mindsets behind the dangerous driving habits that have largely become culturally acceptable if we are to prevent future road fatalities and promote the safety of all users of our roads.

As stated by Road Safety Officer David Minors, successfully addressing road safety issues will require both enforcement and responsibility for personal driving habits.

Enforcement could include more speed checks, breathalyser tests, and far stricter penalties for dangerous driving and high speeds, particularly for repeat offenders.

Measurements taken at East Broadway in 2003/4 found concentrations of airborne particulate matter that exceeded the Bermuda Clean Air Regulations and that have been associated with a range of respiratory problems.

More recent research also found that our reliance on petroleum-based fuels is having a devastating effect on our wildlife.

Identifying and enforcing local emissions standards, as was promised with the new emissions testing facility constructed over two years ago, would go a long way towards addressing some pollution issues.

In addition, reducing our reliance on private transportation would reduce both pollution and congestion.

Improvements to public transportation must be viewed as an investment rather than an expense as they can ultimately reduce the costs of maintaining our roads and improve economic productivity by reducing the amount of time and money wasted sitting in traffic.

Improvements will not only benefit locals, but will also help to disperse the economic impact of cruise passengers from Dockyard to other areas of the island and improve visitor experiences.

BEST supports efforts to discourage the use of private transportation while improving the efficiency and decreasing the cost of public transportation.

BEST would also support promotion of smaller, more efficient vehicles and greener methods of transportation, including cycling and walking, and exploring the potential of electricity or propane/natural gas as propulsion for vehicles.

For these initiatives to be successful, BEST promotes the more diligent enforcement of traffic laws, and the timely establishment and enforcement of local emissions standards. 

This document was researched and written by members of the BEST research team led by: Alaina Cubbon, Stuart Hayward, Frances Marshall and Marlie Powell.

In the next issue: Cultural Heritage – reconciling our unique cultural identity and the celebration of our differences.

To learn more about the effect of the pollution we create come out and support Dr. Jamie Bacon and the Amphibian Project on November 28 at 7:00pm in the Education Auditorium at BAMZ. During the lecture, entitled: “How Pollution is Affecting Bermuda’s Wildlife: Potential Implications for Human Health”, Dr. Bacon will discuss the her findings of the last 12 years of the project, including the deformities in cane toads, killifish and redeared slider terrapins due to the air and water pollution.