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#98165 - 03/01/05 07:02 AM traffic jams in San Pedro
kippe Offline
First of all thanks to Tom for making an official statement in a local publication about the traffic situation in San Pedro. Unfortunately San Pedro is no longer safe for anybody moving around be it in a golfcart, on foot or in a car. Please be careful if you rent a cart or a bicycle and of course if you are walking. I almost ran into a cart on my bicycle today, because it stopped in the middle of the street without warning, apparently the people saw something they wanted to photograph and I in turn was almost smashed by a VERY fast moving van. Sort of like a mini Autobahn pile-up. Another example. Again coming on my bicycle at a very dangerous corner, I have the rightaway, stop sign, and 5 cars kept on going without stopping and after them a police truck, that did stop, but did nothing to go after the offenders. We also have one-way streets, so please don't bicycle down them, especially not on the side streets, those that know that they are on a one-way street might come around the corner way to fast for comfort. Generally most people either drive as if they are in a big city, but not obeying any rules, or as if they are in San Pedro the way it used to be with very few cars and not obeying any rules either. This creates a rather dangerous situation for everybody. So again, especially when you are downtown, obey all traffic regulations and move around as if nobody else is. I just don't want to see any more people hurt.

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#98166 - 03/01/05 01:30 PM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
RICH GUY Offline
Rush Minute in San Pedro:

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#98167 - 03/01/05 05:49 PM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
collyk Offline
We've not long been back from Belize. Three weeks in total, 9 days of which was on Ambergris Caye. I will be writing a log for all and sundry in due course but it will be imcomplete as there were some amazing, but also tragic incidents and we don't want to upset anyone. On the note of the traffic jam though, we found ourselves in an eight cart back up at the cut waiting for the ferry. So we parked our cart in line, ordered chicken, beans and rice at Hammock House and went down to move the cart every ten minutes or so when the ferry had taken two carts across. It took two Belikens. On another note, I highly recommend the 'golf cart drop' being run by Hammock House. Wonder if another dropped off since we've been there.
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#98168 - 03/02/05 01:24 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
egcntrk Offline
kippe, was it cruise ship day? The traffic was horrific that day...5 ships turned loose on the island. Taxis, pedestrians, carts, cops everywhere. It was murder/suicide waiting to happen! We beat a hasty retreat out of town.

The remainder of our week was calm. I was amazed, that during the rain, everyone slowed down as they passed us, to make sure they didn't spash us. The local population is very considerate.

My guess, is you had a boorish, incosiderate boob stopping to take pics. You know, I am God syndrome. What is it with the "tourists" that leave all their manners at home? I just don't get it.

Been in the ferry rush hour spot. Found it to be enjoyable. Three golf carts and a ton of bikes waiting to cross. Spent the time sipping my drink, recuperating from the Northern path adventure,watching the sun go down over the lagoon, wondering how they get so many people on that ferry at one time without tipping and visiting with those surrounding us.

Wishing I was in that ferry crossing line right now. Far better cry from where I am at the moment.

Eg needs an AC vacation!

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#98169 - 03/02/05 04:15 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
NYgal Offline
I was concerned long ago with the carts, cars and bikes were making their rush through the streets.
Now I fear them a bit more each visit frown
Avoiding the streets is difficult, but I am able when need be smile

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#98170 - 03/02/05 07:19 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
LaurieMar Offline
I have never seen a "traffic jam" like that in the picture during my 5 previous trips to the island! When I was there in August, I was so amazed at the lack of people there. Could it be that it is high season now, plus a cruise ship day?

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#98171 - 03/02/05 08:02 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
kippe Offline
First of all "collyk" et al, this is not a matter of drinking beer and having chicken while you wait for the ferry and hoping a cart will drop, the rest of the guys waiting are just trying to get home after a long day's work, share some of your chicken and beer with them, they deserve it, they build the big houses up North for some pityful pay! It is a serious matter that needs to be brought to everybody's attention. I have been on this island for three years and it is just in the last six months or so that the traffic has gotten out of hand, even though it was bad before. Now it is totally out of hand and it is becoming increasingly dangerous, cruise ship day or not, cruise ship passengers walk! No more excuses from anybody on this board, love San Pedro as much as you want! I don't understand, I am trying to warn people about the dangers of travelling around San Pedro and the responses I get are not "thanks", but the standard excuses from the members of this board. Ambergris Caye is a holy grail and not to be touched! So, go ahead, drink and drive, stop whenever you feel like it, go the wrong way down a one way street, but if something happens, don't blame anybody but yourself! Thanks "rich guy' for a picture that could have been taken any day, any hour, almost anywhere downtown San Pedro!

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#98172 - 03/02/05 09:16 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
collyk Offline
kippe, the traffic jam consisted solely of drunk people coming home from the Palapa bar. There were no workers in the jam. I don't think anyone who has spent time in Belize is not aware that the people work very hard for very little. How (and if)individuals choose to support people they get to know in Belize is a personal choice and I am sure that more than second hand chicken is on offer. Lighten up for goodness sake. I haven't seen any excuses, just some light hearted banter. For goodness sake, people love Belize for the laid back attitude and lack of stress. Take a chill pill. While in Belize I heard this joke.

An Englishman, a Belizean and an American were sitting in a bar. The Englishman says 'We drive on the left side of the road and that is the ONLY way to drive'. The American says 'Well we drive on the right side of the road and that is the ONLY way to drive'. The Belizean takes his time and then says 'In Belize, we drive on the best side of the road and that truly is the ONLY way to drive'.
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#98173 - 03/02/05 11:31 AM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
LaurieMar Offline
Kippe: I am a tourist and admit, I have driven a golf cart after drinking while I was there on vacation (as thousands before and after me have done, including locals and others who have moved there). I also walk a lot and ride bikes while there. You have to be careful anywhere you go in the world and there are reckless people and idiots everywhere. Each of us can only be responsible for our own actions.

San Pedro is a desirable vacation destination. Desirable locations invite people. With people, come all kinds of problems. I would take the traffic jam there over any freeway here in California. I guess it is all relative! Your warnings about the potential dangers of traveling around San Pedro are appreciated and hopefully, people will realize them.

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#98174 - 03/02/05 04:38 PM Re: traffic jams in San Pedro
dolphin Offline
OK, I will stick my neck out again. The letter below was written two years ago, and updated when the pederstrian was killed by a taxi.
It is far from perfect, but food for thought.
Go ahead, I am braced for the backlash:

Will we ever deal with our traffic problems?

With the recent death of a pedestrian run over by a taxi, it is vital we address the growing problem of traffic that our island faces. This is an in-depth discussion of our growing traffic problem by Tom Vidrine, President of the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce:

The answers require sacrifice, cost, and inconvenience to everyone, but the benefits are worth the efforts. These solutions are not perfect, and by no means the only ones. I also realize that very few people will like all the proposals, but we must begin somewhere. And we must begin NOW!
Most reasonable people are aware of the problems caused by our present traffic situation; that includes local political parties, our local government and national government, and every organization and individual in our town, which are:

1. The inherent danger that too many large vehicles operating without enforced laws poses for the residents and their children of our community.
2. Destruction of our roads, which do not have the base for heavy traffic.
3. Lack of money to pave or maintain our roads.
4. The unattractiveness to our source of income, tourists.
5. The dust, mud, and congestion to our inhabitants.
6. The difficulty of travel and cost of repairs to all vehicles and their owners.

There are more problems but these cover the major issues, and I would rather discuss solutions, rather than the problems. Please be aware that this discussion below does not mean to include public vehicles, fire or police, mass transportation vehicles, nor the consideration that may be given to the truly handicapped. Although some of those vehicles present the biggest danger.

How do we begin to deal with traffic?

First, everyone has to realize how difficult it will be for officials to even begin to control and solve the problem. Whoever takes on the task will need the full support, understanding, and cooperation of everyone, but especially the Area Representative, Mayoress, Town Council, Police, and other leaders of our community. Strict and fair guidelines have to be established and enforced, and every effort must be made not to make exceptions without public awareness of the reasons for those exceptions if they must be made. Our society here is so used to being able to bend the rules by bribery, or get what they want if they have the right connections. We cannot allow our officials to be faced with constituents thinking they can demand to be that “exception”, and threaten our officials with votes if they do not use their “power” to help them bend those rules once decided upon. Officials must be able to say it is beyond their control.
The ACTCC must be a balanced committee of political representation. This is important so that as political parties change, the primary goal of limiting traffic must be a priority, and not used as a tool for political favoritism. It must be made up of people that realize the effect of traffic on our future, and these people must be appreciated for their wisdom and fairness in making tough decisions. To the extent possible, the applications should be limited by their own value, and limit the number of people that the committee is forced to deny. The Chairman has to be a strong, independent, fair individual that is much like a court judge should be. We must have someone that is dedicated to the intent, fair to the extreme, in a position not to be pressured or intimidated, and especially not to have his personal business affected by his position.
Second, to have the understanding that everyone does not have a “personal right” to a vehicle on this island, much less more than one. Contrary to Dr. Love’s opinion, at some point a decision has to be made to limit the number of vehicles on this island. Our island is narrow, small, and limited road space. How to do this is the question. Who decides? Who qualifies to even apply for a Permit? Countless islands have dealt with this same problem, and had to somehow create a limitation that balances need and growth with their island’s capability to handle the volume. We can do it also. But it will not be easy.

Third, the existing vehicles cannot be of a weight and size, and amount of road usage that does not have an appropriate place on this island, and those that are needed, must pay their share for the usage and damage to our streets, and in turn, pass this cost on to their customers.

Fourth, that to accomplish this, everyone must be willing to give up some rights, and shoulder the burden of cost and inconvenience that will occur when personal vehicles are limited, and it becomes more expensive to operate commercial vehicles. We must remember that the results of our efforts will benefit everyone in the future.

How do we begin?

1. Make the process of application for a new vehicle permit more difficult (As much as I personally hate to create more red tape) by requiring several proofs of qualifying to be considered.
a. Limit the number of golfcarts to be added to the island to a certain number per year, and stop allowing more large vehicles.
b. Limit the ACTCC meetings to once a quarter, so that these volunteers are not inconvenienced, and forced to face this issue continuously.
c. Require a Public Notice by Applicant, much like the Liquor License does.
d. Require a Voter’s Registration card for Belizeans, a copy of Residency for others, Belize Driver’s License, a Social Security Card, a receipt of paid property taxes. Anything that makes it more difficult to apply, as well as given Belizeans first opportunity, and legal Residents second, and almost impossible for Non-Residents.
e. Even to the point of establishing a point system that at least creates a priority of need and right to own.
f. Register and list every vehicle on this island as the present Law dictates so that the officials know the size of the problem they are dealing with.

2. Make the approvals of any new or replacement vehicles transparent. Many of the issues I dealt with during this moratorium were lack of trust in our officials, and people seeing new vehicles arrive without knowing the real reason they are here. In every instance that I investigated, arriving vehicles had legal prior approvals, a temporary permit, or were a replacement. The problem is people’s perception of seeing a new vehicle on the island is that someone somehow got preferential treatment and was getting around the law. So of course everyone wants to be the exception too. The answer is publication of every new or replacement permit issued and the reason why it was issued. Either let the ACTCC publish its actions on a regular basis, or require a Public Notice of a departing or arriving vehicle, much like applications for Liquor Licenses are published.
3. Solicit the help and support of all freight companies not to transport vehicles without permits. They are the key to arriving vehicles. Crystal, Caribbean, and Varela shipping are a vital part of our town, and must care about our island’s future. All of them are locally operated and have a personal interest in their children’s future. They are also the major users of large vehicles. Will they care enough to limit themselves? I must believe so. If any of them chooses to disregard the community’s effort, make that public and/or risk their business license to operate.

4. Make owning a large vehicle more unattractive by expense or limitations, and therefore making a golfcart or even a bicycle a better choice.
a. Restrict areas or streets that large vehicles are allowed on.
b. Restrict the parking of all vehicles and allow loading or unloading only.
c. Increase the annual cost of having a large vehicle on the island, and shift the cost of road repair to those actually using the roads, rather than using the taxes of all property owners.
d. Not allow the replacement of a personal car, van, or truck, and only allow the replacement of personal vehicles as a golfcart.
e. Improvements on the roads will automatically take away the high cost of maintaining a golfcart, and increase the desire to use one.

5. Making NOT owning a vehicle even more attractive.
a. Sidewalks for pedestrians.
b. Make owning a bicycle a pleasure, with bikeways and bike racks.
c. Stepping up enforcement and cracking down on the theft of bikes.
d. Register bikes to help with identification and enforcement.
e. The increased cost of owning a vehicle and its limited use makes other forms of transportation more desirable.

6. Allow only “commercial” plated cars, trucks, and vans on the island, and raising the cost of their use on the island. Many commercial businesses can easily operate with a golfcart, even if it has to be gas-powered or extended. Do not even allow additional commercial vehicles, and require the purchase of an existing car or truck, and create a market for the existing personal ones.

7. Originally vehicles were not allowed to be owned by corporations, and permits were only issued to individuals, and allowing only one vehicle per individual. This does create some problems for investors with the vehicles being in an individual’s name, but it goes a long way towards establishing who owns how many vehicles, and prevents hidden multiple ownership by the creation of corporations. It also encourages partnerships with Belizeans by incoming investors.

8. Somehow taxis and golfcart rental companies need to be limited, and a viable solution for them to sell their older vehicles to occasionally upgrade and modernize without continually adding to the number of vehicles on the island. Consider only once a year allowing golfcart rental companies to apply for the upgrades for the coming season.

9. Vehicles per household were also a consideration in granting a permit, and households without vehicles were given priority to those already having a vehicle.

10. Individuals that sold or transferred their permit were required to sign a document giving up their right to request another vehicle permit before their permit was transferred. For the seller to avoid this, the buyer must have already applied for and qualified for their own permit. The list of individuals giving up their right to a permit should be maintained, and reviewed before any application is accepted.

11. Improve taxi services
a. Allow them more profit by not adding more competing vehicles on the island.
b. Require taxis to be a part of an association to self-regulate operations and fees.
c. Require drivers to be licensed as a taxi driver, with the appropriate training.
d. Get the associations to operate by dispatchers, rather than a congestion of cabs waiting for customers.
e. Encourage them to buy their own lot for parking space rather than using public streets.
f. Make owning a taxi a valuable and profitable privilege.
g. Punish those that break the law by losing that privilege, or a suspension of that privilege for a period of time.
h. Allow replacements to be only smaller, 3-cylinder vans, but give a waver on duty, a selection of choices, and a time frame in which they can begin to convert and plan for acquiring a new vehicle.
i. By limiting personal vehicles, the increased demand will help the taxi drivers cope with the implementation of public transportation.

12. Providing public transportation as an alternative to owning a vehicle. It is vital to provide inexpensive transportation for people that live here if any strict limitations on owning vehicles are ever to be implemented. Let the taxis serve the arriving and departing tourists, and residents that can afford the prices. But at least give the local workers and children a less expensive choice.

13. Restricted parking on public streets would go a long way towards helping traffic flow. Create the parking area at the old soccer field or at the new back seawall. Allow only very short-term parking on Middle and Front Street. Restrict commercial parking to loading and unloading only, and driver must remain with the vehicle.

14. Downsize existing large, heavy vehicles by replacement with smaller trucks even if they have to make more loads. Doing this would create more jobs. Lack of vehicles will create a cost, and owners of those vehicles, and their customers, should carry that burden.

15. Gas vehicles (golfcarts & ATVs) now have begun to create a noise problem, and that will continue to get much worse as mufflers inevitably rust away. None of us want an island that sounds like a thousand mowing machines, but distance and road quality create a limited need for this type of vehicle. So their existence should be limited to commercial use or private homes distant from town. Also considered should be the number of passengers carried to size, and restrict four-wheelers to those that may need them because of lack of roads to their homes. Mopeds and smaller motorbikes serve the same purpose of individual transportation, and do not require the same parking space as other vehicles.

16. Restrict applicants to those individuals that should have “first right”. Whatever “qualifications” are decided upon, it would limit the number of applicants and relieve the pressure on the ACTCC to even have to consider their application. This is a difficult task, but somehow limitations must be implemented, and someone must establish priorities. Some ideas are:

a. A Belizean
A Belizean should have at least a first right to having a vehicle, and get some special consideration before others. The temptation below is to give a Belizean even more consideration, but by law, both Commonwealth citizens and Legal Residents are supposed to have the same basic rights. So as an alternative, value is given to voter registration, social security registration, and other requirements that a Belizean is more likely to meet. If there is some legal basis, Belizeans should be given some extra priority.

b. Registered to vote in Ambergris Caye.
Why should anyone be given a vehicle if not a resident of this island and participates in the elections? How many Belizeans have a home elsewhere, and move here to work for a few years, and leave, selling their vehicle to someone else? Let any Belizean that wants a vehicle take the extra step to register to vote locally, and make that commitment to make this island his new home if they want to be considered to own a vehicle.

c. Commonwealth Residents
Commonwealth citizens have an additional right to live here above citizens of other countries. They are allowed to live here, but should establish residency and register to vote if they want a vehicle.

d. Alien Legal Residency
Legal alien residents of Belize are not allowed to vote, but have made a commitment to live here, and are legally accepted. Let newcomers, both personal and commercial, earn a right to a vehicle by the commitment to become a legal full-time resident. How many “gringos” come here with money and buy a vehicle, then have their business fail or become dissatisfied and leave with their vehicle still on the island?

e. Land Owner
Landowners are paying the taxes supporting our roads. Shouldn’t they be given some priority in the selection? Should renters, part-time condo owners, and timeshare owners that are not residents be given any priority over someone that lives here full time, and is paying the taxes that support our streets?

f. Belize Driver’s License
Shouldn’t the applicant at least have a legal license to drive in Belize, and has made the effort to acquire a Belizean Driving License before granting him a vehicle?

g. Belize Social Security
Make the effort to get a Belize Social Security card an additional requirement for consideration. A Belizean, a Commonwealth citizen, a Legal Resident, or anyone with a work permit can register. Shouldn’t anyone with a job or operating a business have some priority?

h. Vehicles in Household
We all realize that many times more than one adult live in a household, and often have a need for more than one vehicle, but should they be given equal consideration to a household without any?

i. Distance from town
Establish some distance from town that gives the homeowner some extra consideration for a vehicle, and especially a gas-powered vehicle. Maybe consider a 2-mile limit, or even extra consideration for being over 4 miles from town?


One Step in the Right Direction

Creation of a Point System that would at least prioritize the Applicants for new Permits by bringing to the top of the list those that deserve consideration, without bribes, prejudice or political connections. This would at least identify for the ACTCC some values in the review of applications, and greatly decrease the number of applications that must be refused, and the number of people rejected which creates mistrust and animosity towards those making the decisions.

Just as an example:

Belizean 1 Point
Commonwealth Citizen 1 Point
Foreign Legal Resident 1 Point
Land Owner with Paid Taxes 1 Point
Registered to vote locally 1 Point
Belizean Driver’s License 1 Point
Belize Social Security Registration 1 Point
No vehicle in Household 1 Point
Distance from town hall:
(2 Miles) 1 Point
(4 Miles) 2 Points

If an Applicant would be required to have at least 6 Points to be considered or a new, or even a replacement application, many of the present applications would be avoided, and much of the pressure would be taken off of our officials. Then the ACTCC would only have a limited number of applications to review, and could consider them in order of number of points. With a limitation on number of new permits per year, only the top 10 or so would be approved.
This can be done without a new law, only a creation of a set of standards by which the ACTCC reviews applications. Anyone could still pay $25 to apply, but know that only the highest point applications will even be considered.
The changes in the Statutory Instrument address many of these issues, and it is vital that we pressure our government to pass them into law.
I realize that some of my suggestions may anger many people, but someone, somehow, has to take a stand, and find solutions and answers to these issues before it gets any worse.

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