Petal blooms for road safety


Petal blooms for road safety

Observer writer

Friday, September 20, 2019

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HANOVER is known for its long stretch of white sand beaches, sugar cane, and proliferation of motorcycles. Petal Gayle, 26, is one of those motorcycle drivers.

She was one of 21 participants, and only female, attending Youth Innovation Centres motorcycle safety workshop in Lucea last Sunday. The event, hosted by Back To Basics (BTB), was free to the public.

“I heard about the programme through my company Celebration Brands. They recommended that I attend,” Gayle told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

A sales representative for Celebration Brands Limited, she uses her motorcycle — an India-made 200cc Special Edition — daily for doing work in the neighbouring parish of St Elizabeth.

“I also have a small bar and I use the bike to carry goods for it,” she said.

The 26-year-old said she has been riding since 19, picking up tips and a few lessons from an ex-boyfriend. Yet, with seven years of riding behind her, she still found the BTB workshop a revelation.

“The workshop was 100 per cent beneficial to me, I learned so much,” she said.

She feels the knowledge gained from the workshop could assist in stemming the tide of fatalities occurring in the Jamaica's western end.

“We need to have more Back To Basics workshops in the area, especially to reach out to more younger riders to give them the proper training like I got,” she told Auto.

In May, a total 173 road death were recorded; 55 were motorcycle-related.

According to statistics from the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, more than 400 motorcyclists have been killed in Jamaica between 2015 and 2019, with the majority of deaths occurring in western Jamaica: St James, Hanover, Trelawny, Westmoreland, and St Elizabeth.

The RSU cites “behavioural issuses as the root cause”.

Gayle said she will be passing on the information to friends and family members who also ride.

“I'll be taking my nephews to the next workshop,” she said.

Back to Basics's conceptualiser Tarik Kiddoe was happy to have Gayle attend the workshop and hopes she won't be the last, noting that women have been attending the BTB events in other regions like Kingston.

“Overall, the females who ride motorcycles in the west are not only smaller in numbers, but their use of motorcycles tends to be more limited. Even if they do hear about our event, they may feel like they don't need to attend because they aren't into riding as much as the males. Petal is very different because she has to ride extensively for a living,” he said.

Kiddoe made it clear that motorcycle safety is for everyone who operates one.

“Our view though, is that if you're riding at all you should come. It can only make you safer. We want the safety knowledge we share to eventually be common knowledge in every household with a motorcycle in Jamaica,” he added.

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