Parents of CARIFTA triathlon and aquathlon athletes request safer roads

|Sports|Parents of CARIFTA triathlon and aquathlon athletes request safer roadsSports

The Nassau GuardianSend an emailApril 19, 2023 299 3 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 The Bahamas’ national triathlon and aquathlon team remains dedicated to their sport and representing The Bahamas. The parents of team members continue to express concerns about a lack of road safety for cyclists and runners here in The Bahamas. Shown are some of the team members along with coaches and chaperones.

Parents of the Bahamian CARIFTA triathlon and aquathlon team members continue to express concerns about a lack of road safety for cyclists and runners here in The Bahamas.

The qualifying events for CARIFTA 2023 are now taking place, from March to May, and the training locations to prepare for these CARIFTA qualifying events are still subject to safety issues from motorists who are not aware or appear to be sensitive to these young athletes training on their bicycles and running on the sides of the road, according to the group of parents.

Some of the parents are calling for road safety signs to be placed at strategic locations where these athletes train the most to help motorists develop a sense of awareness and protection for these athletes and other road users most vulnerable to direct injuries from contact with vehicles.

The 2023 CARIFTA Triathlon and Aquathlon events will be held in The Bahamas, August 26-27. This is the year to promote these two events in this country and the promotion of road safety is just as important for these athletes, said the group of parents. The development of a road safety culture should be extended to include other cyclists, runners and pedestrians, according to the parents.

The 2022 CARIFTA Triathlon and Aquathlon events took place in Bermuda, November 12-13, 2022. A total of 20 athletes from The Bahamas participated, ranging in ages from 11 to 19 years. Overall, Team Bahamas performed well, coming in fifth out of eight countries. The team members won two silver medals and one bronze medal.

Leading up to CARIFTA 2022, the team trained consistently, four days of the week, for almost six months, dedicating Saturday mornings from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. to cycling from Jaws Beach around Albany and Clifton Pier, and Sunday mornings from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. training in all three triathlon events. These early hours were selected as there were less vehicles on the roads, thus safer for the young athletes to train.

Despite training at these early hours, using proper cycling gear with lights and bright-colored tri-suits and/or helmets, riding in groups in straight lines, and having a lead vehicle in the front and two other vehicles in the back, there were too many incidences where the children had close encounters with cars being driven at high speeds or not wanting to wait for an appropriate time to overtake them, as according to the group of parents.

“As parents, we stayed for the training sessions and often stood at strategic locations along the children’s cycling and running routes to wave and call out to cars that were either speeding or trying to overtake the athletes when there could have been a risk of impact,” said a parent of one of the athletes of the 2022 CARIFTA Triathlon and Aquathlon team. “These incidences affected us terribly and definitely affected the confidence of the athletes to train on the roads. Our children relayed to us feeling the wind of the vehicles speeding past them, traveling too closely. There was an incident when an 11-year-old athlete, while cycling, tried to turn into Jaws Beach from the southwestern road and a motorcycle traveling behind him did not want to stop to allow him to turn. The motorist sped around him, stopping him from making the turn.

“These examples are not acceptable. These are our children training on the roads of the country that they want to represent at regional and international events. The fact that they are using the roads as cyclists and runners should be enough of a reason for motorists to reduce their speed and become vigilant to their presence. If they were hit, they would be injured or killed.

“As parents of this team of young triathlon athletes, we are requesting safer roads for our children to train. The only way to protect our athletes is to make motorists more aware of their presence as road users. This means putting up road signage, creating cycle lanes that motorists cannot enter, and insisting on moderate speeds for these training areas.

“There are too many unconscious drivers who do not value the safety of the most vulnerable road users. Putting up road signage, cycle lanes and reduced speed limits will help to create an awareness of road safety for all road users, including our young athletes who want to excel in their sport and represent The Bahamas well.”

As mentioned, training is underway for spots on this year’s CARIFTA Triathlon and Aquathlon team. The 2023 CARIFTA Triathlon and Aquathlon events are set for August 26-27 in The Bahamas.

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