Bajan ATV Association speaks out against Government’s proposed ban
Recently in Barbados, there has been an islandwide announcement which stated that All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) were banned from riding on public roads and in the Scotland District. This ban was said to start from April 9th, 2012.
Despite the official announcement and deadline, ATV riders are still currently allowed to take their vehicles on the road without legal intervention. It’s a situation which has many citizens of Barbados baffled.
To clear up this confusion, Adrenaline Sun spoke to representatives from the ATV community, Kevin Gobin and Carlos Godding about what the real ATV situation is and how this proposed ban will affect the riders.
How long have you been riding and what type of ATV do you own?
Kevin: I’ve been riding since ATVs were allowed in Barbados in 2006 and I own an automatic Cougar 125CC.
Why did you start riding ATVs?
Kevin: I had friends who used to ride crosses (Motocross bikes) and I lost quite a few of them over the years due to road fatalities. So I decided that it was better to ride an ATV because they are a lot safer.
We’ve all heard the announcement repeated on the radio and television that ATVs were banned but you are still riding on the roads. What’s the real situation?
From my point of view, for you to remove a vehicle from the road, you would have to refund that owner’s road tax and give them a letter of some sort indicating that the vehicle is no longer legal to use on the road and to this day the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) has not done that.
What is really happening is that a proposal for the Road Safety Act in Barbados that bans ATVs is being suggested. However, it has to go to Parliament first. At this point in time there has been no further announcement on the matter, so we will continue to ride until we are given notice to do otherwise.
What was your first reaction to the ban announcement?
Kevin: Well, I was wondering why the government would make a decision like this at this time. We had a meeting with the Minister of Transport the Hon. John Boyce in conjunction with Mike Isaacs who owns an ATV company called Quads 4 Me. There it was discovered that the Government does not have an ATV issue, they have a safety issue.
However, the representatives from MTW didn’t bring a very good argument as to why ATVs are unsafe because ATVs have not been involved in any accidents for a number of years now.
Have there been any serious accidents involving ATVs?
Kevin: In the 7 years since ATVs have been allowed on the roads in Barbados, there has been only one major accident, this involved an ATV and a Transport Board bus. There have been many hearsay accounts about this story, but there has been no official inquiry regarding who was at fault. It was later noted that the bus was overtaking a stationery vehicle around a dangerous corner, but when people heard that an ATV was involved they automatically blamed the ATV rider. Since then, there have been no police reported accidents involving ATVs in Barbados.
How would a ban affect the ATV community?
Kevin: If the ATVs are banned Mike Isaacs and his business Quads 4 Me would pay dearly because he has invested a lot of money in the ATV business in Barbados. His product is tourist oriented, where he gives tours and guided lessons on ATVs to persons who are vacationing here. As for the ATV Association, since we would not be allowed to use the public roads of Barbados we would have to take our activities to the private properties, which in many cases will be very difficult to find some place adequate.
While an ATV in my opinion is a 4-wheeled motorcycle, within the laws of Barbados it’s actually registered as a car. Can you explain how a new rider can get his ATV registered for road use?
Kevin: You’re right, ATVs are registered as cars in Barbados, so the same procedure for registering a car applies. Where getting insurance is concerned, there are some insurance companies that are reluctant to insure ATVs but this can also be said about cars that are a certain age as well.
However, the guys who own ATVs have retained their insurance policies year after year. The announcement that ATVs are banned is not true, so for now it’s just a matter of paying your insurance and road tax and going for a ride.
What is your solution to this proposed ban?
Kevin: Instead of the all-out ban, we would rather that the Government make some amendments and guidelines for the riders and users of ATVs on the road. I would suggest that instead of being registered as cars that ATVs should be registered as Quad Cycles, riders should wear helmets and use equipment to reduce noise emission. One of the things that we have in our bike club is that no ATV rider is allowed to ride between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. morning.
While Kevin rides recreationally, there are some ATVs riders in Barbados who perform stunts at various events. Adrenaline Sun spoke to stunt rider Carlos Godding about how the ban would affect him.
How long were you riding?
Carlos: About 2 years now.
What gear do you use when you’re riding?
Carlos: I use a helmet, gloves, chestplate, you would see some guys with a backpack that carries water, that they can drink when they are on the move.
What type of ATV do you ride?
Carlos: I ride a 700R Yamaha Raptor.
How has the proposed ban affected you as an ATV rider?
Carlos: It would be a wasted investment because each ATV costs over $10,000.00 and there are over 50 riders so that is a lot of money lost for a vehicle that cannot be ridden on the road. Some of the guys even depend on their ATVs as their main form of transportation to get to work.
A lot of people don’t understand that ATVs are not banned, so it can be very dangerous for us out there. For example, in a case where I could be entering a lane, there may be someone who would not let me into the lane because they think that I’m riding an illegal piece of equipment and I have no rights on the road, when that is not true.
The ATV riders are known to perform stunt exhibitions at different public events around Barbados. Can you tell us some of the safety measures that you take to ensure your safety as well as the onlookers?
Carlos: We do a lot of practice runs, depending on where the exhibition is we will look at the area which is designated for us to do the stunts and we obviously wear our equipment, helmet etc. For the audience, the promoters would barricade the area where we would be riding at a safe distance and no one who is not a rider is allowed in.
How regularly do you have exhibitions?
Carlos: We are asked about two to three times a month by various show promoters.
Carlos: Let me just say that ATVs are very safe. You can’t lose balance, you can break a lot harder and you have more control. The maximum speed for most ATVs is 100kmph so compared to cars and motorcycles, they are not fast at all.
Stunting wise, if one person decides to stunt on the road, it is up to the law to report them and punish them accordingly. I don’t believe that everyone should be punished because one person breaks the law. Many drivers and bikers do foolishness on the roads, ZR drivers also are known to do foolishness. At the end of the day is up to the individual and how they operate their piece of machinery.