Saturday, Jun 06th

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Editorial - Follow the rules

It may not seem like big deal, but the average motorist is probably pleased about Sunday afternoon's surprise police control in the Simpson Bay/Cole Bay area (see Monday paper). For one thing, the law enforcement action took off the street, at least temporarily, 10 bikes that apparently were not in compliance with regulations.

That the behaviour of some riders of scooters, motorcycles and quads on the island leaves a lot to be desired is no secret. It's also a source of much irritation and even apprehension among fellow road users.

Perhaps those who do so-called wheelies and/or weave in and out of moving traffic as though they own the place don't fully realise it, but others are often genuinely concerned about their wellbeing. Moreover, most people for obvious reasons don't want to get into an accident, particularly with a vehicle that offers its driver so little protection.

What makes it worse is that the culprits in many cases don't even wear safety helmets, even though doing so is legally required on the Dutch side. There may be a tendency to ignore this violation, perhaps because visitors also rent bikes to tour the destination, but once something is structurally allowed it usually becomes a bad habit that's hard to break.

It's been argued in the past that people who drive without helmets, as is still allowed on the French side, are risking harm only to themselves. That may be true in a strict sense, but overlooks the psychological effect that a crash involving such a careless biker and certainly one with fatal consequences could have on the other party.

The time for tolerance in this regard has long passed. If these vehicles are to continue operating on St. Maarten their drivers simply must learn to follow the rules like everybody else, period.