Motorists speed past Blacktip Island’s Club Scuba Doo during rush hour Thursday. Local authorities worry a recent uptick in overtaking vehicles on Blacktip roads represents a growing public safety threat. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny, Jr.)
A surge in the number of vehicles overtaking other vehicles on Blacktip Island roads had island officials scrambling for solutions Thursday.
“Blacktip has two roads and a 25 miles per hour speed limit,” Chamber of Commerce president Kay Valve said. “Vehicles don’t overtake each other here. There’s never been a need to.
“Now, though, there’s three, four overtakings a week. It’s crazy,” Valve said. “Just today, a big construction truck blew past a rental car on that stretch in front of Club Scuba Doo. Unless you’re the police or the nurse, what’s the hurry?”
Witnesses were stunned.
“It was shocking. A pair of Scuba Doo guests had just stepped out on the side of the road,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “The wind from the truck blew their hats off, scared the hell out of them. The one guy’s eyes bugged out like big dinner plates.
“Away from the resorts, and on the east coast road, it’s always been a free for all, vehicle-wise,” Ephesians said. “But to drive hellbent-for-leather through town? It’s a miracle no one’s been hurt.”
Island police said curtailing the trend is a top concern.
“Safety of pedestrians, especially resort guests, is very much at risk,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Tourists on vacation don’t think. They climb on a rusty resort bike after not having ridden a bike in 30, 40, years, and wobble off down the road. Add two cars barreling down the road side-by-side to that mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
“The overtaking’s dangerous, but not illegal,” Marquette said. “The problem is the overtaker’s usually exceeding the 25 mph speed limit. That’s where we’re focusing our enforcement efforts.”
Some island officials are taking proactive measures.
“I’m pushing through a law banning overtaking on Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’ll send a clear message to motorists: if you want to pass someone, go somewhere else. Blacktip isn’t that kind of island, and it won’t become one.”
Social scientists worried about the trend’s cause.
“It speaks to an increasingly-agitated mental state of Blacktip motorists, this need to pass another car on an island with maybe two dozen vehicles,” Tiperon University-Blacktip sociology professor Moraye Meade said. “It also speaks to the changing nature of island society.
“We’re animals, competing for the same resources,” Meade said. “As the population grows, that competition intensifies. People fight to be the first, even if it’s just the first to happy hour. That’s a disturbing trend.”
Some residents fear the problem is a sign of things to come.
“Blacktip’s getting too crowded, like the big city with all this crazy traffic,” longtime resident Rosie Blenny, Jr. said. “If this keeps up, I’m going to have to move to a quieter island that’s not so stressful.”