Concerns about taxis speeding in and out of the Magens Bay area sparked a discussion Friday about the possibility of installing sidewalks, signs or speed bumps around the beach, which V.I. Police Department and other government representatives said could help keep pedestrians “secure” as they move up and down the roadway.
The concerns were brought up Friday at a meeting of the Magens Bay Authority board, whose members said that there have been “continuous ongoing problems” with vehicles, “especially” taxis, driving fast out of the beach, and back in after they pick up another load of passengers.
“The main issue with safety is the speed in which, and taxis are especially guilty of this, cars leave the park,” authority board chairman Robert Moron said.
“They leave at an excessive rate of speed and we have been told that there is some urgency with taxi tours and having to pick up another set of people before getting back to the beach. It’s about how close they are to the side of the road, endangering pedestrians or people exercising nearby.”
St. Thomas Administrator Merwin Potter, who represents Gov. Kenneth Mapp on the board, said Friday that the Magens Bay Authority has not filed a complaint about speeding taxis before. Right now, the V.I. Police Department doesn’t have the manpower to put in place regular controls around the beach to enforce the speed limit, as board members suggested, but Potter said that putting in speed bumps – which would have to be approved by Public Works – or investing in radar guns would be a short term fix.
“We can look into installing signage through Public Works,” VIPD Traffic Commander Lionel Bess said Friday. “I saw on my way in that the speed limit is already posted, so any driver should know how to proceed, but it has to be reinforced with the taxis.”
While Taxicab Commission members said they would have another conversation to their members about the issue, Executive Director Levron Sarauw Sr. said that the agency does not have radar guns to measure speed so the issue remains, when a ticket is given, about how to prove that the taxi was speeding.
At that point, the nearly one hour discussion turned to better data collection, with Magens Bay Authority board member Barbara Petersen saying that knowing how many people walk the roadway every day would be helpful in knowing how serious the threat is, along with how many taxis are speeding in and out.
Petersen suggested that police already at the beach could, instead of sitting at the gate, talk to drivers that appear to be speeding in and out or give them citations if they notice someone is moving too fast.
“That could make a real difference,” she said.
Magens Bay Authority Executive Director Hubert Brumant said most complaints come from joggers running early in the morning and that, in the past, Taxicab Commission officers have documented complaints of taxis and other private vehicles driving fast into the beach. Officers come in to work with the authority around 9 a.m., and Brumant said they could do better about monitoring, but more is still needed.
Moron said he and Potter would continue working on resolving the issue. Closing out the discussion, Potter said that proper signage would have to be installed before citations could be issued and that he would look into the cost of putting in the speed bumps.