An unfortunate delay
First of all let me say that there is no excuse for the manner in which the safety marshal that was manning the junction in question dealt with your particular situation on Saturday night.
Unfortunately there are a number of inaccuracies contained within your letter and since you have aired your concerns within a public forum I feel an obligation to respond within that same forum.
Firstly, there are two motorsport clubs that currently organise closed road events in Barbados – The Barbados Rally Club and The Motoring Club of Barbados Inc. The event on the 8th of September was an MCBI event. Rally Barbados is not multiple events but a single event normally held on the first weekend in June.
Both of these clubs submit proposals to the MTW every year for eight road closures during a single calendar year. Through a self-imposed collaboration, both clubs avoid using any particular venue that is affected by consistent traffic flow more than twice during a calendar year.
Stewart’s Hill has been used twice during 2012. All told, that is 16 hours granted for possible closure during the year. In reality, the roads are not closed for the full time granted. When cars are not present on the stage, residents and regular traffic are allowed free access provided clearance is obtained from a Motorsport Marshal. You may be asked to wait for a few minutes in order to allow the marshals time to clear all competition cars from the course, thereby ensuring your safe passage. Both clubs also endeavour to provide residents with letters indicating the times the roads will be shut and we publicly advertise all our events beforehand in the press and via posted billboards on the stage venues themselves.
We currently log the total duration the roads are actually shut during the time frames we are granted permission to do so. Because the competition cars start every 30 seconds, a field of 30 cars (roughly what started the event on the 8th) would mean that a stage venue would actually be shut for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a stretch. The cars then have to loop back around to the start of the stage usually after visiting another venue and this can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. During that time the road is reopened. This means that during a six hour time span with four runs of a stage venue, there will be roughly 90 minutes of actual time the road is closed.
In reality therefore, it is highly unlikely the Stewart’s Hill venue was actually shut for a combined total of more than three hours during the day/night on the 8th.
Although the club I belong to did not organise the event on the 8th I can confirm with some certainty that there were extended periods of time during which the road was in fact open for the regular flow of vehicular traffic. It seems very unfortunate that you arrived at a period when there were competition cars on the course, but as I stated earlier, it is more unfortunate that you were met with a surly and rude response from the Safety Marshal you refer to in your letter. This is unacceptable.
Whilst there will always be some disruption due to the nature of the sport that is enjoyed by thousands of spectators, fans and enthusiasts during the year, it is in the best interest of both clubs and the sport as a whole to ensure that there is as little disruption to the movement of traffic and that there is timely access for residents to their homes and communities. We must remain cognizant of the fact that there are people that consider the sport a nuisance and we will continue to work towards minimising any negative impact it may have.
– Neil Barnard
Public Relations Officer
The Barbados Rally Club