It was a misunderstanding that got quite a number of people very upset on the island and one which cost quite a number of residents their bicycles. Over the weekend the San Pedro Police Department took it upon themselves to confiscate bicycles from people who did not have proper documentation for it, lacked reflectors, a bell and flashlight, without any notice being given to the community.
There was a big outcry from very angry residents who lost their bicycles and who disagreed with the way the situation was handled.
“I believe and think it’s not fair to take away someone’s bike; especially after working hours,” commented one resident who wrote in to Ambergris Today. “I am really angry at this. A bicycle is the only form of transportation that a lot of island residents can afford so as to go down town to get to work. Now officers will take away our bikes!?
These residents are complaining that the community was not properly notified that the police were going to start conducting this type of searches on bicycle owner and did not give them enough time to prepare and properly equip their bicycles with the needed accessories. Although there are laws governing the ownership of bicycles and the proper accessories that must be installed to legally use it on the streets, most of the laws are not enforced.
“We don’t carry the purchasing receipts or ownership papers with us,” continued the disgruntled resident. “Why don’t the traffic department and police come up with a better solution and assisting people to get all the things they want us to carry on our bikes instead of taking them away from us without any notice and just throwing them at the police station.”
Chris Nuñez of the Traffic Department explained to Ambergris Today that this situation was a big misunderstanding by the San Pedro Police Department. He stated that the San Pedro Town Council and Traffic Department want to start a campaign to properly register all bicycles on the island and kick in the laws which require riders to properly equip their bicycles with reflectors, lights and bells.
But after an initial meeting with the Town Council, the police took it upon themselves to start confiscating bicycles and taking residents by surprise. Mr. Nuñez stated that this was not the Town Council’s plan of action and that the S.P. Police jumped the gun. More planning and proper notification to give residents the time to prepare is in the works; the Police should not have been out there taking people’s bicycles away.
“I witnessed a lady coming out from work around 6:30p.m. just a couple days ago and her bike was taken from her,” commented one resident. “She cried like a baby because she had to walk from town all the way to DFC area where she lives and now she has no transportation to get to her work. She could have gotten a warning.”
Mr. Nuñez mentioned that he has talked with the SP Police Department and assures that this situation will not continue until the proper procedures are taken to enforce the law and give ample time to bike owners to prepare. The San Pedro Town Council and the Traffic Department will eventually implement more rules on bicycle owners but that will come in due time and with proper notification.