Local cyclists is set to get a training boost with tomorrow’s official opening of a cycling lane around the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain. Works Minister Suruj Rambachan said, as he chaired yesterday’s launch during a press conference at his ministry’s Richmond and London Street, Port of Spain head office, that the cycling lane is a 14-year dream come true for the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF).

The initiative, a joint venture between the Ministry of Works, Ministry of Transport, TTCF and non-governmental organisation Share the Road Trinidad and Tobago, will see the inner lane of the roadway around the Savannah being opened to all riders between the hours of 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. – 10.30 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays and between the hours of 5 a.m. – 9 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Rambachan said that plans are already in place to develop a two kilometre piece of roadway identified by Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz in his Chaguanas East constituency and the walking/jogging track at Frederick Settlement in Caroni has been built eight feet wide instead of the customary five feet, both to accommodate cyclists.

Former national cycling standout Roger Gibbon, said: “We welcome this timely initiative and the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation supports any initiative that makes it safer for cyclists to use our roads. Gibbon said it presents a great opportunity for cycling since over the years this country has been able to produce cycling medals at major international meets with limited training facilities.

Robert Farrier, TTCF president, endorsed the sentiments expressed by Gibbon and added that the opening of the cycling lane augurs well for the sport as it will now help propel the cycling body’s grassroots project. “Bicycles are one of the fastest selling toys at Christmas but where do the children have to ride? The more young riders it have is the greater talent pool we have to select from.”

He said the initiative will also lend to T&T having more healthy people and thanked all the stakeholders involved in the initiative. “The Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation is definitely on-board with this project,” said Farrier.

Project stakeholder and cycling enthusiast Barry Edghill, said that while cycling lanes have existed since 1874, predominantly in Australia, Europe and the United States of America, T&T is creating its own history by being the first country in the Caribbean to implement the initiative.

“We are looking forward to stage where we will have designated cycling lanes established with the help of barricades and culverts. I am overwhelmed that this project is coming to fruition.” Cadiz, in his turn on the podium, praised the speedy response they received from the Works Minister when he was approached on the matter.

“I didn’t have to do any arm twisting to get his support because when Suruj was approached he said just bring the mechanics as to how it would be implemented and I would give it my blessings. He said that following tomorrow’s opening they will be hosting a ‘Diego to Debe’ charity ride on Easter Monday to celebrate the Share the Road concept and added that all proceeds from the event will go to the Children Life Fund.

And Share the Road T&T head, Sheldon Waithe, said the initiative is part of a national campaign for road safety. “The organisation was established last May following the death of former national cyclist Clinton Grant and we are currently engaging the Transport and the Communications ministries with proposals for the education and promotion of road safety, not just for cyclists but pedestrians as well.”

While the focus may seem to be on competitive riders, the lane will be accessible to all riders as a means of leisure or exercise and motorists are being asked to respect cyclists by sharing the road with them even outside of the mandated hours. Tomorrow’s opening ceremony will take place at the Queen’s Park Savannah opposite BpTT.