Washington Post Article On Bermuda, Scooters

January 5, 2020

The island’s roads, local drivers honking at people, and the “embarrassingly cute little” rental cars are some of the items covered by a travel writer in an interesting article in the Washington Post.

Writer Elizabeth Chang said, “Every paradise on Earth has a dirty little secret — mosquitoes, perhaps, or overcrowding or jellyfish. Even the Garden of Eden had a snake. On a recent trip to Bermuda, a tiny territory rich in natural beauty, historic locales and multihued charm, my husband and I ran smack into its hidden flaw: Its roads are unsettlingly dangerous.

“Though often referred to as an island, fishhook-shaped Bermuda is actually an archipelago of 138 islands measuring about 22 miles long and one mile wide; the eight largest islands are connected by bridges and a causeway. There are three main roads, all of which, we would learn, are narrow, winding and invariably shoulder-less — if not rimmed with vegetation or walls.

“For decades, I’d had the idyllic dream that if we ever got to Bermuda, we’d tour it by scooter, breezing by pastel cottages to iconic pink sand beaches, wind whipping our hair, stopping for anything interesting we saw along the way. But then I read a strong warning about scooters in our guidebook, which noted that “on average, there is one death every month” on Bermuda’s roads.

“And at a cruise ship presentation about Bermuda, the speaker, who had been delightfully frank about the island’s shortcomings — the food is too expensive; the souvenirs are made elsewhere — refused to discuss scooters. At all. “I’m not going to get into that,” he said.

“The 35 kph speed limit apparently was an inside joke [it’s closer to 80 kph — 50 mph — in practice], and, for some reason, every driver was honking at us. And I haven’t even mentioned that we had to drive on the wrong side of the road.

“We took a taxi from Horseshoe to Elbow Beach [3½ miles; 10 minutes; $15 with tip], regaling our friendly cabbie with our scooter horror story. He insisted that the drivers hadn’t been honking at us but had been tooting hello to people they knew; it turns out that Bermudians use their horns with the friendly abandon of a politician waving from a parade float.

“By our final day on the island, we still hadn’t tasted one of its famous fish sandwiches or made it to several sites on our Bermuda bucket list — and our ship was leaving at 3 p.m. So we rented an electric car.

“Tootling around in the embarrassingly cute little car, though, was both relaxing and fun. ”

You can read the full story here on the Washington Post website.

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Comments (24)

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  1. Steve says:

    Hardly a glowing article.

  2. Boston Whaler Owner says:

    and we wonder why cruise ship tourists dont spend money,it’s too expensive not just for them but for us too.

  3. Jeez says:

    Thanks for helping to ruin the reputation of our island by misrepresenting it. Well, there goes Bermuda! Funny, I get stuck going about 25 kph , 15mph, most days on the road. Takes me 15 to 20 mins to travel about 5 miles. Pathetic. At least Bermuda does not have serial killers and lunatics, terrorists, extremists, and pedos running around like America does. Perhaps that is why people can come here, to feel safe.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The author was conveying her impression. At least she did not mention that traffic laws only apply to most (not all) cars and no motorcycles (as anyone who drives in Bermuda regularly knows only too well).

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Trade your steering wheel for a set of handlebars for a month or two and then get back to me about how great you think ‘most’ of those cars are !

        • Joe Bloggs says:

          Like most Bermudian men, I only get to drive the car at weekends. I drive my bike into town every day, rain or shine. I know what the roads and the users of the roads are like.

          • Toodle-oo says:

            Then your drive to work must only be about 1/4 or a mile.
            The cars and trucks are no better than that select group of bike lunatics.
            And a very large percentage of car drivers graduated from motor bikes. It’s obvious that they didn’t abandon their stupidity once they got a steering wheel in their hands.

    • saud says:

      “Thanks for helping to ruin the reputation of our island by misrepresenting it. ”

      You mean your homophobic government isn’t trying to remove rights from some Bermudians?

  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    I thought the Minister of Hanky Panky put a stop to cruise ship tour directors bad mouthing Bermuda, even if some of what they say is factual.

  5. Dumb says:

    Ok let’s be clear! Bermuda roads are NOT dangerous!

    Any road deaths are 99% Bermudians who exceed speed limits and NOT tourists who are mindful of their driving speed and on the left!

    Stop with the dumb statements without any data to BACKUP your claims!!!

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Ok let’s be clear! Bermuda roads are NOT dangerous!*

      Of course our roads aren’t dangerous .. it’s the lunatics who use them!
      Are you this blind to everything going on around here ?

      In the early 90′s when I was involved in the tourist transportation industry 9 out of 10 visitors were saying back then that they had never seen such mayhem on the streets , and that was when we were nowhere near the unbridled chaos that we are now.
      I guess you’re next argument will be that it’s not as bad as where they come from .. duuh

  6. Dumb says:

    BTA should not let the authors dumb statements remain un-challenged! Get online and post counter to the damage the article may cause!!

  7. Shahidah says:

    To remark that we drive on the wrong side of the road is insulting and silly. What makes you think that America driving on the right hand side is correct? You sound just as stupid as ‘you know who’.


    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The author is American. Most Americans do not know anything of life outside the US. Hence the “wrong side of the road” comment. She is writing for an American audience. Give the lady a break.

  8. Eve says:

    Yes, the article is interesting as are the ‘comments’ posted here by those that believe the writer’s comments are not an accurate representation of segments of Bermuda tourism. There are “dirty little secrets’ associated with Bermuda tourism that have been ignored by the BDoT, BTA and many stakeholders. For years negative facts on Bermuda tourism were discussed on blogs & forums that many Bermudians were associated with. This article may irritate some but the writer’s comments should be no surprise.

    This article will have an effect on those considering a cruise to Bermuda and those who dreamed of zipping around the island on a scooter when selecting their destination. BTA and stakeholders can’t ignore the negative impact this article will have on those considering Bermuda as their holiday destination this coming season. Air arrival numbers continue to decline and BTA cannot sit back and keep preaching about “long-term”; Bermuda tourism needs to clean up the “dirty little secrets” and come up with “new secrets” that will bring a new attention to Bermuda tourism NOW, not in the long-term.

    Ms. Chang is deputy editor in Travel and Local Living for Washington Post and an occasional writer, in that position she is would qualify as an ‘Social Media Influencer’ with the opportunity too travel to various destinations with her trip sponsored by the destination’s stakeholders. BTA directly or indirectly sponsors hundreds of ‘influencer’ trips every year and but only a small percentage of the influencers have the established credibility and audience to persuade others with their trustworthiness and authenticity.

  9. Lawrence Rose says:

    I don’t know what the writer is talking about. When I was in Bermuda no one was speeding. And all the honking were just greetings. Everyone does it. I loved Bermuda. Let’s just hope that the writer influences only people like themselves. And as for the natives, don’t change a thing.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Dear Mr. Rose,

      Things have changed in the last 30 years. The unofficial speed limit now seems to be 55 or 60 kph for cars. I have not seen police operating a speed (radar) check in years. Motorcyclists frequently drive at 70 to 80 kph or more and overtake on blind curves in the road. That is why the road death and injury toll is so high these days.

  10. Glen Hosking says:

    Regardless of the minor issues with traffic, Bermuda is still the nicest place I’ve been and will continue to visit. Its hard to imagine why people think because they’ve gone on vacation somewhere that the world is gonna stop and get out of their way.
    Great island,great people,great rum,great beaches,what more could you ask for

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Thank you Mr. Hosking. That is most gratifying to hear.

  11. Mike west says:

    I’ve visited Bermuda twice and loved every moment friendly locals beautiful beaches and made so many new friends so it’s expensive remember everything is imported but if you want quality anywhere it comes at a price when I’m on vacation I don’t check prices I just enjoy my time in Bermuda it’s paradise and the beach is on your doorstep what more can one ask for its heaven and I’ll be back for more relaxing memories

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Thank you Mr. West. That is very good to hear.

  12. Eve says:

    Those who feel the writer’s comments are not accurate should read the ‘comments’ on the article in the Washington Post, most of the comments agree with the writer especially those from Bermudians and Island residents. One very wisely points out the danger of a two passenger scooter, it takes experience to be a scooter passenger. BTA should be paying close attention to the ‘comments’ too, they can glean good information from the ‘comments’ and it’s free.