A few days ago, a colleague of mine – let’s call her Miss G – was incredibly late for a meeting with me. Not your standard ‘Ibiza late’ (10-15 minutes, with the obligatory shoulder shrug and ‘island time’ comment on arrival), but a full half hour. By which stage I was just a little bit grumpy and ready to leave. When she arrived and blamed the ‘horrendous traffic’ on the road from Santa Eulalia to Ibiza town, and I have to say – I DID NOT BELIEVE HER. Not one bit. As if there is traffic in Ibiza!
Fast forward a week, and today I found myself on the opposite end of the stick. Rushing into a meeting with brand new client a whopping 25 minutes late, flushed and embarrassed, frustrated and already late for the meeting that followed. It was the traffic of course (on the very same road), that made me so tardy – and I couldn’t help but wonder if my apologetic excuse was going to sound lame to my new acquaintance (thankfully, she’d experienced the same thing and completely understood – phew!). Speaking of lame – I know, I know.
Traffic is a BORING topic for a blog at this exciting time of year in Ibiza, but please bear with me – I have a really important point to make, I promise! As the summer officially kicks in, and the island’s population more than doubles with seasonal workers and part-time residents, plus the four million or so tourists who prepare to come through our ports, the traffic on Ibiza’s roads increases by approximately ONE ZILLION vehicles – mainly hire cars and scooters, but also those driving across on the ferry from their homelands. And our little roads are just not equipped to handle them all. It also doesn’t help that the local government also chooses the month of May to start repainting pedestrian crossings, beginning long overdue road works, re-tarmacing, digging up old piping, planting pretty new trees on the side of the roads – the lot.
Every year it’s the same – we have six blissful months of chilled out roads then BAM! Each and every island resident finds themselves late for work/school run/meetings/yoga/lunch, leading to dull conversations (and blogs) about the chaos on the roads. I have to admit, I’ve been getting a little trigger happy on the horn lately, as people are driving erratically, stopping in the middle of nowhere, leaving their indicators on for miles, going around the roundabout in the wrong lane (in Spain – always stick to the outside, as weird as it may feel), double parking without warning or hazard lights, cutting me off or taking up two lanes of traffic – infuriating!
We all need to start factoring in extra time spent on the overcrowded roundabouts on our daily commutes (for me – my 13-minute door-to-door drive is now taking around half an hour) – but that’s not all. We also need to factor in defensive driving techniques – because (AND HERE’S WHERE I MAKE MY POINT) sadly, many of the newbies on our roads just don’t drive with the right amount of caution. Maybe they’re driving on the other side of the road for the first time, maybe they’re in a rush to get to a party, maybe they’re lost and looking for directions on their GPS, and the absolute worst of all, perhaps they’re over the legal limit when it comes to drinking and driving. In the past few weeks there have been too many tragic fatalities on Ibiza’s roads – due to excessive speed, alcohol and drugs.
Whether you’re a born and bred local, a long-term resident or a fresh-faced tourist, there’s absolutely no excuse for getting behind the wheel if you are drunk or high. In the past, Ibiza has always had a reputation as a place where you can get away with flaunting the rules, but in today’s society, it’s just not on. The rules are clear, and they are in place for a reason – and sadly, this week’s tragedies show just how bad the repercussions of doing this can be. After all, it’s not just yourself that you are putting in danger – it is other people’s mothers, fathers, children, families and friends…
So as the summer officially kicks into gear as the clubs start to open this weekend, PLEASE HEAR MY PLEA! If you’re going to get behind the wheel in Ibiza, please be safe. Respect our roads. Respect the residents. Don’t drink and drive. Buckle up. Follow the road rules. Wear a helmet. Get directions before you get in the car. Stick to the speed limit. Be patient with other drivers. Be aware of all the other drivers (and especially those hardly-visible scooters) around you. Take your time – after all, our scenery is beautiful, you’re on holiday and you should enjoy the experience. Or even better, take a taxi…