On Wednesday morning, a 25-year-old motorcyclist was seriously injured when he collided with a car at the intersection of Av. Isabel la Católica Avenue and Av. Lope de Vega Street. A private security camera recorded the accident and showed that the motorcycle was out its lane and ran a red light.
“The number of accidents involving motorcycles is exploding and most of them are the fault of the motorcyclists,” says traffic agent José Rodríguez. “Violation of the law almost seems to be norm among these operators which means we need to do a better job of enforcing the law.”
He adds that the number of motorcycles on Cuenca streets is growing rapidly and that the growth shows no sign of slowing down.
Among the most common violations, says Rodríguez, are excessive speed, failure to stay in traffic lanes and disrespect for traffic signals. “There are also cases of driving on sidewalks and driving in the wrong direction of one-way streets. Many of the operators act as if they are riding bicycles, not motor vehicles.”
According to Rodríguez, pedestrians share the blame in many accidents involving motorcycles. “It is common practice for pedestrians to cross the street in the middle of the block, often moving between cars waiting for a light change. When motorcycles move out of their lanes and attempt to drive between stationary cars, pedestrians and motorcycles sometimes collide.”
He said that three pedestrians have been killed in accidents with motorcycles so far this year in Cuenca, and about 50 more have been injured.
According to Ecuador’s National Traffic Agency (ANT), a large percentage of motorcyclists ignore equipment requirements. An ANT bulletin says that motorcyclists must wear helmets, gloves and knee and elbow pads. “These rules are routinely violated and this leads to higher numbers of injuries and more serious,” the bulletin says.
ANT reports that the number of motorcycles on Ecuador roads has increased from 86,000 in 2008 to 478,000 in 2016. It says the number grows by almost 30 percent a year.