Gettin 'Round - Driving and road conditions on Long Island
T'ings to Know
DRIVE ON THE LEFT!
BUCKLE SEAT BELTS!
OBEY SPEED LIMITS!
Especially true in settlements and in school zones.
Dangerous curve signs mean just that. SLOW DOWN!
BE AWARE OF GOATS!Sort of like deer, where there's one there's another. And like deer, they just sort of meander onto and off the road.
Roses, Long Island, Bahamas
BEACH ROAD CONDITIONS
With few exceptions, you’ll have to take a road from the QH to the beach. You’ll find a few paved but be forewarned most are not.
Beach roads will be some combination of sand, hard pan (scraped limestone), and paved. Paving, if it occurs, is usually done to go over the high ridge that runs the length of the island. This is done to prevent major washout and rutting that would otherwise occur during heavy rains.
Many of the beach roads are only one car width, so if you meet someone, who yields to whom or who has to back up to a convenient passing spot may be a matter of stopping and talking it over. There may be an island convention in this regards, but I’m not aware of one.
Particularly on the steeper grades going over the ridge yielding may be a problem for either party. Although from my recollection, most of the roads going over the ridge are wide enough for two cars to pass if executed very carefully and slowlyl
Many of these roads have blind curves so go slow. Keeping a window down to listen is good practice. So is use of a horn.
Many also have brush growing into them. If you have a pristine car, you may not want to visit some beaches.
The Queen’s Highway (hereafter referred to as QH) which runs the length of the island is the only main highway. It is not a super highway. Hurricane Joaquin in late 2015 did major damage in various sections, particularly the mid section of the island from Clarencetown to Salt Pond.
Many culverts over drainage ditches (for lack of a better term) were washed out and although the culverts have been replaced, as of this writing (early 2016) the road surfaces have not been fully restored.
In planning a trip, an average QH speed to use is 35 mph. So round trip travel time from say Stella Maris in the north to Gordons at the very southern end of the island is roughly four hours. Plan your trips accordingly and don’t try to cram too much into one trip. You can always come back.
When a car passes you in the opposite direction, it’s customary and polite to give a “Long Islander” wave, a slow raising of the index (pointer) finger as one passes.
There is a tendency for Long Island drivers to stick to the center of the road as shoulders don’t exist in a manner that you may be accustomed and drivers will only move to the side at the last minute. Although it is unnerving, they do move over. Best advice: slow down and move over first.
Night time driving can be difficult. Although there are street lights in the settlements, in many long stretches there aren’t. Head lights can be dimmer than you are used to due to the lenses being abraded by salt and sand. Adjust your speed accordingly.
Hard pan road, Long Island, Bahamas
Hard pan roads such as this one going over the ridge and down to the beaches at McKinnons can be rutted.
If you’ve never driven on them, follow these guidelines:
- Go slow
- Ride the ridges
If you go down in the ruts, you’re sure to rip off a muffler or worse. You may want to shift down to a lower gear, say 2nd, especially if the hard pan is on a grade.
It may take ten minutes to go a mile on some of these roads to reach the beach of interest, but you’ll be well rewarded and glad you took the time.
In the directions, I’ll try and give an indication of the road type and what to expect when driving.