TT – There is a kind of positive energy associated with Carnival and particularly with the steelband movement. Players survive on less sleep and exhibit discipline and high levels of productivity in order to learn their Panorama tune.
This is something we need to understand about Carnival, pan and panyards and their social impact. I see several positives in the approach by the ordinary panman and panwoman, and, this year, the number of youngsters who populate the bands.
A few years ago, Pan Trinbago introduced preliminary judging at the panyards. This has morphed into busloads of supporters riding privately contracted maxi taxis from one panyard to the next, following the judges and attempting to maximise their experience of how each band is approaching their tune of choice.
Hundreds of people move from panyard to panyard on these judging nights and there is an atmosphere of happiness and peace.
An unintended consequence of this desire to follow the judges is the horrendous traffic jams along the judging route. Some brave souls will walk in the Woodbrook area; but generally supporters drive and this adds to the traffic congestion along the route.
Here’s an opportunity for a thinking Mayor of Port of Spain, the Minister of Works and Transport and Commissioner of Police. We can experiment with ‘a walkable city’ with a park-and-ride transit system just for the night. This would keep hundreds of cars off the street and introduce a healthy approach to this fun-filled evening.
If it works, we can then expand it so, little by little, we can demonstrate to our citizenry that we have to take a different approach to transportation—and that it can work.
This idea was taken from a book called “Walkable City” by Urbanist Jeff Speck. He answers the question: ‘How do we solve the problem of the suburbs?’