Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, the government redirected the traffic flow in Road Town as part of efforts to reduce the congestion that has plagued the capital for decades.

For a while, the plan seemed to work. Then the pandemic restrictions lifted, cruise ships returned, and traffic levels steadily grew back to their pre-pandemic level.

Now it is clear that the new system is not the answer. Indeed, it seems to have made Road Town more dangerous without alleviating the congestion.

Currently, the capital is exceedingly difficult for even the most able-bodied resident to navigate on foot — to say nothing of first-time visitors or people who are elderly or disabled.

The problems are ubiquitous and obvious:

• Many areas lack sidewalks entirely, and sidewalks that do exist are often barely walkable.

• Accommodations for wheelchair users are sporadic at best, often leaving them to navigate in the road or parking lots while dodging cars.

• Main Street — which should be a prime attraction for tourists and a relaxing hang-out for residents — is extraordinarily difficult to navigate on foot.

• The pedestrian crossing signals at the busy intersection of Administration and Waterfront drives don’t work properly.

• Parking is growing ever more difficult.

• The one-way traffic on Waterfront Drive and De Castro Street has created two-lane stretches where motorists now drive faster than ever.

The one recent bright spot is the free electric shuttle service that government introduced last year. It was an important step in the right direction, but the system needs to be more consistent and well-marked.

Moving forward, dramatic action is needed in several areas to improve the navigability, safety and liveability of the capital.

Fortunately, various reasonable solutions have been recommended in studies including the draft Road Town Improvement Project report in 2007: constructing parking garages on the edges of town supported by a consistent park-and-ride system; closing Main Street to vehicular traffic during much of the day; charging a fee for parking in certain areas; building pedestrian walkways, including along the waterfront from the Tortola Pier Park to the Road Town ferry terminal; dramatically improving public transportation across Tortola; setting up better crosswalks; and planting more trees and other vegetation.

Another urgently needed step is a comprehensive sidewalk and crosswalk redesign that allows pedestrians to navigate all areas of the capital safely even if they are in a wheelchair.

Simultaneously, a professional traffic study should be carried out to review the government’s 2020 changes and find a better solution. In the meantime, speed-bumps or other traffic control devices should be installed along Waterfront Drive and De Castro Street to slow drivers down.

Currently, the capital is a deadly accident waiting to happen. The territory must do better.