Tourists in Bermuda cannot hire cars. The only form of independent, motorised transportation in Bermuda available to tourists is rental scooters and mopeds. Strictly speaking, a moped carries one person, whilst a scooter is more powerful and can carry a passenger. The two terms are frequently used interchangeably.
No licence is required for tourists but drivers must be 18 years old. Children can sit on the back as passengers.
Although fuel is expensive in Bermuda, it doesn’t take much to fill a scooter’s tank and the bikes use very little gas. Most gas stations are open 07:00 – 19:00 but the Esso City Auto Market in Hamilton is open 24 hours. The Department of Tourism’s map, widely available on the island, shows the locations of all gas stations.
Despite some safety concerns, hiring a scooter is a great way to explore the island. It’s quite remarkable many attractions can be seen in one day when riding one.
Scooter Rental Companies
The following companies rent scooters to tourists:
- Elbow Beach Cycles – Based at the Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach
- Oleander Cycles – Branches in Hamilton, St George, Paget, Dockyard, and at Grotto Bay
- Smatt’s Cycle Livery – Branches at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Fairmont Southampton and Rosewood Tucker’s Point
Wheels Cycles is no longer in business.
All cycle companies in Bermuda are required to provide a short riding lesson before hiring a scooter to a tourist. Those who don’t feel confident after the lesson should feel free to cancel.
A helmet, lock, and luggage basket come as part of the hire package. Companies will gladly deliver and collect the scooter from your hotel or cruise ship.
In 2008 there were 17 fatalities on Bermuda’s roads, equivalent to 28 per 100,000 residents and three times higher than the OECD average. To put it into context, comparable rates per 100,000 residents were 5.6 for the UK, 8.8 for Canada, and 15.4 for the United States.
Scooter riders sustain over 80 percent of traffic related injuries in Bermuda. Tourists are more likely to be involved in an accident than residents.
Measures to improve road safety have reduced the number of casualties in recent years. In 2011 there were 9 road deaths, the lowest figure since 2004. In 2012 there were also 9 fatalities on the road. In the first 6 months of 2013 there were 5 road deaths (see detailed statistics).
Total road traffic collisions also show a downward trend. In 2008 there were 2,458 recorded road traffic collisions. The figures for 2011 and 2012 were 1,955 and 1,815.
Despite the improving statistics, the decision to hire a scooter in Bermuda should not be taken lightly.
Scooters are inherently more dangerous than cars but in Bermuda additional factors come into play:
- Many roads in Bermuda are winding, steep and narrow. Total concentration is required.
- Driving in Bermuda is on the left side of the road. It’s quite easy to forget this.
- The driving habits of some locals can be intimidating. Most Bermudians have been driving scooters since they were at school. They’re extremely skilful and think nothing of quickly weaving between other traffic with just inches to spare.
- Tourists pose one of the biggest dangers for other road users. It’s perfectly legal for somebody with no driving experience at all to be let loose on Bermuda’s roads.
- The speed limit of 35 km per hour is largely ignored by locals.
If you decide to rent a scooter, always wear a helmet. Shades or visors are also a good idea, as a flying cockroach in the eye can be quite a distraction when driving.
When on the roads it’s quite common to hear a lot of horns hooting. This can be rather distracting at first as you may feel that you are driving incorrectly. More often than not it’s merely Bermudians greeting their friends.
Getting lost isn’t really a problem. There are only three main roads in Bermuda and the island is just two miles across at its widest point. Drive for any distance and you will soon find one of them.