21 April 2021
Every 22 April, people around the world pause to celebrate Earth Day. Some post pictures on social media while others plant trees. Others choose to walk or cycle to work, leaving their fossil fuel-powered vehicles at home for a day. It has become a day to participate in environmentally friendly activities that commemorate the importance of protecting — and saving — our living, breathing planet.
At Camana Bay, it’s easy to celebrate Earth Day every day of the year. Walkable by design, the Town Centre offers a number of ways to contribute to a healthier planet. From recycling drop-off spots and electric vehicle charging stations to bike lanes and tree-lined pedestrian paths, this mixed-use destination is a real-life example of New Urbanism, sustainability and responsible master planning. Its 685-acre footprint offers convenient pedestrian connectivity, allowing people to travel throughout the town without use of a car. Its thoughtfully landscaped paths and breezy corridors — which pay tribute to the local environment — offer a comfortable journey to those choosing to walk or cycle.
“I love my four-minute walk to work,” says Anna Wootton, a resident of The Terraces, Camana Bay’s first for-lease townhomes. Wootton, who also works in Camana Bay, says that many of her habits have changed for the better since moving into the Town Centre.
“I use my car once a week,” she says. “Walking is my new way of life. I walk to work, to the gym, to get groceries, to run errands, to meet friends for lunch or for dinner … and I also jog around the town for fitness.”
Wootton’s new habits include a run that takes her south to OLEA and Cayman International School, and then west to Seven Mile Beach before returning home across the Rise, Camana Bay’s elevated footpath that safely connects Camana Bay to West Bay Road.
“I often stop at the top of the Rise and enjoy the gardens and the view — it’s a beautiful and very peaceful part of my run,” she says.
Wootton is also pleased to be contributing to a healthier environment.
“By getting around more on foot, I’m saving money on gas and reducing my carbon footprint.”
Zero emission alternatives
Another alternative to the use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles is cycling. Over the past few years, the use of bicycles around Grand Cayman has increased in popularity.
Daniel Powery launched the environmentally friendly bicycle rental company, Cycle Cayman, in May 2019 with a docking station in Camana Bay. Users simply download Cycle Cayman’s app, set up an account and they can then hop on a bike and go.
“With the growing population and current technological capabilities on island, we decided that our economic climate was ready for this type of transportation option,” Powery said after the launch of the company. “Our solar-powered bicycle [rental] system not only aids environmental and green initiatives, but also provides a great option to stay physically active.”
With more people riding bicycles around Camana Bay, Dart established bike fixing stations in the Town Centre. These stations allow bicyclists free access to tools for maintenance and quick repairs, as well as a pump for flat tires.
“It’s an amenity worth providing at no charge,” says Paul Henry, Dart’s manager of business innovation. “It means more folks are cycling and less fossil fuels are being used.”
Another environmentally friendly transportation option that came to Camana Bay recently was the electric Bird scooters provided by The Scooter Guys. Similarly to how Cycle Cayman rents its bicycles, Bird scooter users need only download an app, set up an account and off they go.
Planning a sustainable future
In 2018, Dart developed Camana Bikes, a pilot bike-share programme that served as a test for eco-friendly transportation alternatives.
"It provided useful data around the future of sustainable travel in Cayman,” Henry says, adding that the Camana Bikes research resulted in valuable insight that is being used to inform Dart's future development plans, including improved road infrastructure.
Dart President Real Estate Asset Management Justin Howe believes that a car-dependent lifestyle may have negative health implications and that walkability should be an essential part of any real estate development.
“We are all very proud to work for a company that is dedicated to building sustainable, environmentally friendly communities,” says Howe. “Dart is devoted to responsible real estate development and an excellent example is our approach to landscaping. We’ve been planting trees since the mid-90s, nearly a decade before construction began at Camana Bay.”
Those trees, many of which are indigenous to the Cayman Islands and the surrounding Caribbean region, provide much-needed shade throughout all of Dart’s properties, making walking and cycling a more enjoyable mode of travel.
“Shade under a tree canopy is actually cooler than the shade a building provides,” says Howe.
Camana Bay’s future expansion, which includes Health City’s 70,000-square-foot medical campus, will allow for alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian connectivity and bike lanes, as well as thoughtful landscape design and a continuation of the New Urbanist principles upon which the town was built.
Fans of Earth Day should take note.
About the author
Andrea Lumsden has worked with Dart since 2013 and has been writing professionally since 2003. Graduating from university with a BA in Communication, Andrea has worked with clients across a range of industries, including financial services, hospitality and real estate. Raised in the Cayman Islands, she’s a bookworm at heart who enjoys cooking and travelling with her husband and three children. Find her in Camana Bay reading a good book and savouring the ocean breeze.