To the Editor:
I was pleased to learn, in your August 30 issue [More cyclists spinning their wheels safely on the Vineyard] that there were fewer bicycle injuries this summer. But I wish your article had better addressed the question: why were there fewer injuries? Was it because we improved the Island's bicycling facilities? Had we constructed new bike lanes, new paths, and installed better "share the road" signs? Was sand swept off roads more diligently? Were bike rental agencies giving better safety training to their customers? Were motorists given better training, notifying them that bicycles have the same road rights as cars?
No, I don't believe that such improvements were made. I suggest that the injury reduction was primarily due to two factors: (1) the police departments created additional crosswalks. Crosswalks catch attention, slow motorists down and give everyone more time to behave more safely. And (2) we were lucky. Next summer we'll probably see a rise in injuries, and a fatality or two.
One more comment. Bicycles are legally permitted to ride on residential sidewalks, but aren't allowed on sidewalks in the heart of town.
I find that sidewalks often offer greater safety than roadways and shoulders, especially for bicyclists who are inexperienced and moving slowly. And because most of our residential sidewalks are lightly used by pedestrians, bicyclists can easily give them their legal right of way.