Accidents will happen

Accidents will happen

To the Editor:

This is a copy of a letter written to Mary-Joe Perry, highway director, at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Highway Division, District 5.

This letter is a plea for help and cooperation from the state of Massachusetts concerning a serious and potentially fatal situation we have here on Martha’s Vineyard regarding our sidewalks and bicycles.

In 2011, we had a horrible accidental death of a cyclist on this part of the sidewalk and State Road in Vineyard Haven. Part of the problem is the size of the road, the size of the vehicles on the road, the extremely small distance between the road and sidewalk all creating a situation with nary an inch margin of error. You fall off your bike; you’re in the road, period.

Since that tragic accident, a beautiful new sidewalk was installed last May of 2012. Thank you very much, but it has caused an even more dangerous situation. Now people on bicycles find it fun and amusing to fly down the hill on the sidewalk, going the wrong way. Massachusetts laws states all bikes ride with the traffic. There are three blind driveways in a row and other semi-blind driveways up and down this street. This is not a potential problem — not an if problem — this is a when problem. It is only a matter of time, because it is going to happen. A car pulling out of one of these driveways at the same time a bike is speeding illegally down the sidewalk is a deadly combination.

We desperately need signs next to the sidewalk alerting the cyclists of the biking laws and the blind driveways, and then at least we have warned them. We residents living on these two blocks of State Road made our own signs within days after the 2011 fatality, that said “Dangerous Road: Walk Your Bikes.” Many cyclists followed our advice, many did not. We have no control over people’s good sense or not, but we as concerned neighbors at least felt we had tried to make our little neck of the woods a smidgen safer. Is making our own signs what we have to do again? I hope not.

Please help us and please help us quickly, for the summer season is about to descend upon us. At the moment, I see well over a dozen of these cyclists a day flying down the sidewalk, without even a thought of the danger, so can you imagine in a few weeks’ time. Dear God.

Lorraine Parish

Vineyards Haven