Town Column : Aquinnah
Yes, it's August, and yes, the traffic is heavy and frustrating. I thought it might be helpful for us to go over the proper road etiquette before things get really out of hand. Some of them may seem obvious, but I drive a lot and trust me, they're not. For those of us who live here it's important to remember that there are lots of people who are visiting the Island who are not familiar with the roads, and we might benefit by showing a little patience. For visitors, you might want to keep in mind that even though you are on vacation, bad things can happen and you need to pay attention at all times. Our roads are narrow, which makes very little room for error. Thank you to everyone who sent in their suggestions and if I have missed anything send it in and I'll put it in next week's column.
Suggestions for up-Island driving
Share. It would be really great if we had a bike path up-Island, but we don't, so everyone must share the road. All other rules flow from this one.
Even if you can get cell service in Aquinnah and Chilmark, pull over at the overlook or some other safe place, and make your calls there, not while you are driving.
Pick up hitchhikers. The Island is one of the last safe bastions of hitchhiking. It's a great old Island tradition, like being naked on the beach. Let's keep the dream alive, folks, and besides our cars are so huge now there is always room for one more.
The oncoming lane is not your dance space. If you would like to pass the biker, jogger, or cluster of mopeds, wait until it is clear for you to do so. Don't barge into the oncoming lane and expect a driver there to move over for you. That is their dance space.
Do not pass on blind turns, ever.
Mopeds up-Island are not a good idea. They're just not.
If you pull over or park on the side of the road, pull entirely off the road, on the other side of the white line.
If you are biking or jogging and need to pull over, please do so where you can be seen by oncoming traffic, and again pull all the way off the road.
Do not pass on that section of State Road headed down-Island, right before Chilmark Chocolates. The speed limit there is actually 25 miles per hour and there is a giant sign that says "Do Not Pass."The speed limit up Island never goes above 35 miles per hour. While most people allow for another five miles or so above that limit, it's unsafe to go much faster given the amount of human, car, and deer traffic. If you need to go slower because you're not sure what road you need to turn down or you want to enjoy the scenery, please pull over so people can pass you.
Don't drink and drive. Aside from the fact that you could kill or hurt someone, if you get caught, you will be arrested and your name will appear in the section of the paper that lists people who have been arrested and what they did, and everyone reads that section of the paper. Everyone.
And lastly, relax. If people deviate from the above rules, which they will, don't scream and make obscene gestures. You're just going to bump into them later in Cronig's or at a restaurant. Just take a deep breath and say, "It's just for the summer, it's just for the summer". It's only traffic and it will pass.