Some simple ways to make cycling safer
To the Editor:
The August 5 edition of The Times featured both an article and an editorial describing the desperate need and formidable challenges of providing safe and functional bicycling routes on the Island. I've used my bike quite a bit this summer to commute from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven to work and to run errands in the down-Island towns, and I agree that cycling on the Vineyard can be a scary adventure. Inattentive pedestrians, inexperienced fellow cyclists, and aggressive drivers pose hazards to cyclists.
The long-term goal of a network of safe, clearly marked bicycle routes is a laudable one, but there are a few quick, cheap fixes that might be put in place immediately.
First and foremost, remove the drifts of sand on the shoulders of our roads and existing bike paths that force bikes into the flow of traffic. Beach Road from Five Corners to the Shipyard, then from the bridge to the hospital, is inches deep in places.
Secondly, detailed and accurate maps of the Island with suggested bike and walking routes should be available on the ferries and distributed at bike rental shops instead of those ridiculous placemats that leave packs of tourists puzzling at intersections.
Who hasn't watched them head into Oak Bluffs from the "four way" down narrow Barnes Road instead of using the County Road bike path?
Some useful information about locking bikes at racks off of downtown streets and warnings of known hazards and dangers could also help avoid accidents.
Finally, erect simple signs reminding drivers to stop for pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks.
These simple things would go a long way toward improving my own commute as well as the experience of visitors enjoying the Vineyard on two wheels instead of four.