Wheelchair navigation requires clean walkways


To the Editor:

I have been an Island resident for the better part of the past 30 years, and have largely enjoyed my time here. One of the pleasures that I often partook of was riding my bicycle all over the Island throughout the full range of seasons. However, having suffered a severely disabling injury and illness six years ago, I’ve now been reduced to getting around the Island on the same roadways and walkways that I used to travel by bicycle in a six-wheeled motorized chariot, i.e., a wheelchair.

I’ve adapted and adjusted to this mode of transportation fairly well, and can negotiate and navigate most areas of the three down-Island towns, which have paved roads and walkways. However, given that far too many of these town’s municipal walkways and bike paths are terribly cracked and pitted, I’m often forced to travel along the shoulders of these paved roads and streets, many of which are covered in inches of sand.

I implore the selectmen in these three down-Island towns, and especially Vineyard Haven where I live, to get their road sweepers out to clean up the roads and byways to reduce the risk of serious injuries to people like myself who travel in wheelchairs, not to mention the hundreds of cyclists who will be traveling on the Island in the not-too-distant future.

I was reminded of the perils that people like myself face on a daily basis when I recently encountered a member of the Tisbury board of selectmen out for a walk on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. This concerned and well-meaning gentleman stopped and engaged me in conversation about the dangers he witnessed me encountering as I negotiated the sand-covered stretch of roadway at the bend in the road where lies Net Result. I left, thanking him for his concern, and thinking to myself how badly I didn’t want an accident on one of these sand-covered paths to send me once again to the emergency room. Please, clean up these hazards.

Maurice Young
Vineyard Haven