The chiefs of police of all six Martha’s Vineyard towns recently issued a public announcement, notifying vacationers of some necessary Island bylaws and safety precautions as summer moves forward in full swing.
The announcements will be displayed on Steamship Authority ferries and at terminals, after a request was made on behalf of the chiefs by Edgartown Chief Bruce McNamee and approved by the SSA board.
“We’re trying to make sure that people coming to the Vineyard realize they’re not driving on the streets of Manhattan or Westchester or D.C., or wherever they’re coming from,” Martha’s Vineyard representative to the Steamship Authority Jim Malkin said during that board meeting. “The roads are narrower, the traffic is slower, there’s sand on the sides of the roads, and all the things we on the Island deal with, Cape communities deal with as well [in efforts] to make it safer as people face the summer congestion.”
With an Islandwide staffing shortage that has seeped into the towns’ emergency response departments, McNamee is hopeful that appealing to visitors directly will help in raising overall safety awareness, and in turn, may have the ability to prevent serious issues or emergencies.
McNamee said the information will be available on ferries and at terminals, and plans are in the works to get notices on the VTA buses and into Chamber of Commerce informational packets.
On how to inform the public on some of the — perhaps lesser known — rules of the Island, all six chiefs have been working together to determine the best course of action. Geared toward first-time visitors and repeat guests, the informational notifications will provide an outline of the do’s and don’ts of the Island, with the aim that fewer vacationers may require emergency services.
The towns also encourage visitors to consider public transportation, as traffic congestion hits its peak in the next few months. McNamee expects parking to be more of a challenge than usual.
“Fewer cars, fewer car accidents,” McNamee said.
The town police chiefs ask that visitors respect the parks, beachfronts, streets, roadways, and pristine habitats by not littering, and adhering to the traditional Island policy, “Carry In, Carry Out.”
Unlike most of Massachusetts, the average speed limit on Martha’s Vineyard is 25 to 30 mph; no road exceeds 45 mph. Many roads are winding and/or narrow, and are shared with bicyclists, prompting recommendations from the towns that all bike riders exercise caution and wear a helmet, and follow the flow of traffic. When possible, cyclists are encouraged to use the designed bike paths, due to summer increases in bicycle accidents, which the Island is trying to reduce.
Similarly, the Island’s police chiefs emphasize that visitors on rented mopeds must “complete all required training and adhere to the provided safety instructions, as we have had a number of very serious moped accidents over the years.”
Additionally, the towns are encouraging visitors to be mindful of their temporary neighbors, as on the Vineyard, noise ordinances are strictly enforced.
Although dining establishments differ throughout the Island, no Vineyard restaurant or bar remains open past 1 am, and drinking alcohol in public is illegal in most towns.