Keep bike path open

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To the Editor:

I am concerned that the bike path that runs along Veterans Park is closed for 14 days during the three-day Beach Road Music Festival every summer. My children, their friends, myself, my neighbors and their children, and all the other people who constantly use this bike path to safely get in and out of town are rerouted into harm’s way for two weeks. The alternatives are State Road or Skiff Avenue, which are both very dangerous. Each of those routes has seen a fatal bicycle accident. Why does this bike path need to be closed for so long, and why can’t a compromise be reached with Mr. Epstein? I even met with Mr. Epstein, and he would not give me a logical reason for fencing in the bike path. The contract between the town and Mr. Epstein does not mention the bike path at all, yet Mr. Epstein fences it in and shuts it down for 14 days. Does he have the authority to do this, and if so, who gave it to him?

I contacted Peter Sutton of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Board of MassDOT, and he also questions Mr. Epstein’s need to block this public throughway for so long. Town voters at the 2009 Tisbury annual town meeting voted and allotted funding for the construction of this bike path to ensure public safety. Mr. Epstein’s extended, 14-day closure of the path during the height of the summer does just the opposite, and sends bicycling families up dangerous roads.

The avoidable tragedy of a child, bicyclist, or pedestrian being seriously injured or killed because of this closed bike path would be heartbreaking to the families and the town. Hopefully, the select board will take action on this issue in time for next year’s concert. What is the logical reason why Mr. Epstein cannot place his fences on the inside of the bike path? If Mr. Epstein’s priority is truly public safety, as he claims, then keeping the bike path along Veterans Park open should be a no-brainer.

Dr. Silvia Vogt
Vineyard Haven