Bicycle Safety on Martha’s Vineyard

Bicycle by pacomexico-resized-600Recently, there was an article on this Blog, posted by CJ, concerning safety while traveling on Martha’s Vineyard. I am prompted to expand upon this theme by last month’s tragic bicycle accident in Vineyard Haven; and I speak with the perspective of having been a Military Police officer once upon a time. My purpose now is not to discuss the accident, but simply to share some of my observations with you in the hopes that they will help you and your family stay safe, while having fun on your Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

The Island is truly a magical place to visit, but this is NOT the Land of Oz with the perfectly maintained Yellow Brick Road leading wherever you could hope to visit. Similar to other places, the Island’s roads and sidewalks are susceptible to deterioration. Harsh weather and heavy usage takes its toll here as well as in your hometown, so caution is advised.  Martha’s Vineyard has many lovely and well maintained bike paths, which cyclists should utilize whenever possible.

Two days after the Vineyard Haven accident, the Park and Ride bus left my daughter and I behind at the State Road lot. Having some experience with the ebb and flow of bus, boat and traffic in getting home to Falmouth, I judged that it would not return in time to pick us up for the boat. With Kate strapped into her stroller, piggy-doll strapped in as well, we set out to walk down the hill to the boat. She soon fell asleep and I am glad she did.

We had to travel down the sidewalk where the accident had transpired. The farther I went, the harder it became to push the stroller through the inches of sand and cracked pavement that line the length of State Road. The sidewalks are in rough shape in places along this stretch and it terrified me when the stroller wheels would get into a rut in the sand and pull toward the street. It was a grim walk for me…full of sad thoughts, especially when I passed the accident site.

As a Military Police Officer on a small, family-oriented post in South Carolina, I assisted in many community seminars – some of which included bicycle safety. I can recite the rules of the road here and caution everyone to obey them, but safety starts before you take the bike out onto the road. The seminar that stuck out in my mind was the one concerning bicycle sizing.

I have seen so many cyclists riding on bicycles that I feel are too big for them. (On Thursday morning on my drive into Edgartown, a girl wobbled on her bike and fell… onto the sidewalk rather than in front of my car, but it was a close thing.) This quick and easy website helps with the steps in sizing a bike for safe usage. Scroll through the pictures and read the short descriptions. Learn the steps and know what to look for regarding your family’s safe bicycle sizing.

The bicycle rental companies on the island move hundreds (possibly thousands) of bicycles between them each day. They can find a bicycle for you that may be close to the right size, and can spend some time adjusting it to your specific body type.  But please remember…they have dozens of other customers waiting for their help, maybe not so patiently!

The final say is yours when it comes to bicycle safety. If they cannot find a size right for you, try again later on that day, or come earlier the next to spend some extra time. The Island will still be here to explore!

Image courtesy of pacomexico

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