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Vacation Safety

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

Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots

Edgartown Memorial Day 022-1

The new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital opened last month, with the space to double it’s capacity.  Some people speculate that this was necessary purely due to the transportation related accidents that grace the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s emergency room every season…  please don’t be one of the statistics!  Read on to be aware and safe, and if you missed our prior article on general vacation safety, please check it out.

Pedestrian Safety – Do you remember being taught to look both ways before crossing the street?  I am fairly certain that it is a safety concept still being taught today, but it is not regularly practiced in the downtown areas of Martha’s Vineyard.  I mention this not to embarrass anyone, because we can all be distracted…  did you just hear that horn beep?  WHAT is that man wearing?!…   Oh, sorry, where was I?  Oh yes, I was mentioning this so that if you happen to be driving on Martha’s Vineyard, you won’t ASSUME that the basic safety rules are being followed by the pedestrians.  Please go extra slowly when driving through our towns, and don’t assume that everyone will wait for a crosswalk before walking in front of your car…

If you are a pedestrian, please follow these simple but important guidelines:

  • Look both ways before crossing the streets and use cross walks whenever possible.
  • Be aware of cars in downtown areas.  Even though everyone else is walking down the middle of the street, it is probably not closed to traffic.
  • Stay to the right on bicycle paths.
  • Do not come from behind a car, and cross in front of it unless you know that the driver has seen you.

Bicycle Safety – Martha’s Vineyard has miles of lovely bike paths to explore, all over the island; but the roads are narrow, with sandy and narrow shoulders… and similar to elsewhere, many of the drivers are extremely impatient in the summer.  Be careful!  Remember these basic safety rules to ensure that your visit is accident free.

  • Always use a bike path when one is available.
  • When biking on the road, always ride with traffic.
  • On the multi-use paths, stay to the right and announce yourself when passing on the left.
  • Use caution when crossing in front of driveways or across roads – don’t assume that drivers see you, even if you have the right of way.
  • Don’t forget to wear a helmet!

Mopeds – Every year there are several serious moped accidents on Martha’s Vineyard.  Regardless of the moped driver’s skill level, there are many impatient “city drivers” on our roads in the summer.  This doesn’t bode well for a slow moped on a 2 lane road, with a sandy and narrow shoulder.  If you need a way to see the entire island, consider taking an island tour.  It has the added benefit of a historical narrative being included, along with being able to see most of the island (minus the tour of the new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital accident room).  We also have an excellent public transportation system if you would like to explore the island independently.

What’s your favorite mode of transportation when exploring the area?  Do you have any examples of distracted visitors to share for our general safety awareness?

 

Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots

Sunscreen by Scott Donovan

Over the past 17 years that I have been on the Vineyard, I have repeatedly been astounded at least once or twice every season by the carelessness of a visitor.  I don’t think that this is a unique phenomenon to Martha’s Vineyard, but is common in vacation destinations around the world.  I used to work with a Director of Security who gave a unique introduction of the island to our new hires each year:  “This is not Fantasy Island” he would warn (remember that show?!), and he had a point.  Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful and relatively safe, relaxed community; but it is not advisable (anywhere!) to completely let your guard down and assume that anything goes because you are on vacation.  For example, it is not a good idea to allow your six year old to wander down the street (or into it), without you while you window shop.  OK, I know that’s an extreme example, but I’ve seen it happen…

Safety and security are awkward topics for me as a hotelier to address, because someone might wrongly extrapolate from this that Martha’s Vineyard is not a safe place to visit.  I care about the experience that all of our guests have, however, and want everyone’s memories of Martha’s Vineyard to be positive.  If a few safety reminders can ensure that your vacation is safe and accident free, I will take my chances here.  Of course, if you are reading this, you are probably not one of those “careless visitors”; but please read on so that “the carless ones” do not take you unaware.

General security – Although the island is relatively safe, remember that ANYONE can come across on the boat.  We don’t screen out the ones with criminal records…  Similar to any vacation destination, you should remember to:

  • Shut your room door all the way, and bolt it at night
  • Do not give your room number out to strangers (or friends in front of strangers)
  • Lock cars and bicycles when not in use
  • Do not leave valuables in your car, or your room
  • Use a safe deposit box to store valuables
  • Don’t leave valuables on your beach blanket when you go for a walk or swim
  • Don’t allow young children to wander off because it’s a safe place (they can still step in front of a car with a distracted driver).

General safety – During the summer the two most common obstacles to our summer fun are the sun (we love to see it, but getting too much is never a good time!) and ticks.  Similar to the rest of the northeastern seaboard, Martha’s Vineyard has a healthy three season tick population of which everyone should be aware.  Please keep the following tips in mind this summer:

  • Wear sunscreen, and reapply regularly
  • Don’t forget hats, long sleeve shirts, etc. to block the sun when you’ve had too much, so you can stay outside.
  • Check for ticks after being out in fields or at the beach
  • If possible when hiking, wear long pants, long sleeves, and tuck pants in socks (a real fashion statement!)
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated

Everyone is familiar with the hazards of over exposure to the sun (so don’t do it – you could miss out on days of your vacation); but for more information on tick bourn disease prevention, you can refer to the Martha’s Vineyard Lyme Disease Association website.

I know that all of this seems like common sense, so thank you for bearing with me.  No one needs to be paranoid about safety in this beautiful island community, but it is advisable to just be aware.  The most alarming lack of safety awareness that I have seen, however, is summarized under the transportation category…   another post in and of itself, so please watch this space.

So what are your safety tips when travelling?  Keep in mind, you can always drink the water here on Martha’s Vineyard!  Although… I don’t really recommend it if you are swimming.  It’s a bit salty!

 

Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots