Share the Road, Save the Planet

Share the Road, Save the Planet

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 22:21

Above all else, the East End grumbles about traffic on Memorial Day weekend. Routine errands are run in haste during the previous workweek or put off until Tuesday. If one does venture out, it’s as if on a polar expedition, with circling to find a spot like parking-lot polka. The traffic control officers do their best to keep things moving. Fender-benders abound. Tempers rise. “Who are these people?” we ask. “Where can they be going?” These questions may never be answered.

More seriously, motor vehicles remain one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases. Soil and water along roads and around parking lots are defiled by oil, heavy metals, salt, and degraded plastics from vehicle wiring, litter, and even traffic barriers and paints — all of which can be dispersed by spray, surface water flow, and the wind within as much if not more than 300 feet on either side. Much of this flows directly into ponds, streams, and estuaries. In addition to greater runoff control, the real solution is fewer cars. 

Transportation thinkers have long understood bicycles as one answer, but much of the East End is hardly bicycle-friendly. Fixing this will not be simple, but it is both possible and worth the effort. Our town and village master plans already include suggestions for bike paths, though in the past some residents along proposed routes have objected.

East Hampton Village is gearing up for a new vision document, which could feature more bicycle paths. East Hampton Town’s multiple hamlet studies now nearing finalization describe bike paths linking the population centers, parks, and shopping. Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc listed a safe hamlet-to-hamlet connector as among his 2019 goals to begin work on. 

Sadly, many people who would love to use a bicycle to get around do not for fear of injury or worse. One recent letter writer to The Star who spoke for many observed, “I have had to put my bicycles in the shed, because it is too dangerous to ride them on our streets.” Among the problems are narrow back roads without shoulders, and where there are shoulders they often are not suitable for two-wheeled traffic.

For environmental reasons as well as to tame the chaos on East End roads, officials need to make encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto bicycles a top priority.

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May 31, 2019 - 22:13
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