New rules for drivers, walkers and bicyclists on the Vineyard:
After another summer of road rage, sidewalk rage and too-many-people-per-square-foot rage, here is a brand-new manifesto for the bipedal, meaning pedestrians and bicyclists (this also applies to anyone who leaves the keys to his or her auto on the hook beside the kitchen door, and proceeds to a destination without the benefit of any device operated by internal combustion):
Our hour is at hand. We will no longer accept second-class citizenship.
For nearly a hundred years, American status has been defined by car ownership. The more expensive the car, the better the person. In recent times, status — and therefore worthiness — has been bolstered by the millions of dollars over a measley $1 million that a person can set as the price of his or her house, and the thousands of square feet above the 4,000 square feet of this same house.
My friends, those days are over. No more bragging about your carbon-reeking mansions and fancy wheels. You’ve been pretending all along that each sport utility vehicle and each jumbo house doesn’t represent an oil derrick dipping robotically over a scenic coastline, a 20-ton ice cube melting at the top of the planet, or another foreign war unleashed because a fuel-mad citizenry at a distance of 10,000 miles is feeling a bit control-freakish about petroleum supplies.
Walkers of the world, unite! For years we’ve been paying lip sevice to the fact that we are the solution, everyone else the problem.
But do we believe it? Do we hold our heads high as we step into the crosswalk? Be honest, now!
If a driver stops for us, we wave, smile, pick up our gait, and do this little bunny hop across the street. (Well, during the summer in a resort spot like ours, there are, admittedly, a lot of folks loafing their way as if in some extraterrestrial control tower the technicians have set those people on extra slow motion. But for those of us with a conscience molded in modern times with the emphasis on speed, mobility and vroom-vroom motors, we tend to feel absurdly grateful to any driver who, out of a sense of noblesse oblige, puts on the brake for us.
We can also sense, if we’re on foot and lugging home two heavy bags of groceries and our unruly dog is tugging the leash to propel us to a certain death in traffic that, while the driver waits, he begins to gnash his teeth, his fingers are drumming the wheel, and he’s speed-dialing his cell phone in order to rage about us to someone who cares for him (God knows why.)
I’m telling you, this enraged driver should be grateful to us for offsetting the harm done by spewing carbon dioxide everytime his car is in motion. He should be reverential any time he sees The Solution on the march. He ought to be calling out his window, “Thank you for walking (or bicycling).” He should be asking if we’d care for a freshly made lobster roll — he’s got some on ice as he mashes his way on four-wheel drive over the sands of Chappy.
And could we use a bottle of Moet & Chandon? “Don’t walk under the influence, heh heh,” he might chuckle in deference to a person who’s actually spending a little time in the out of doors, leaving no footprint other than his or her sneaker’s size in the dust along the road.
Sure there are laws about cars stopping for walkers. That’s because no one really wants to deal with manslaughtered bodies in the public thoroughfare, with all the cleanup, paperwork and, worst of all, the blockage of traffic. But does the law say walkers and bicyclists come first? That car drivers, i.e. The Problem, if they’re going to be stupid enough and insensitive enough to put pedal to metal even if it’s a perfectly temperatured day, and their destination is only a mile away, need to recognize that they need to make their way with extreme caution and courtesy, deferring to every non-car person on the road (except for moped riders: we all hate them), and at every intersection hop out of the car and salute, genuflect or bow deeply to any bipedalist on the move?
Forewarned is forearmed: We’re pulling up our socks, and crossing the street whenever and wherever we feel like it. We’re getting on our bicycles and taking to the highways. If no bike paths are available, we might even hog the roads, and drivers can just kiss our helmets.
Whew. On to more pressing matters: Bob Glover, president of the Oak Bluffs Association, wants us to know about the general membership meeting coming up on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Wesley Hotel. In Bob’s words: “It’s the end of the season. It’s time to look back on the season. Bring your rants and raves . . . I mean your raves and rants.” Items on the agenda will include the Big Dig on Circuit avenue, parking and traffic, special events including Tivoli Day, Summer Solstice and the Harvest Festival. Also, how do we grow the Oak Bluffs share of Martha’s Vineyard? Do we have the right mix of events? To add a hot idea to the agenda, call Bob at 508-693-2892 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wine and snacks will be served.
At the Oak Bluffs library on Friday, Sept. 28 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., story time will take place for those six to 10 years old. Robin Tuck will read a story and teach how to make shadow puppets inspired by characters in the story. In further library news, Family Nights will switch in October to Thursdays at 6 p.m.