Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the Gazette story last Friday about bicycle paths.

A couple of clarifications are in order, as some of my quotes were out of context, some were mixed together, and some I never made at all.

In the part of the story where I said: “What we have now aren’t even bike lanes, and they are not suitable to be shared by pedestrians and bikers,” I was talking about the stretch of New York avenue from the drawbridge to the harbor. It was repaved last year by Mass Highway and through the work and persistence of the bike and pedestrian committee we were able to get a consistent width road, narrower travel lanes and wider shoulders on both sides of the road. I told the reporter that even though they were consistently wider than they had been, they are not bike lanes, they are shoulders. I did not say, “and they are not suitable to be shared by pedestrian and bikers.”

I was also quoted as saying: “As it stands now riding on the roadway is safer than riding on the shared use path, it’s not even close.” I never said any of that. What I said was that riding on a two-way path on one side of the road, a cyclist is two and half times more likely to have a crash with a car than riding on the road with traffic. The closer a cyclist behaves like a motorist in the roadway, predictably and consistently, the safer they are.

I hadn’t read the latest draft of the bike path study, but as I told the reporter, I was part of the group that selected the engineering firm that did the study, and along with other members of the bike and pedestrian committee, worked through this plan over many months to get it to where it is now.

Next Tuesday at the commission building we will go over the final draft.

I do ride the existing bike paths just about every day. I never said, “Most serious bikers, including myself, do not like to use bike paths, especially shared paths.” The bike paths are an option that a cyclist may choose to take or not as they wish.

To ride these paths one has to be far more vigilant than when on the road.

If a cyclist can maintain a 20 to 25 mph average on these existing paths, he or she does not belong there. With strollers, roller bladers, cub scout troops on bikes and families with children, it is not a safe place to ride at speed for all concerned. For those reasons faster cyclists prefer the roadways to the pathways.

Yes, more, much more should be done to bring the existing paths up to a reasonable standard of safety. I fear that the towns will give us lip service and we will end up with more of the same old substandard bicycle facilities.

Another concern with these paths is that they were indeed built by motorists with, up until recently, no input from cyclists and it shows in the end result. A two-way path on one side of the road is a dangerous design flaw in itself. Motorists fly in and out of side roads crossing these paths in a hurry without watching for those who may be on the path, pedestrians or cyclists. The Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and the County Road bike paths are not safe designs at all. The most dangerous places for cyclists tend to be intersections. With an excess of 130 curb cuts on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road bike path, that’s 130-plus intersections.

Bikes and pedestrians have the right of way on these paths. It is the motor vehicles crossing these paths that are required by law to stop and yield to the various path users.

I have been demanding for decades that we have physical barriers between the roadway and the paths to keep motor vehicles off the path. Every curb cut needs to be redesigned as a traffic calming intersection to control the speed of motor vehicles that cross the pathways.

We do have some great paths that with a little work could be a lot safer, but we also have some that are a disaster waiting to happen that need a great deal of work.

Mark London is quoted as saying “37 miles of bike paths right now are generally good.” I question how he came to this conclusion. I have offered, or should I say challenged, the members of the Joint Transportation Committee to come ride these paths with me during the peak of summer season with bicycle and vehicular traffic at its height — but received no takers.

Maybe we should make it mandatory for those motorists who have foisted these paths on us in the past to actually ride them at peak times. Scare the hell out of them with a lumber or garbage truck drifting onto the path at speed and perhaps we will get those much-needed improvements a whole lot sooner.

David J. Whitmon

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

How about the grief counselors meeting with upset students in the wake of the recent death mention that the use of the term accident to describe any road injury which involves alcohol, speeding or lack of seat belts is just a euphemism. It is not an accident. It is predictable.

Christopher Gray

New York city

and Chappaquonsett


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Several weeks ago, I participated in a Webinar by the American Council on Renewable Energy, during which wind financiers and lawyers discussed federal programs and opportunities afforded by recent legislation. One speaker discussed a federal research funding program aimed at developing improved materials for offshore wind projects. The reason for this program is that the U.S. Department of Energy is concerned that currently available technology is not sufficiently reliable to assure appropriate funding for long term offshore wind generation.

Unless this is just another earmark, isn’t there a message here? And isn’t there a reason why over 95 per cent of all wind power is onshore. Economics!

Robert Goodof



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Geraldine Brooks seems to not only take it on herself to save a building on someone else’s property, but also has decided that the owners can afford to renovate the house, whether they want to or not. She does this based on the owners’ previous philanthropy and professional position.

If this issue is so important to Ms. Brooks, why doesn’t she buy, move and renovate the house herself? I am not aware of her previous philanthropy, but she has had two or three best-selling novels, so I assume that she too can afford to save this old house.

Carole Cohen



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In the Friday, June 5 edition of the Vineyard Gazette, which arrived in today’s mail, I read of the retirement, already reported in the Bergen Record, of John Ferguson as chief executive officer of Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J., I find this to be a very sad event because Mr. Ferguson has given so much of his time and talent to bring this one-time average community hospital up to the status of a world-class institution.

My husband, Gerard F. Hansen M.D., has been a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist at Hackensack since January 1967 and has worked under three different CEOs. John Ferguson is in a class by himself, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is indeed fortunate to have him involved in the building of their new facility. It would be a tremendous loss to all Vineyarders, both full-time residents and visitors, if Mr. Ferguson decides to step down from his involvement with the Vineyard hospital.

As a homeowner and part-time resident, I need someone of John Ferguson’s intelligence, knowledge, skill and determination to make Martha’s Vineyard and its hospital an ever better and safer place.

Peggy Hansen

Hillsdale, N.J.

and Edgartown


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Each month, volunteer pilots from Angel Flight Northeast fly patients needing specialized medical care, including chemotherapy and dialysis, to hospitals throughout Massachusetts. Many of these patients are from rural areas and would otherwise be hard-pressed to receive the care they need.

These flights are part of General Aviation (GA), which includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Right now GA is being imperiled by misguided plans in Washington, D.C. If these proposals are enacted, the outlook could be grim for patients who use Angel Flight Northeast, as well as for millions of other people throughout the country who depend on General Aviation for services and jobs.

Among the proposals are new costs and regulations. Since Angel Flight Northeast pilots already donate their time and planes and pay for their own fuel, these increased costs could ground them. The impact on patients who live in rural Massachusetts could be devastating, because they would have to drive long distances to receive care.

The new charges and regulations would involve not only medical volunteer organizations. With an estimated 65 per cent of General Aviation flights conducted for public service and business, many industries and services would be affected, including agriculture, emergency medical evacuation, law enforcement, aerial fire fighting, package delivery and the Civil Air Patrol.

Recently, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the world’s largest pilot organization with more than 415,000 members, launched General Aviation Serves America. The goal of this national grassroots campaign is to educate policymakers, opinion leaders and the public about the vital role GA plays in our local communities and the nation’s economy.

The importance of GA and its impact on the citizens of Massachusetts cannot be overstated. I hope you will join me in our efforts to ensure that it’s around for another 80 years, and well beyond.

Craig Fuller

Frederick, Md.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Reading the edition of June 2, Page Five, caption under photo: “Who you gonna call?” The transitive verb “call” takes the objective pronoun “whom.” Volvo slogan of 2007: “Who would you give your Volvo to?”

No wonder our children have trouble passing the English MCAS tests.

Joe Vera

Oak Bluffs