As the President and his family settle into their August vacation, I wanted to share my observations about the President’s visit to South Road last year.
My family and I were inside the security cordon, which meant that we had our car searched every time we had to go back through the security barriers and return to our house. The people who manned these barricades were friendly but determined, and we were only inconvenienced by the extra 10 minutes of security sweep.
One of the consequences of the secret service presence was the complete elimination of traffic on South Road. Even for Chilmark, the quiet that erupted around us was surprising. The lack of traffic meant that I could venture onto South Road with my family and walk and bike on the road. To be clear, this is not an advisable act with kids at any other time.
The sense of discovery that we felt on the road as we ventured to Beetlebung Corner, Lucy Vincent Beach and Alley’s, while dropping in on neighbors and friends along the way, was thrilling.
Like the eye of a hurricane, the calm and sense of peace left with the President’s motorcade.
But I hope that the rest of Chilmark, and even the whole Vineyard, could re-examine our Island with the same sense of peace and wonder that my family enjoyed last summer.
I’d like to propose that Chilmark plan to close segments of South Road, Middle Road and North Road, separately and over a series of summer weekends to extend the feeling of community and wonder that results when neighbors venture beyond our driveways to walk, bike, talk, kibbitz, ride horses, smell the wisteria and whatever comes to mind when not behind the wheel of our automobiles.
It will change the way we think about getting around this Island. I suspect that we use our cars on the Vineyard, because we can’t imagine any other way to get from home to our appointments. I can attest that solutions become apparent if one feels safe enough on our roads without being buckled into a motor vehicle.
Give it a chance, Columbus did.