If ever there was an issue crying out for a plebiscite, the proposed third bridge is it. The decision on this dubious improvement is crucial to the quality of life of everyone living on Cape Cod now and into the future. The people who will be most affected by it, for better or worse, should have a chance to vote it up or down.

In any case, before we go to the trouble, expense, and massive inconvenience of greasing the skids for tourists to get to us, we might want to consult Martha’s Vineyard on the virtues of bottleneck living.

The Island seems in fact committed, both residents and visitors, to living with much more difficult access than that of the Cape, with not only the canal to get over but five miles of Vineyard Sound before you’re home free. The Vineyard is just as popular, if not more so, than the Cape, but apparently have no thought of making it easier to get there.

Yes, a bridge to the Vineyard would be a bit more of a project than one over the canal, but there’s something else operating besides resignation to insularity: a whole different mindset. (From what I have picked up from a fair amount of time spent there visiting relatives over decades, the idea of a bridge has always been raised only as a joke.)

I don’t know how daily commuters to mainland jobs feel about it, but most Islanders seem actually to appreciate the bottleneck, realizing that relative inaccessibility is key to quality of life for residents and tourists alike. Inconvenience seems built into the treasured ruralness and remoteness. On Cape or Islands, you can’t have it both ways.

I suppose you can’t compare inching along in gridlocked summer traffic with a picturesque ferry ride. Maybe the key is to shift Cape visitors to another sort of antiquated transportation. The Cape’s version of the Vineyard ferry could be to require all summer visitors to board a picturesque train when they hit the canal.

Or, maybe somebody could come up with a smart phone app to help visitors stuck in summer traffic get in touch with their inner ferry.

This piece was first published in the Cape Cod Times on Oct. 20. It appears here with permission.