Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

As the Island continues to welcome its visitors this season, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is reminding everyone of some safety practices recommended for navigating our narrow and often curvy, sandy and congested roads and share use paths, as well as the laws that have been put in place to help assure safety.

Our bike paths are shared-use paths (SUPs) and are for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians. The SUPs do not have a speed limit, but all SUP users are expected to operate at slower speeds, especially in congested areas, such as town centers or shopping areas. All users must keep to the right to let faster users pass on the left after giving loud audible warnings. Bells are highly encouraged especially when passing young children.

Motorists must always yield to pedestrians and cyclists when crossing the SUPs.

We recommend that all riders wear helmets, but children under 16 are required by Massachusetts law to wear them at all times.

Just as for motorists, the use of any handheld electronic devices such as a phone or camera is illegal while riding a bicycle. If using the phone for GPS, the device should be mounted on the handlebar or the user must stop riding while checking the device.

If riders must stop on the SUP, they should always move off to the side to allow other users to pass safely.

Bicycles must be equipped with front and rear lights when riding at night.

Pedestrians should use the available crosswalks to cross a street and look both ways for traffic. When walking in the road, they should walk against traffic to be aware of oncoming vehicles and move aside if necessary.

Please use a flashlight to increase visibility at night.

Bicycles are legally considered vehicles and are permitted to ride on our roads even if there is a SUP beside the road. Massachusetts recently passed a law requiring motorists to give cyclists a four-foot clearance when passing them, even if the motorist must cross a double line into another lane of traffic.

When on the road, the cyclist must follow the same traffic laws as vehicles — including one-way streets and stop signs — and ride on the right-hand side of the road, but not over the line at the right-hand edge of the road, thus avoiding potential hazards such as narrow pavement, grates or debris on the road edge.

Cyclists may ride two abreast and take up an entire lane, but if a group is holding up traffic they should go single file to help other vehicles pass safely when the road allows.

Remember, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is not permitted. If you are uncomfortable on a certain street or accidentally go down a one-way, dismount your bicycle and walk on the sidewalk.

We encourage you to safely enjoy your time on Martha’s Vineyard whether you are riding, walking or driving.

Greg Politz

Vineyard Haven

The writer is chair of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.