Martha's Vineyard, Vineyard Haven, MA

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Bicycling on Martha’s Vineyard

Many people are surprised when they discover Martha's Vineyard covers about 100 square miles. Biking the entire Island can be quite a challenge.

People who are occasional bikers will find plenty of exercise and wonderful sights by taking in bits of the "down-Island" route—Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and back (roughly 25 miles round trip). This route is mostly flat and easier for children, as well as adults. More experienced riders can make the entire route or bike "up-Island" to Chilmark and Aquinnah. However, depending on the route, you can cover more than 20 miles—each way! Additionally the terrain can be hilly and the roadway curvy.

There are no bike paths or streetlights for the major part of the "up-Island" route. Some easier options are to bus up and bike back or to use West Tisbury as your starting point.

Choosing to see the Island by bicycle is a great way to soak up the Vineyard’s character. Cycling also helps reduce auto traffic, preserves the environment, promotes fitness, and - best of all - is a lot of fun! More than 44 miles of bike trails and miles of roadways are available for cyclists to enjoy. While cycling is a great way to get around the Vineyard, there are certain things to be aware of, even if you are an experienced rider:

Hit the Road

Martha’s Vineyard has everything you’ll need to hit the road and explore the island via bicycle. Bicycle dealers and repair shops are prepared to meet any need - whether you’re a first time rider, or professional cyclist. If you don’t own a bicycle, but still want to experience Martha’s Vineyard on two wheels, several bicycle rental shops are available to serve you.

Laws Applicable to Cyclists:

Bicycles are subject to Massachusetts’s traffic laws and regulations, specifically:

  • Bicycles shall ride WITH traffic, to the right, and single file. DO NOT ride against traffic!

  • Bicyclists shall signal when turning or stopping (use either hand).

  • Bicyclists 16 and under MUST wear a helmet.

  • Bicyclists and passengers must ride on a permanent seat or child seat.

  • Bicyclists must not carry bundles, except in a basket or rack.

  • Parked bicycles may not obstruct vehicle or pedestrian traffic. This applies on the paths, too.

  • Bicycles ridden at night (1Q2 hour after sunset to 1Q2 hour before sunrise) must be equipped with front and rear lights, and have reflectors on both pedals.

  • Bicycles must not be towed, and must have a braking system.

Violations of the above laws are subject to fines, and police may impound the bicycles of cyclists under the age of 18.

Tips for Cyclists on Martha’s Vineyard

  • The Island features a network of multi-user paths available for your use. “Multi-user” means you share the path with walkers, runners, roller skaters, etc. All users should stay to the right on paths. Remember that pedestrians have the right of way on paths, and cyclists must give audible warning when passing (e.g., “Passing on your left.”).

  • Be alert for vehicles crossing the path from side roads and driveways when riding on multi-user paths.

  • Cyclists ALWAYS have the right to ride in the road if a path isn’t available, or conditions on the path are unsatisfactory.

  • Beware of sand and debris, soft road shoulders, and storm drains.

  • Always wear a helmet.

  • Headphones are unsafe when riding, as is using a cell phone.

  • Riding on sidewalks is permissible, except in downtown areas where posted.

  • Plan ahead: Food, water, bike shops, and restrooms are generally only available at town centers. Carry plenty of water, and the equipment and know-how to fix a flat tire. Also, bring a Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) schedule and fare as VTA buses are equipped with racks for two or three bikes.

  • Narrow, rural roads are part of the Island’s charm, but they often have little or no shoulder for cyclists. Especially up-Island, cyclists should evaluate their experience and comfort with riding in vehicular traffic that includes large trucks and buses.

Information produced by: the Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Joint transportation Committee, c/o Martha’s Vineyard Commission, P.O. Box 1447, Oak Bluffs, MA, 02557 (508) 693-3453 x16. Funded in part by Mass Highway and the Federal Highway Administration.

Download a map of recommended bicycle routes here.


 
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