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The path in the Martha's Vineyard State Forest largely avoid the intersection conflicts which bedevil many of the other paths and rail-trails described on this Web site. The State Forest paths can provide relatively carefree cycling even for casual cyclists, and provide access to parts of the State Forest which are not served by roads.  In this light, it is unfortunate that  these paths are relatively lightly used, not being convenient to the ferry docks.

Though the State Forest path runs parallel to roads for part of its length, it keeps far enough from them to avoid most of the typical sidepath problems. No driveways cross the path, and only a very few roads cross it. The path, which has existed since the 1970s, was repaved and widened in the mid-1990s.

However,  the T instersection of Airport Road-Edgartown-West Tisbury Road has serious design flaws, as shown in the two photos below (photos taken 1995).

In the first photo, we are looking east across Airport Road. The bicycle path runs from front to back, paralleling Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Just to the right   of the bicyclist's head is the yellow diamond "there are bicyclists somewhere in the area" sign. The vegetation on the same corner conceals bicyclists and right-turning vehicles from each other. The road markings on Airport road are new, but here is no crosswalk marking, and the stop line for Airport Road is after the bicycle path.

The single bollard in the middle of the path is well marked, and conforms to AASHTO guidelines.

9508N14B30Airport and E-VineyardH.jpg (44302 bytes)

The next photo shows the intersection  as viewed by a driver on Airport Road, headed toward Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.  In this photo, we can see that the stop sign for Airport Road is after the bke path. The driver of the red and white van, which is turning right, will be looking to the left for traffic rather than to the right into the bicycle path. The Pasanen study and others show that this is a particularly hazardous conflict.  The vegetation extending  nearly to the intersection reduces sight lines nearly to zero for motorists who are preparing to turn left across the path from the position of the black car. This conflict, too, can be expected to be very hazardous at this intersection.

9508N14B32Airport Road.jpg (51509 bytes)

A motorist crossing the path is probably supposed to yield, but is given inadequate and misleading information about the location of the path. A bicyclist crossing Airport Road on the path must look in every direction at once, because a motor vehicle from any direction may cross the bicyclist's path. However, traffic from some of these directions is concealed until the bicyclist has already entered the intersection.

A bicyclist riding on the roads has a much simpler task, as the traffic on the roads follows the standard, simple intersection  rules. However, the casual bicyclists who are least able to cope with the intersection difficulties prefer to ride on the path.