Photo by L.A. Brown
Scrambling around on a bicycle can be one of the best ways to see Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard roads are a bicycle rider’s dream: The Island is relatively flat, and the only real hills of any consequence are the up-Island and State Road hills in Vineyard Haven. There are nearly 40 miles of shared-use or bike trails that bicyclists of most any ability can traverse, and many more miles of off-road trails that require a suitable bike and varying levels of skill. The State Forest paved paths are clear most of the year, though there is light running and in-line skating traffic. There is a good loop around the airport for a 12-mile workout without much interference.
The up-Island towns of Chilmark and Aquinnah do not have bike paths but the rolling hills, ocean vistas, and light traffic on the roads are heaven to cyclists. Riding at the right times, early mornings or late afternoons usually, a cyclist can cover the entire Island road system with remarkably little interference from cars.
Beware of traffic at all times, especially at a few busy locations such as: Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, upper Main Street in Edgartown, and Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
For local and state bike rules and laws, and a great cycling map of the Island, check out the “Mass In Motion: Martha’s Vineyard” bicycling brochure, which includes the following guidelines:
-Narrow, rural roads are part of the Island’s charm, but they often have little or no shoulder for cyclists — especially up-Island. Make it easier for motorists to share the road by staying to the right, and if riding in a group, spacing yourselves to allow passing.
-Beware of sand and debris on roads and paths…
-Riding on sidewalks is permissible, except in downtown areas where posted.
-Plan ahead: Carry plenty of water. Food, water, bike shops and restrooms are generally only available at town centers. Also, bring a Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) schedule and fare in case you become tired or stranded with a flat tire; VTA buses are equipped with racks for two or three bikes.
Bike rentals available at:
Edgartown Bicycles 508-627-9008, edgartownbicycles.com.
Edgartown Bike Rentals 800-627-2763.
Wheel Happy 508-627-5881.
Anderson’s Bike Rentals 508-693-9356
King’s Rental 508-693-1887
Sun ‘N Fun Inc. 508-693-5457.
Vineyard Bicycles 508-693-8693
Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals 800-559-0312, marthasbikerentals.com.