Around the Island

Fit Island: Share the road


It’s that time of year when we start to see more traffic on our roads including the two-wheeled kind — and as temperatures go up, patience goes down. Hopefully by practicing a few commonsense rules and some tolerance, we can all share the roads and stay safe.

Cycling is a terrific workout as well as great transportation. It’s also an exercise that is particularly good for the brain. Research has shown that aerobic exercise is important for cognitive function, and exercise that raises the heart rate while requiring us to think is the gold standard for neurogenesis.

When you ride a bike outdoors you can check several items on the list of healthy activities that improve physical and mental function. It strengthens the heart and lungs; it builds strong legs; it gets you out in the fresh air; it forces you to use your core to maintain balance; and it requires you to think and pay attention to what is going on around you. Riding a bike requires some skill, but it can be a fun way to see the Island while staying fit.

Bikes are considered moving vehicles. As such, they are supposed to adhere to traffic laws. This includes riding single file, stopping at intersections, signaling turns and riding with the flow of traffic (never against, which is extremely dangerous). Helmets are not required by law, but wearing one is crucial to safe cycling.

Motorists, please wait until it is safe to pass regardless of what is blocking the road (whether it’s a pack of cyclists or a gaggle of turkeys). Don’t assume that the oncoming lane is available for passing if you can’t see that it is. Slow down (or stop), wait until you can see a safe opportunity to pass and then give the cyclist (walkers, runners and turkeys) a wide berth.

If you live here year-round you have the good fortune of enjoying Shelter Island during calmer days. We need to remind ourselves that summer vacationers don’t always understand that we have places to be as they meander down the road three or four abreast marveling at the beautiful view. Rather than get annoyed, take a moment (and a few deep breaths) and try to look at our Island as if you are seeing it for the first time too.

And if you happen to be one of those two-wheeling tourists, be aware Island roads are not bike paths. They are active, sometimes extremely active, thoroughfares. Ride single file and stay alert to ensure your vacation is a safe one.