Cape Cod Summer Fun: Biking & Hiking
Biking on Cape Cod: BE SAFE & KNOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD
According to the Cape Cod Times, roughly 400,000 bikers use the region’s main bike trail, which stretches 22 miles from Dennis to Provincetown by rail trail. Bicycle riders increase exponentially when you add in bikers on shared-use roadways, including Route 6 and 6A which are state highways. Especially in the summer months, when motorists from all over the world flock to the Cape, biking can be a dangerous proposition. On average, 1-2 cyclists die every year, and others have had their bicycle destroyed or sustained grievous injuries from cars. On July 23rd a bicyclist was injured badly after colliding with a car at the corner of Route 28 and Old Stage Road in Centerville. Another biker was clipped on Bearses Way in Hyannis just the day before. Here’s what you need to know about pedestrian and bike safety on Cape Cod.
How to Stay Safe While Walking or Biking on the Cape
In Massachusetts, bicycle helmets are required for youth under 16, but they’re a good idea for anyone who wants to reduce the odds of a fatal accident.
When possible, especially if you are biking on a roadway, look at maps before you go. The Cape has a fair share of narrow one-lane highways, where car, truck or recreational vehicle drivers are not necessarily expecting to share the roads. By identifying known trouble spots, such as along 6A in Sandwich and Barnstable or on the outer Cape in Truro’s Old County Road, you can either alter your route or know where to pay extra attention.
Attorney Paul Aiken urges bike riders and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road. “If you get hurt and you’re on the wrong side of the road, the insurance company may deny your claim. If you drive a bicycle in Massachusetts, you ride with traffic. And there is usually a white line along the side of the road, I would encourage bicyclists to drive to the left of the white line because it allows the motorist to realize that you’re on the road, and he has to go around you safely.”
If you ride or walk at night, use bike lights and wear a reflective vest, so cars can see you. Follow traffic laws and avoid the sidewalk, where you’re invisible to cars. Click Below to Listen
What to Do If You’re in an Accident
Take identification with you, including your license or passport and your cell phone, so relatives can be notified. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. If you’re traveling alone, perhaps post to social media or text a friend, then send a second text or update your message upon return.
If you are hit by a car or other motorist while biking or hiking, call the police, even if you think you are fine. It’s critical that you file a police report including all the facts of the incident, as the police report can help you pursue an insurance or legal claim. It’s also a good idea to have the name of a local personal injury law firm handy before you go on a bike ride or hike. This way, if something does go wrong, you already have the name of someone to call.
Where to Bike and Hike Safely on Cape Cod
There are several bicycle and pedestrian paths along the Cape. Not only do these show off some of the natural environment of the region, but they’re safe, since cars are prohibited. You’re far less likely to get hurt by riding or walking in a car-free zone.
On the outer Cape, there are three bike trails within the Cape Cod National Seashore: Province Lands, Nauset and Head of the Meadow. Together, these offer just under 10 miles of biking; they’re also used by hikers since they connect to seashore hiking pathways.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail spans 22 miles, connecting South Wellfleet with South Dennis. On the lower Cape, the Old Colony Rail Trails runs 8 miles, from Chatham to Harwich, and 14 miles of bike path stretch alongside the Cape Cod Canal on the upper Cape. The Shining Sea Bikeway connects Falmouth to Woods Hole. Pedestrians are welcome to use bike paths for walking. Hikers can also enjoy the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, Great Island, or Mass Audubon in Wellfleet. Indian Lands Conservation Area in Dennis has a network of trails. Beebe Woods or Falmouth or the Shawme Crowell State Forest in Sandwich, which has campgrounds, are other good options for off-road walks.
By following these tips, you can enjoy an active vacation on Cape Cod without sacrificing your health — or your life — in the process.