Editorial: Go Ride a Bike

Beach bike
Beach bike

When we were children, spring brought with it a sense of hope and renewal, the promise of summer’s barbecues and lazy backyard afternoons. Those of us who grew up here were lucky to never have an understanding of what it is to spend a childhood far from the shore.

But these days, the warming weather brings with it a sudden glut of traffic, a tightening of our hearts and an impatience borne of too many seasons living in a resort area on the tipping point of an unsustainable future.

After enough seasons sitting in traffic, it’s easy to lose your patience at the faintest perceived slight. It’s easy to covet the wealth we see around us every day, or to feel inferior for what we haven’t done that’s kept us from achieving what so many others have made seem easy — at least at first blush.

It takes discipline and some sense of inner peace, as Memorial Day approaches, to not begin drowning in the tension that the summer season brings to this place.

Earth Day had just passed as The Beacon went to press, and as we traveled from one tip of the forks to the other, we were impressed by the crowds that had gathered to celebrate the natural beauty that brought us all to this crazy place at the island’s end.

Through several days of steady drizzle, we took pictures as our fellow East Enders picked up trash, planted trees, set out on educational missions and ran races to protect what’s left of this special place.

It was a welcome antidote from Easter’s unseasonable and somewhat creepy heat, a balmy beach day with no leaves yet on our deciduous trees. It was also a great reminder that the beauty of this place is something we all want to protect and preserve.

As Memorial Day approaches, you will probably also feel that tightening in your chest that comes with the knowledge that summers here have become a non-stop traffic jam, an interminable line at the grocery store, an endless stream of houseguests and beaches whose one common thread is their overflowing garbage pails.

Under such conditions, it’s easy to hate. Our proposed antidote to this virulent summer hatefest is to ride a bicycle.

That might sound to you like a crazy idea. After all, the traffic here is dangerous enough if you’re driving a car. It may seem like a death sentence to take on that traffic on a tiny steel steed. We’ll let you know how our experiment goes.

May is National Bike Month, as those of you who are cyclists probably know, but this editorial is not a call-to-action for the dyed-in-the-Lycra cycling crowd. It’s a call to all of us couch potatoes to think of the bicycle as the amazing tool it is: real scientists have calculated that bicycling is the most biologically and mechanically efficient form of human-powered transportation.

On a community level, it’s also a great connector between modes of public transportation, the missing link in so many plans to make rural public transit a viable way to get around the Twin Forks.

We wholeheartedly endorse the idea of a bike sharing project for Suffolk County, and we hope that our East End towns buy into the idea of making bicycles available to the public at our transportation hubs. This is the kind of human-scale, innovative thinking that we need to stave off the crush of the summer season, and to allow our communities to remain healthy and interconnected all throughout the calendar year.

East End Beacon

The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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