Stranded at the Rotary
To the editor:
On Aug. 8 at 4 p.m., a young woman holding a pizza box waited patiently to cross Route 6 at the northern edge of the Orleans rotary. She was at the curb where a poorly marked crosswalk comes through the opening in the fence from Old State Highway and connects to the sidewalk on the opposite side. A continuous stream of cars and trucks curved north out of the rotary and flew past her toward the Outer Cape.
As we drove toward the rotary, my wife slowly stopped our car, creating an opportunity for the woman to cross our southbound lane if the northbound traffic were to give her the same chance.
The traffic going north into Eastham didn’t stop. We drove away, leaving the woman stranded on the side of the highway.
We called the Eastham and Orleans police and were told by a sympathetic Orleans dispatcher that MassDOT and the state police have jurisdiction over that crosswalk.
This is not an isolated case. Many times this summer and over the years I have observed pedestrians and children and families with bicycles waiting for a chance to cross in heavy traffic at that spot. Except for the Fort Hill pedestrian crossing light, no meaningful work has been done recently to make any part of the four lanes of Route 6 in Eastham more friendly to people on foot.
Cyclists as well as pedestrians use this crosswalk every day, and it needs a lot of work to make it safe and functional. I have written to MassDOT’s Highway Division and copied state and local police and municipal and state leaders, requesting immediate action to install signs and make upgrades to improve safety and accessibility at this popular state highway crossing.
North Eastham and Palmer
Protecting the Pollinators
To the editor:
Summer on the Cape wouldn’t be the same without fresh tomatoes from the farmers market, wild blueberries back in the woods, or beautiful beach roses studding the shore. But none of these would be possible without our local pollinators.
The Independent’s front-page article in the Aug. 10 issue about the growing use of pesticides intended to target mosquitoes and ticks, especially in individual yards, reported the devastating effect on bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. It was shocking to learn that thousands of John Portnoy’s honeybees have died.
The only thing missing from this important, thorough, and engaging article was an alternative to toxic chemicals that don’t even work.
There are many flower species that act as natural mosquito repellents: lavender, marigold, chrysanthemum, and geranium, to name a few. What’s more, these blooms actually benefit the pollinators. We can have it both ways: goodbye mosquitoes, hello bees and butterflies.
Gardeners and landscape companies would do well to consider using these natural alternatives to insecticides. The whole world relies on these humble insects. Any effort to protect them will protect us, too.
Wellfleet and Holyoke
The writer is a student at Smith College.
Our Small Island
To the editor:
After the fire that destroyed the beautiful, historic town of Lahaina on Maui, we would be remiss to ignore the lessons of that tragedy. We share many aspects of that town, from geography to historical significance and reliance on tourism.
Shortly after I moved into my new home in Truro, high on a hill surrounded by forest, I was told that we were at least 50 years overdue for a major forest fire and that my house was “ground zero.” I lose sleep when we are in the midst of a drought, when people shoot off fireworks or have bonfires on windy days, or when lightning strikes a little too close for comfort.
While our wild parkland is a treasure, the fact is the woodlands are undermanaged and overgrown. There is enough dry underbrush for a fire to get out of control pretty quickly, especially on windy days, of which there are many.
Provincetown, whose historic beauty we relish, is a tragedy waiting to happen with its packed neighborhoods of old wooden homes and commercial buildings.
Add the fact that we are, essentially, on a small island with only one main road to the mainland. Many neighborhoods, including mine, have private roads with no fire hydrants or access to water and countless dead-ends. Escaping an inferno that is raging at a mile a minute, which was the estimated speed of the Lahaina fire, would be impossible, and fire trucks would have little chance to reach these areas.
The best way we can honor the people of Maui would be to become more proactive about this issue. We could easily be next.
An Ocean Without Oxygen
To the editor:
Re “Lobstermen Face Hypoxia in Outer Cape Waters” [Aug. 17, front page]:
The prospect of a hypoxic sea is a terrifying one. Everything good that lives in the ocean needs oxygen.
An ocean without oxygen is an ocean where nothing lives except anaerobic bacteria — microbes that don’t need oxygen to survive. A lot of those types of microorganisms excrete gases that are poisonous. If we keep making the oceans warmer and hypoxia occurs in larger and larger areas, we could someday end up with a lot of anaerobic bacteria.
That’s a problem way beyond the availability of lobster. Lobsters are like the canaries in the coal mine: they’re giving us a warning that we ignore at our peril.
This is happening because we are heating the planet by the use of oil and gas. It is time to treat that practice as the existential threat that it is. The opportunity to phase out carbon-based fuel slowly is over. The emergency is beginning.
We need to start looking for ways to end our dependence on coal, oil, and gas as quickly as possible. If we don’t, we’ll soon face an angry sea, and you don’t need to be a deepwater man to know that’s a bad thing.
Extending the Rail Trail
To the editor:
Thanks for Elias Schisgall’s informative update on the state of the Cape Cod Rail Trail extension [“4 Years On, Uncertainty Lingers at Bike Path’s End,” Aug. 17, front page]. The new 0.7-mile stretch is a genuine pleasure to bike on — which only serves to amplify awareness of the wrong-headedness of the town’s opposition to extending the Rail Trail for another mile northward.
In the short run, however, something needs to be done to connect the existing endpoint to Old King’s Highway, just a quarter mile to the west. The simplest solution would be to allow passage on the paved road through the state-owned campground, but there must be other options as well.
Your article focuses on the frustrations of cyclists interested in biking all the way to Provincetown. But making this connection would greatly facilitate the ability of locals to move between the middle and southern parts of the town and to points further south without needing to get into a car, to bike on Route 6, or to add almost two hilly miles of cycling out to Ocean View Drive and back.
Wellfleet and Cambridge
Bike Path Solution
To the editor:
Your article on the Rail Trail details the frustration many feel about the search for a solution to the Route 6 problem that has been debated ad nauseam.
What about a tunnel?