A Vermonter's Tale as Old as Time: Share the Road
For Goodness' Sake: Let's Remember How to Share
For many, living in Vermont and New Hampshire is so appealing because of how residence co-exist with the world around them. We often take the road less traveled because it's the only way to get to work, we ride the river's meandering current at whatever speed it chooses to take us, we coax liquid sugar from trees every spring, and proudly claim a 5th season that revolves around mud. No matter what time of year it is we will find a way to embrace our surroundings because it what we love to do.
Like many, I choose to engage with nature through cardiovascular activity, specifically running and road biking. I run almost every day on several back roads of Quechee, Woodstock, Pomfret. The most frequent being River Road that runs several miles through multiple towns. It is mainly dirt and to call it a two-lane roadway would be generous. It is a beautiful spot to run any time of day and extremely accessible. It is even a portion of the Covered Bridges Half Marathon route! The problem I've noticed is it's simply becoming dangerous, even as a seasoned Vermonter and runner.
The speed limit fluctuates between 25 and 35 miles per hour along the stretch of this road; for those of you who may need a refresher, the definition of speed limit (defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary) is "the maximum or minimum speed permitted by law in a given area under specified circumstances". As someone who has been in both the position of the driver and the pedestrian on this road, when people are running, walking or biking warrants specified circumstances for me and as a result, I slow down and yield as much as I am able to, given the width of the particular area.
As a runner, I always run against traffic as the Vermont Agency of Transportation suggests pedestrians do, and if I'm with someone we stay single file whenever cars are coming. I look forward to my run every day and I often feel so thankful that I get to live in a place where I can easily be outside enjoying such a beautiful place. However, it continues to disappoint me when I see people such as parents in minivans speeding by me without yielding even talking on their cell phone (illegal in the state of Vermont.) Not only are they breaking several traffic laws, but they're not demonstrating to their children how to participate the lifestyle here. If you'd like to travel at faster speeds without interacting with those on foot I'm not sure this is the place for you. I understand that roads were technically made for cars, but that's just not how people operate here. At the end of the day, when you're driving an automobile diregarding another human being's safety, regardless of rules, laws or technicalities, you're the one who will have to live with the consequences of what could happen.
I am not trying to give a lecture or rant, and I know this is a widely debated issue and not new information to many, but it's important because it's something that affects us everyday. I know that life is hectic and fast-paced for a lot of people in the Upper Valley despite the outside misperception, but we are lucky that this is where we live. Like any place in the world, there are challenges to living here, if this is one of ours' we are fortunate because there are a lot of bigger problems plaguing others. If you're one of those who speed by me, get outside, take a walk and check out the sunset streaked across the vibrant green hillsides, that's what's worth yielding for. If that view doesn't make you slow down, then you might have bigger problems than a sunset stroll will resolve. If you're already out there and know my pain, don't forget cars are bigger than you, and chances are if you can't see them, they won't see you. Pay attention, be visible and don't take up more space than you need to. And for goodness' sake, don't forget to be grateful, open your eyes and look at where we live people!