Two things have stood out this summer: traffic is amazingly heavy and the temperatures are unbearable. That means the cash registers must be filling up and parking places are scarce as hot February days.
Some relations were vacationing recently, and they went to Cape May. After all, it's the namesake city of the county, so why wouldn’t they want to visit? The irksome thing was they weren't alone. Traffic into the Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort as at a creep, and exiting was even slower, more stop than go.
Traffic engineers could spend a week or two and probably conclude that spending $600,000 in the Schellenger Landing area for snazzy pedestrian upgrades are only going to make things worse for drivers. Imagine the mess if New York City had a two-way street entering and exiting. That's Cape May on a smaller scale.
In a hurricane evacuation, one can only imagine the sheer panic that might grip drivers as they eagerly wait to leave the city over Schellenger's Landing Bridge, one lane, one hope, one escape, but not until the next guy moves.
Those with any wise ideas how best to rectify this traffic mess let me know. The world is waiting to hear such news.
Some of the recent recommendations of Cape May's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee may have raised a few eyebrows (while furrowing others) but I give the city credit for trying to address a problem.
Bicycles are a blessing or a bane, depending upon whether one is pedaling or driving. I love to bicycle, but I put myself in a limited class of riders. I always wear a helmet and gloves, have lights, front and rear, and obey traffic laws (even red lights). Why? Because cyclists are no match against something that seriously outweighs them and is going faster than they are. I call it the law of survival.
Sadly, that sentiment is not held by many who hop on a bike and think they own the road, free as the wind, and lawless to boot. I'm mortified to see children riding bikes without helmets. It's my belief that adult riders ought to set the standard and always wear a helmet. Gloves? One fall to the ground at 10 mph and bloody hands (or worse) might convince riders to don some hand protection next time.
Back to Cape May County, which is trying to come to grips with an increasing number of bicyclists.
Taking a look at what some cities nationwide and worldwide have done to accommodate bicycles shows us that we have a light year or two to advance before the entire county is "bike friendly." Yes, the bike paths we have are great, but they must be maintained or else they become a liability. We have a long way to ride until we get to our destination.
Reading Spout Offs, and having been jarred from complacency by tree roots under the bike path in Court House and Erma, it seems there ought to be some ownership of maintaining the county’s and/or townships' paths. Riders who aren't aware of the bumps ahead could be in for a nasty fall or an eye-opening series of rattles.
Crossing heavily trafficked roads, including Routes 9 and 47, can be a life-threatening challenge for bike riders, since some motorists are more interested in their cell phones than cyclists.
As the terrific heat kept me indoors July 20-21, I began to ponder the traffic situation in the summer. I wondered what it would be like if, once a certain number of cars entered let’s say Cape May, a gate would lower, and no more cars could enter until others left.
Head to the Cape May County Park on a "non-beach" day in summer and you're likely to see "Lot Full" signs. What if a city had a "No more parking spaces" light that flashed before the masses got over the bridge, say into Cape May?
Could there be such a thing as a parking app that would tell motorists where they might locate a place for their vehicle?
It would save time, aggravation, and clean the air, since vehicles wouldn't have to drive up and down clogged streets in search of non-existent spaces.
If Americans were smart enough to engineer a lunar landing 50 years ago, I see no reason why the same "can do" spirit could not be pressed into service to solve parking problems in Cape May. Why stop with Cape May? There are other towns where parking is limited and nerves are easily frayed while in search of a space to park.
Since officials market this county as a tourist paradise, they could at least make parking less burdensome for the weary traveler. The old county motto was "Where nature smiles for 30 miles." That's impossible when parking is limited, your nerves are shot and then a bicycle whizzes past.