I rode my bike to the fireworks at Compo Beach this year. I parked in the Westport Farmer’s Market lot on Imperial Ave around 7:30 pm. It was an easy ride to the beach. In fact, it made me downright giddy riding past the line of cars waiting to park. Finding a spot to sit and watch the fireworks on the beach was also easy. We sat practically in front of the barge on the main section of Compo beach.

 

Westport puts on a terrific fireworks display & we were not disappointed.

 

And then, the fireworks ended…and the mad, mad rush to leave the beach area began.

 

As in previous years, there were plenty of traffic cops directing car traffic. Both lanes were open for exiting car traffic. Walkers, wagons, strollers, and bikers were everywhere-on the sidewalk, in the bike lane and on the road. Pedestrians/riders were not given any clear directions. Drivers were impatient and the 3-foot clearance rule was certainly not in effect. In addition, most bicycles did not display any lights. Overall, the exiting process via bicycle left me feeling unnerved.

 

IMG_1484I believe that we, as a community, can create an easier, more organized, and safer exit strategy for the fireworks traffic that is both car-friendly and pedestrian/biker-friendly.

 

So, here’s a first draft of a plan:

 

Let’s have additional parking at Imperial Ave with transit shuttle…minimal cost per person. Transit buses will use an “express lane”and drop riders off at the main beach. Walkers (only) use the sidewalk. Bike riders use a designated bike lane on one side on Compo Rd South with a pop up cone barrier. All traffic (foot & car) is organized and directed by traffic cops.

 

When the fireworks are over, the process runs in reverse. One lane is for cars. One lane is an express lane for transit buses shuttling people back to Imperial Ave. Walkers (only) stay on sidewalk. Riders stay in the designated bike lane with pop up safety cones. Everyone is directed by traffic cops.

 

I see 2 obstacles: Parking passes are a fundraiser for Westport PAL and cars may have a longer wait. Parking at Imperial Ave could  have a nominal fee. And, if  a smooth organized system is in place for all traffic, my guess is that, in the end, cars won’t wait all that much longer than they do under the current system and pedestrians/bikers will be a lot safer and a lot happier.

 

I understand that this solution requires a shift in thinking.  Here’s my question: are we committed as a community to supporting pedestrian/bike friendly options for town-wide events, such as the Fireworks at Compo Beach to a bike-walk safety plan?