As a Boston resident, I’ve frequently visited the Falmouth area of Cape Cod. As a New York native, I am in the Hamptons every summer for a week or two. In both cases, we visit family and don’t have a place of our own. We don’t want the hassle of owning a second home, but, occasionally, I might day dream about the type of location I would pick for a “country home”. I would start to think about the activities I would want to fill my leisure time with. Hiking, biking, or skiing would lead me to the mountains or the forests. Sun bathing, sailing and swimming would require water and a beach or shore. Another critical choice that is not well considered is how to commute to those leisurely activities. Researchers have shown that people underestimate the cost of long commutes to their well-being when selecting a house (See this Science Blog article). I would guess that individuals who make second home decisions spend little time thinking about how they will get around, unless their main sport is biking.
As for me, commuting to the activities I prefer is of some importance. I would want to give my car a rest once I got to my vacation destination in order to get around by foot, bike, or scooter. I would want a place to be located near true biking and walking paths that could take me to a town or restaurant. From personal experience, the Hamptons doesn’t fare as well in the category of fun and relaxing transportation. While Hamptons beaches are beautiful, getting there by bike is not particularly safe. Bikes lanes are scarce and many country roads have 30 to 40mph speed limits. The situation may improve as two New York Senators just passed a law that will lead to reduction in speed limits on certain streets. But, reduced speed limits alone won’t be enough to encourage families to travel by bike. Protected bike paths are needed.
Cape Cod has a unique advantage in the area of stress free and scenic commuting thanks to its many bike trails. We had a recent opportunity to experience biking on one of the Cape’s more famous protected and paved bike lanes, The Shining Sea Bike Path in Falmouth, MA. While we enjoy biking for the sake of it, we did have a purpose to our trip: get from our hotel to the Woods Hole area and visit the Aquarium. It was a fun 3-mile tour, of an 11-mile path, that gave our kids a nice breath of fresh air. The scenery along the path is diverse and beautiful, with views of marshes, woodlands, salt ponds, and the sea shore. But, the path provides more than pretty scenery, it also gets residents and tourists to destinations they want to get to: research laboratories, restaurants, shops and museums.
Per the Cape Cod Bike Guide, the Shining Sea Bike Path is but one of six paved bike trails on Cape Cod. The site also lists five off road trails. With this list of options, we’re already planning a return visit.