Moped Rider Hit and Injured at Blinker; Selectmen Will Consider Four-Way Stop

By CHRIS BURRELL

One day after a moped rider was hit by a car at the blinker light - the fifth accident at the crossroads so far this year - leaders in Oak Bluffs are poised to take drastic action to make one of the Island's most dangerous intersections safer.

One immediate option already on the table is a four-way stop.

"Everyone knows it's a terrible intersection, and we're pressuring to get a resolution," Oak Bluffs highway superintendent Richard Combra Jr. told the Gazette this week. "The board of selectmen will be contemplating installing a four-way stop as a safety measure. In the short term, we need to do something."

Selectman Greg Coogan told the Gazette yesterday that his board has called on fire and police officials to attend their regular meeting Tuesday and discuss what to do about the intersection while the town awaits funding for a roundabout, or small rotary, at the site.

"That intersection scares me, it scares everybody," said Mr. Coogan. "We need to do something to protect people."

According to Oak Bluffs police, there were nine accidents at the blinker last year and eight in 2001. Add the five accidents from this year, and the crash total for the last two and a half years is already 22, surpassing the previous three-year total for the intersection, which was 18 accidents.

Town officials had hoped that the roundabout would be under construction before this summer, but state funds won't be available until next year.

Mr. Combra said that a joint transportation committee, which met this week at the Martha's Vineyard Commission, decided to earmark state transportation money for the roundabout. Total cost to construct the smaller-scaled rotary is expected to be $175,000.

"We're definitely moving forward, and a public information meeting will happen sometime in July," he added.

Wednesday's accident sent a 26-year-old Quincy woman to the hospital after she was hit by a car while riding her moped east on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

The woman, Cynthia Huynh, 26, of Quincy, was taken by ambulance to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital where she was treated for lacerations and contusions and then released.

Ms. Huynh had rented her moped from Ride-On Mopeds in Oak Bluffs and was heading toward Edgartown when she was struck by a Ford station wagon driven by Cheryl Best, 33, of Vineyard Haven. Ms. Best was trying to turn left onto the busy highway in the midst of rush-hour traffic at about 5:30 p.m.

As traffic on all sides quickly backed up while police waited for emergency medical technicians, Ms. Huynh lay on the pavement in the center of the intersection, her left knee bleeding and three people leaning over her to keep her still.

A lone sneaker sat out on the road, more than 20 feet away. The black moped, its brand label peeling away from the frame, was turned over in front of the light blue station wagon. The police report listed the moped as totaled.

While the accident pointed to dangers of the blinker light intersection, it also comes at a time of increasing controversy around mopeds both in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury, the only two towns on the Island where mopeds are rented.

Yesterday, a lawyer for Tisbury moped dealer Robert Clermont went to court in Fall River, seeking a preliminary injunction against Tisbury selectmen, who voted last month to cap the number of mopeds rented by each dealer in town at 25.

Three businesses have licenses to rent mopeds in Tisbury, but only one - Adventure Rentals on Beach Road, owned by Mr. Clermont - actively rents them. His license had previously allowed him to keep 90 mopeds for rent.

The judge in the case had not yet issued a decision when the Bristol Superior Court office closed for business yesterday at 4:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Oak Bluffs, selectmen were split this month over whether to renew the license for the Island's biggest moped dealer - Mark Wallace - after he failed to turn in application papers and his fee on time.

Mr. Wallace owns Ride-On Mopeds, the dealership that rented Wednesday's crash victim her moped.

Three weeks ago, three Oak Bluffs selectmen - Richard Combra, Greg Coogan and Todd Rebello - decided not to try enforcing their new bylaws.

Under the town's new moped bylaws, passed unanimously at annual town meeting last year, Mr. Wallace's tardiness could have cost him his license and taken 120 mopeds off Vineyard roads if selectmen had opted to make a case.

Those rules state that anyone "engaged in the business of renting, leasing or keeping for rent any motor scooters or mopeds without first obtaining a new license shall be deemed to have forfeited its license."

According to records in the selectmen's office, Mr. Wallace filed his application papers four days late and didn't pay his $2,900 fee until almost a month past the deadline.

Oak Bluffs police told the Gazette last week that Ride-On Mopeds on Oak Bluffs avenue had its mopeds on display for at least part of May.

Selectman Roger Wey refused to add his name to the license for Mr. Wallace. "I was asked to sign it, but I feel it's an invalid license," said Mr. Wey. "Everybody's got to be treated the same in this town."