This week is Car-Free Week in Massachusetts. The state government encourages residents to leave the car at home and use public transportation, bike or walk to get around town. The Department of Transportation says, at least go “car-light” and carpool.
What does that mean in the town of Barnstable.
“Getting around without a car?” Reggie Towns said at the Hyannis Transportation Center. “It ain’t easy.”
The Transportation Center, off Center Street near downtown Hyannis, combines car parking lots, a taxi lane and bike racks with regional bus lines and the CCRTA. Tuesday, the parking lots were a quarter full, the taxi’s stood in line, the bike racks had lots of capacity and the CCRTA buses left the terminal with plenty of empty seats.
The CCRTA provides reasonably good service in comfortable coaches nearly on time. The ride from the Cape Cod Mall to nearby Capetown Plaza, Southwind Plaza and Festival Mall takes 13 minutes as promised. That’s a portion of the Barnstable Villager Route that connects Hyannis with Barnstable Village. The buses run hourly and charge $2 for a one-way ticket.
Other lines go to Falmouth and Orleans, but no regular service connects the other villages of the town. There’s no service to West Barnstable, Marstons Mills, Cotuit, Centerville, Craigville, Hyannisport, Osterville. The west end of Hyannis? You’re on your own.
Seniors can take advantage of the B-Bus, the town’s equivalent of Dial-A-Ride.
“It’s excellent,” Loretta Sprague said waiting for her ride home outside the Cape Cod Mall.
It was difficult to find someone on a bike. One guy stopped briefly on his way out of the transportation center.
“It’s not friendly out there,” a bicyclist who would not give his name said of the competition for space with cars on the local roads.
The bike rack at the mall had no takers. The two racks at the Transportation center had eight of 30 spaces occupied.
What about walking?
Downtown Hyannis has sidewalks on either side of Main Street and crosswalks that drivers seem to respect, most of the time. But, where residents actually shop, at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and the shopping centers off Route 132, walking is as risky as shooting Wood’s Hole in a small boat.
“I’ve done it,” Sprague said. “You have to time the lights.”
It’s a challenge walking from the Festival Mall stop of the CCRTA back to Cape Cod Mall. There are few sidewalks and crosswalks. The biggest challenge comes at Route 132. The road has a sidewalk on one side that stops north of the mall. Wear running shoes to get across the six lanes of roadway.
The single sidewalk ends between the mall and the Airport Rotary. Last week a driver hit a pedestrian in the rotary. Except in village centers, walking is not a good option.
Old-style hitch-hiking didn’t turn out well, either. No takers on busy Yarmouth Road.
Back to the Jeep.