A timely educational piece from the Brewster Police Department:
There are a few things one should not discuss in polite company: Religion, Politics, and ones viewpoint on appropriate behavior at the bike path crossings. We're going to take a stab at the latter and hopefully end the debate:
First off, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is an incredible asset to the Town of Brewster, that brings many people to our quaint piece of paradise. That being said, we want to make sure motorists and cyclists understand their responsibilities when they come face-to-face.
For Cyclists: As you approach the road crossings on the bike path you will notice stop signs...those are for you. Cyclists are required to stop. There is no legal requirement that you dismount your bike, however, if you opt to stay on your bike you are treated just like a motorist attempting to cross from a side street. If the approaching vehicles decide to stop and let you cross, that is a courtesy, and it is very important to note, that just because traffic coming from one direction has stopped, does not mean traffic coming from the other direction is going to. Again, imagine yourself driving a car, crossing a busy intersection and you have the stop sign, while crossing traffic does not. Now if you decide to dismount your bike and walk it across...you are afforded all the rights of a pedestrian.
For Motorists: Many of our bike path crossings have a new flashing light warning system (see attached photo). If these are flashing, it means someone may be approaching a crossing. This could be a pedestrian, a cyclist, or maybe even Bambi looking for his family. If you see the lights activated, it makes sense to slow down as you approach the crossing. If you see a pedestrian entering the crosswalk, including someone who is walking their bike, you are required to yield the right of way. If you see a cyclists and you wish to stop for them...that is mighty kind of you. Please, however, do not lock up your brakes to extend that courtesy...unless of course you are on a collision course with someone. Sudden braking could result in you becoming a lot more familiar with the person traveling behind you than you would probably like.
For All: We do our best to educate the public about the rules of the road. We accomplish this through extra patrols of the area via police cruiser and police bikes, we pass out informational flyers to cyclists, and we even meet with many of our J1 students at their employment orientations to talk about bike safety and the rules of road. The tough thing about education is our summer population is very transient and even if we stopped every car and every bike on a given weekend to educate them, the next weekend we see thousands of new people who didn't get the memo from the weekend before. We will continue to do our part, please continue to do your part. Patience and courtesy go a long way.