Newport This Week

Social Distancing Not an Excuse for Lack of Courtesy

To the Editor:

Walking in Middletown has become more and more treacherous, as people venture out into the warmer weather for some fresh air and exercise. Most walkers are courteous, pulling up their face masks and making every effort to maintain 6 feet of spacing. There are a few joggers, often without masks, who will pass by panting out respiratory secretions. But again, most of them try to be polite.

Unfortunately, there is a breed of aggressive and narcissistic bicyclists who pose a significant public health risk. They are easy to recognize, donned in Lycra, bent over on their racing bikes as they speed down hills without any effort to slow down or move aside to avoid oncoming walkers. Efforts to escape them by dropping to single file walking are futile. On several occasions, I have had to flee into driveways or up grassy embankments to escape injury from both their chromed missiles, and feared respiratory exhalations. Subtle efforts, such as bearing out a bit into the roadway and calling “distance” are met with expletive (deleted) bellows and admonitions to “stay on the sidewalk” in neighborhoods lacking such amenities.

Perhaps they are so addled and besotted with their wheeled prowess that they forget they are subject to local laws, including “rules of the road” for cars, as well as recent government decree for social distancing. Since common courtesy and human decency elude them, perhaps a ticket from law enforcement will convince them to reconsider their arrogant behavior on the shared roadways in Middletown.

Barbara Reiser

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