Landscaping rigs are getting bigger by the day, it seems, as a rolling army of 50-foot-long truck-and-trailer combinations bring all the machinery necessary for top-quality lawn care right to clients. But as these get even longer and more numerous, the conflicts between them and everyone are increasingly obvious. Local and state officials need to revisit the rules concerning what kind of vehicles can be left where and for how long. And they need to do this fast; it is only a matter of time before there is a serious injury or death, given the increasing congestion of South Fork roadways.
For a time, we wondered how serious the matter was or if it was more of a pet peeve than a legitimate issue. That changed after we heard from a North Haven reader who enjoys walking for fitness. Her experience has been that landscaping truck-trailers are left half in the Route 114 bicycle lane, and, more than once, she has had to step around them into traffic to get by. In our own experience, problems like this arise nearly everywhere, from narrow hamlet lanes to important back road bypasses.
With prices for even the smallest house lots rising sharply, one can sympathize with new homeowners who want their diminutive grounds to match the million-plus-plus they just spent. But for officials to allow them this luxury at the expense of good order on the road is unacceptable.
There are laws in place already prohibiting leaving vehicles in roadways except when loading and unloading. Despite this, police issue few warnings and fewer tickets. At the moment, landscapers can feel free to leave their vehicles blocking regular passage for as long as it takes them to complete a job. And, along with this negligible enforcement, the trucks and trailers have only gotten longer and are more frequently seen blocking the way. In an area where traffic is at the top of the complaint list, it is past time for more to be done.
As newspaper people and not highway engineers or transportation lawyers, all we can do is point to the problem and offer general suggestions. One is that the towns and villages pass ordinances prohibiting parking of vehicles over some set length, say 40 feet over all, except in marked spaces. Already, weight limits are common on the smaller streets, so there is precedent and an implicit interest in such things. Officials have also tried to quiet the leaf-blower onslaught, at least during the warm months. De-industrializing our narrow roads should be among the next quality-of-life discussions.
The East Hampton Village Board, in particular, has made tidy properties a focus. It should not demand trimmed hedges and the like and at the same time look past the fact that the streets themselves are becoming commercial parking lots. It is very difficult to enjoy an attractive streetscape if you cannot see for all the trucks.