Public access, private thoughts

I was walking down Tuckerman Avenue earlier today, when I came across this sign:


Public access to the shore is the way the public can legally reach and enjoy coastal areas and resources.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to take the path less traveled (at least for me).

On my trek from curbside Tuckerman Ave to the shoreline, I couldn’t help but think, this public access is not very accessible.  The path was overgrown, uneven and rocky in most parts, muddy and narrow in others. At one point, I had to crouch to make my way through a tunnel of shrubbery, the ground beneath my feet, a treacherous gully (can a gully be treacherous?).

As I made my way down the path, I imagined an animated discussion between Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with an exasperated Clark shouting “Turn around Lew, she’s impassable” and “It’s risky business, this path to the shoreline, I fear we may lose some people!” – but I soldiered on.

If you ask me, accessible should mean accessible to a wide spectrum of people. If your  Nana can safely walk the path with a less than 50 % chance of fracturing a hip, then I say its accessible. I’m not sure the path from Tuckerman Ave to the shoreline passes the Nana test.


Once I made it to the shore, I headed in the direction of Sachuaest beach, hoping to make my way to Purgatory chasm and to the lower end of Tuckerman Ave — and eventually back to my car, which  I had parked at the local YMCA.

I’ve lived on Aquidneck Island for nearly half a century and this was the first time walking this particular shoreline – its really quite beautiful.

The rocky terrain was not easy and it was slippery in parts. I was reminded several times that mother nature doesn’t give a shit when you say “I got this” — having slipped twice on slimy seaweed-covered rocks.

I ran out of walkable terrain before I could reach Purgatory Chasm, so I had to double back. But all-in-all, it was a productive, mind-clearing walk, and a nice reminder of how fortunate I am to have ended up on Aquidneck Island.



  1. several years ago one of the boys in my son’s boy scout troop took up providing signage for public access points in common fence point in portsmouth as part of his eagle project – the day we helped him to install the signage in several locations along the coastline there we were literally verbally assaulted by several residents, and saw the signs being taken down practically before we left …. the lesson i took away is that locals don’t want people using the public access points and do what they can to make they less accessible… i also suspect that shoreline accessible points have probably been lobbied against which leaves us with these hard to access points….


    1. This was the impression I had as well Heidi, as I looked up from the shoreline back at the multi-million dollar properties — most of which had stairs that owners could take from their backyards down to the shore.


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