March - April 2007
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March - April 2007
A Letter from David Schloss
President, Rockland Bicycle Club
I just wanted to give you some advanced heads-up so you can pass some info along to your club. I've been in a series of meetings with the mayoralty and police departments representing the (Hudson Valley) river villages up the route from Piermont to Nyack (and will be meeting with more shortly).
The primary goal of our meeting was to talk about increased activity for jointly-funded bicycling programs (which is going well, but slowly) but extended into a conversation about bike safety and traffic issues.
While we both know that club-run rides in general are safer than your average bike ride, and are more likely to have members obey traffic regulations, the local towns are furious at the (mostly) non resident non-club members who pass through the area breaking all manner of laws. They're so upset that many of the towns are talking about banning cyclists on the roads. They also know that it's not the local clubs that are breaking the laws, but are asking us to help.
We've let the towns know that a lot of the responsibility for the infractions comes from the fact that as long as cyclists have been coming to the area, there has been a history of terribly poor signage regarding things like the single-file laws in the river villages, sporadically and incorrectly enforced.
So we're going to be working with the local police departments to try and help develop a two-pronged education and enforcement approach.
Beginning this spring, cyclists in the area can expect to see stepped up programs to let cyclists know the laws in the area and to enforce them. In order for this to be effective, we really need everyone who can disseminate this to do so.
There's nothing less at stake than the future assured rights to continue to use a major cycling corridor in the region.
Here are the major issues that residents bring up over and over with regard to cyclists who pass through the region, and the areas that will see the most enforcement.
Single-file riding: Piermont, South Nyack and Grandview have single-file laws that are more stringent than state motor vehicle code. The easy version is that cyclists must ride single file. Even without this rule though, NY motor vehicle code requires single file riding if riding two-abreast would impede the flow of traffic, as is clearly the case on Piermont Avenue. This is a huge issue as groups of four abreast, several deep, cyclists often proceed down the corridor.
Stop signs and stoplights: Cyclists in the region regularly run the stop signs and stop lights in the towns. Groups leaving Runcible Spoon regularly run the light at the corner of Main and Broadway. This is dangerous and illegal and it's a huge concern of the town governments.
Helmets: New York State requires helmets for all minors but Rockland requires all cyclists to wear helmets. Courtesy: Obviously, this one is not a law of any kind, but is a common-sense issue.We, and the towns, receive lots of complaints about cyclists gathered outside local establishments that fail to move when pedestrians pass through the groups. Much of the issue here is the lack of good bench-type seating in the towns, but the feedback we get is that cyclists are "rude" and won't even move for a baby carriage. I have never seen this personally but this story gets back to me a lot.
Likewise we're often confronted by stories from motorists who have just encountered a group of cyclists and were cursed at by the cyclists. Usually the motorist doesn't realize that they've just endangered the lives of the group of cyclist going by, but often the cyclists don't realize they were doing something wrong to put the motor vehicle operator in that position. Just as cyclists don't like being yelled at by passing motorists, drivers don't like to be yelled at by cyclists.
Please pass along the word to your members that small changes in behavior can go a long way to helping.We're engaged in some really interesting discussions with the local towns about implementing some massive changes to improve the cycling infrastructure, but that's all balancing on the behavior of cyclists and motorists as they interact locally.