Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bike Safety ReVIew

This morning I met with a local town planner, and we found ourselves talking about bike safety.  Although architecture and planning changes can increase the safety of bicyclists, it is certainly still our duty as bike riders to practice skillful riding and not wiping out.  The more cyclists we have on the rode, the more important this information becomes.

Here's a link to a fantastic, detailed bike safety site that goes beyond the basic rules of helmets and signals.

Daaaamn, you lookin' good.

 This is my fave shot I took from Portchester, NY, right outside of Costco....can you tell?

And here, from a recent ride between Valhalla and North White Plains....

Westchester Bike Summit 2010

The Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam invites you to our 2nd annual Westchester Bike Summit, on Thurs. May 6, from 3 to 7 p.m., at Greenburgh Town Hall, 177 Hillside Ave., Greenburgh. This year, we are gathering together planners, state and local government officials, cyclists, and leaders in the local bike industry to discuss ways to make our region more friendly to those who get around on two wheels.

3 p.m. Welcome from Bike Walk Alliance President David Wilson
3.15 – Kate Slevin, executive director, Tri State Transportation Campaign – She’ll talk about state and local initiatives in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, looking at how communities are coming together to improve the streetscape for cycling.
3.30 pm – State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins – She discusses the Safe Passing law she is sponsoring in Albany, which would require motorist give cyclists a three-foot buffer when passing. She sponsored the bill after Greenburgh resident Merrill Cassell was killed in November on Route 119 after being sideswiped by a Beeline bus.
3.50 pm - Tom Madden, Greenburgh planning commissioner – He’ll discuss the town of Greenburgh process of incorporating bike-friendly elements into a town’s master plan. By doing so, a town will then have a plan in place when the state or town begins a road resurfacing or reconstruction project.
4.10 pm - Steve Kahn, owner, Danny’s Cycles of Scarsdale and Mohegan Lake – Bike shops in Westchester play a crucial role in building our local cycling communities. They provide us with our bikes, and keep them in running order. They also provide jobs and tax revenues for our local economy.
4.30 pm – Sandra Fry, principal transportation planner, Connecticut Regional Council of governments – CT Transit, like many public transportation systems in America, has bike racks on urban buses to extend the reach of Connecticut’s mass transit system. We’ll learn about how Connecticut did it, and the state’s experience.
4.50 pm - Michael Oliva, Mid Atlantic trail coordinator, East Coast Greenway Alliance – Oliva will discuss the East Coast Greenway route in Westchester, and the challenges to complete the route along the Hutchinson River Parkway and from the Bronx to Bronxville.
5.10 pm – Lukas Herbert - Westchester County associate planner Herbert will discuss how town can encourage bike and pedestrian amenities in new projects. He’ll also give an update on the county trailway system.
5.30 pm – Jackson Wandres, Landscape Architect and Michael Dannemiller, Planner, RBA Group - Wandres will discuss the Complete Streets movement and show ways communities are incorporating bike/pedestrian improvements into road projects. Dannemiller will review regional Complete Streets efforts and resources available.
5.45 pm. - Planner Stephen Lopez will present a proposal for new standards that the county and local governments can use while resurfacing or reconstructing local roads to include bike-friendly features.
6 pm – Larchmont Village Trustee Richard Ward and Peter McCartt of Eastchester Environmental committee – Ward and McCartt will talk about initiatives with bike parking at transit stations and road “sharrows.”
6.15 to 7 pm – Closing comments, and reception, sponsored by Westchester Cycle Club.
The event is sponsored by a grant from the Westchester Community Foundation. Co-sponsors include the town of Greenburgh and Westchester Cycle Club. Call David Wilson at 914-217-5600 or email him at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

P-ville to Manhattan, in four hours or less.

This weekend, I went on a birthday bike ride, from Chappaqua to the East Village. A four hour ride for Italian food! The route is much easier than I imagined; nearly all of it is on flat multi-use paths, and there are only a few areas that are tricky. And I counted 130 bikes during the 2 hours I was in Westchester! I totally stopped counting the moment I hit the Bronx.

**The Route**
1. I began biking from my house(on State Road 117) to the Pleasantville beginning of the North County Trailway, which is at 9A. This was a little tricky: 117 is bumpy, windy and narrow; and there is a gi-normous hill shortly before the path. Lots of inhaled car exhaust. Yum.

Suggested improvements: sidewalks and wider shoulder along 117 in Chappaqua; marked signage and sharrows through Pleasantville indicating directions to the Bike Path.

2. I rode the North County Trailway south to Elmsford. This was calm, pleasant, peaceful, even boring. A great way to catch my breath after the hills. It ends up at a town dump, where that, and an animal shelter, block the construction of the connection between the North and South County Trailways. At that point, I made a left, and rode State Road 9A for exactly one block, turning right onto North Payne Street, a subsequent left on Hayes Street, which I followed til the entrance to the South County Trailway.

Suggested improvements: better signage on the North County Trailway: East/South/North/West Routes, with milage markers, etc. Some roadside attractions: paintings, a statue, would be unnecessary but pleasant. An Absolute MUST: finish the trailway. If that proves impossible for political reasons, then at the very least, sharrows and signage for the connection between the trails is imperative to getting more people biking for transportation, between the two.

3. South County Trailway, South, to Yonkers. Then I road down to the end of the South County Trailway. A beautiful view of the Saw Mill River Parkway is to our right; we pass a lake, a bridge, a dam. It's all very attractive. We end up on Toissant Road, where a part of the South County Trailway is blocked due to an Auto Parts Shop, which had bought the railroad right of way a long time past. To make up for it, I turned up to Tuckahoe Road(dangerous, fast cars), road up a very high hill called Rockne road for several blocks. (I actually walked my bike for a bit at this point).

Somehow we connected into Tibbetts Brook Park, and resumed riding on the South County Trailway. Only god knows how. And my dad.

Suggested Improvements: CONNECT the TRAILWAY. In lue of this, leave the off-road hill, and post sharrows and signs on the connecting sections. It is very confusing otherwise to bikers. This would do an enormous amount to increase cycling to and from New York City.

4. Road the lower part of the South County Trailway through to Van Cortland Park, a dirt trail that is a bit muddy at times, but generally supportive of bikes.

Suggested Improvements: pave the path, signage and milage.

5. Wound up on Bailey Avenue in the Bronx. We connected over to Broadway; road for several blocks, crossed the Broadway Bridge, and made our way down to the Manhattan Greenway, or Hudson River Greenway as it also goes by. Biked along this until 25th Street, when I crossed into the street system.

Suggested Improvements: SIGNAGE. How many times have I said this? A sharrowed, signed bike lane from Van Cortland Park to the Manhattan Greenway would make biking much easier. It also gets a bit dangerous at this point: lots of connections with cars. But also more exhilarating? More people in the road. The Greenway? Is gorgeous.

6. Left on 25th Street. Right on Broadway. Continuing local directions until I reached my friends apartment on 2nd Street, between 1st and Avenue A.

Suggested improvements: improved police enforcement of bike lane rules. Bike boxes at intersections, placing the bikes in front of the cars. Greater separations of lanes to prevent dooring and car connections.

7. Italian food.

Suggested Improvements: None.

P.S I took the Metro-North with my bike back; I felt like a jerk for having one on the train, as they don't really fit, and I had to keep my hand on it the whole ride. Bike storage within the trains would be a wonderful, wonderful improvement.