Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00Currently, with plans for repairing West Shore Road in place, a new question has come up — public access via a bike path/sidewalk.
One comment from a cyclist was, “I avoid it currently and never advise anyone to take a bike on that road. It’s a few extra miles (and hills!) to go around through Locust Valley but just not worth the risk of riding on a road with no shoulder where motorists are always speeding and distracted by the really wonderful view. Anyway, it seems plans have changed. They are no longer planning to include this.”
A website westshoreroadbikepath.com has been set up to see what people think of a bike path/sidewalk. People are asked to sign a petition online that will be presented to Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton at a meeting she plans to hold with the public.
The website states, “According to County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton’s website, there will not be a bike path or sidewalk constructed along Oyster Bay’s West Shore Road during the upcoming $30 million renovation project due to ‘community concern.’
“The goal of this website is to prove to our legislators that our community would, in fact, like the West Shore Road reconstruction project to include a bike path or sidewalk.”
Legislator DeRiggi Whitton said in a statement to the Enterprise Pilot, “I want to thank local cyclists for notifying the Nassau County government about their wish for more bike paths.
“First, I should note that Nassau Department of Public Works (DPW) engineers indicated to me that a bike path is not logistically possible on West Shore Road. I am working to document the reasons for that and will share the information.
“In general, it has been my pleasure to speak with many cyclists over the past few days. I wish the entire North Shore was set up for safe biking. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of bike paths to be found anywhere. I have begun the process of speaking with our state and federal government to see what can be done locally to make Long Island more cycling-friendly. Our beautiful, scenic roads were laid out long ago, when biking was not part of the picture. To modernize our roads for recreation will take a lot of effort – mainly from higher levels of government.
“In terms of West Shore Road, this renovation project has been many years in the making. Originally, plans included a large amount of funding from several sources, including the federal government. Therefore, the governments involved at that time explored adding amenities to the road, such as a bike path.
“At this point in time, however, only Nassau County is involved in the repairs and the situation has become an emergency. Because of the financial challenges the county is facing, preserving public safety is the priority for this project. A basic renovation has been ordered to ensure that that crumbling roadway is made stable for traffic. (This road is the main artery in and out of town and the main emergency / supply route in the instance of a disaster.) And, again, it is my understanding from DPW reports, that there is no way to even add a path logistically.
“The details for the planned repairs of West Shore Road have been made by engineers at the Nassau County Department of Public Works (DPW). They have spent a good deal of time creating blueprints for a new West Shore Road that will be: 1) safe for cars; 2) beneficial for the adjacent protected wetlands; and 3) much more attractive to the community.
“The plans and the budget for West Shore Road repairs are managed by Nassau DPW, as directed by the Nassau County administration, under County Executive Edward Mangano. I am glad that both DPW and the administration have been working on this. I will continue to urge all parties involved to treat these repairs as urgent.”
Ms. DeRiggi-Whitton said she can be seen on Youtube, “fighting for this issue to get the attention it deserves in the Legislature.”
One person responding to the website petition commented that, “This year Governor Cuomo signed a bill about ‘complete streets.’ The bill, S5411A-2011 enables safe access to public roads for all users by utilizing complete street design principals, improved mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, etc in street planning.
As for this editor’s opinion, it is twofold.
We have heard that the “community concerns” are a fear that adding a bike path/sidewalk will make it easier for people to come onto the property of residents along West Shore Road making them concerned about the possibility of robbery and burglary.
Well, while we can certainly understand people being afraid that their homes may be made easier to enter and rob, the fact is that the waterfront areas are allowed public access and without a bike path/sidewalk there really is no public access.
Overall, let’s start thinking of what can be done to both give public access, and protect the driving public.