12/19/13 8:00am
12/19/2013 8:00 AM
BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | A view from Fishers Island.

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | A view from Fishers Island.

The Southold Town Board hasn’t exactly warmed up to the idea of spending $500,000 to extend the Fishers Island bike path, but it is willing to pay to study the matter.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an $8,900 feasibility study for the project.

The move comes just two weeks after board members Louisa Evans and Chris Talbot sparred over spending money on the Fishers Island project during the Dec. 5 work session.

Fishers Island residents have been pushing for the town to extend the bike path along the public road to the downtown area, but the town has been reluctant to approve the project due to the half-million-dollar price tag, Supervisor Scott Russell said. According to 2010 census data, 236 year-round residents lived there in 2010.

During a discussion earlier this month, town engineer Jamie Richter advised widening the road and extending the bike path on the shoulder as a less expensive alternative.

The idea didn’t sit well with Ms. Evans, who voiced concern that the plan would do little to protect bicyclists. Instead, she requested that the town at least pay for a survey of the roadway so the project could move forward.

Mr. Talbot said the money would be better spent widening roadways in New Suffolk, an area where residents have raised safety concerns. Some roadways in New Suffolk are very dangerous, Mr. Talbot said, with bicyclists, including children, forced to ride in the street.

“You’re willing to spend money to do that but you won’t spend it on life-saving measures in New Suffolk?” he said. “It’s recreation versus life-saving.”

Ms. Evans responded by saying that Fishers Island receives far less funding than any other hamlet in Southold.

“We spend a lot of money in Southold Town that Fishers Island sees no part of,” Ms. Evans said during the Dec. 5 work session. “The residents are asking for something that benefits them.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Russell said he was able to work with the town comptroller to find the $8,940 needed to fund an initial survey for the Fishers Island bike path extension.

Board members also agreed to get a cost estimate to survey the streets in New Suffolk, the supervisor said.

“We realize the problems here,” Mr. Russell said Tuesday. “Let’s address these two issues simultaneously.”

[email protected]

10/26/13 12:00pm
10/26/2013 12:00 PM

R1024_Bike_TG_C.jpg

They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I kinda did. At least the gear-shifting part and the keeping air in the tires part.

A few months ago, I dropped my car off at an auto repair shop, intending to use my brother’s bike — built sometime in the early 1980s — to get back home. As it turned out, the bike’s tires were flat and I found it didn’t fit in the car’s trunk, so that idea went nowhere.

Instead, I walked home from the repair shop … seven miles. That was enough walking for me. The next day, I bought a bike.

It’s a used bike, with a little switch that enables me to easily take off the front tire so the bike will fit in my car. This way, I can drive the bike to places more conducive to riding than where I live. Now that I had the bike, I figured the Tour de France couldn’t be far off — so long as I could drive there.

For the first week or so, I drove my bike to a lot of different places. Sure, I didn’t get out and actually sit on the bike and pedal, but it was there if I wanted it — or needed it.

Then one day, I decided I would bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I’ve been told has a bike lane running across it. So the bike and I went on a ride to Brooklyn, in my car. We took a few wrong turns, but eventually found the bridge (which, I suppose, isn’t that hard to find). Then we went looking for a place to park the car. I looked all over Brooklyn, reluctantly went into a parking garage that had only valet parking, backed into something, panicked and quickly exited the parking lot. I then spent time looking for a roadside parking space with no success. After a while, I just gave up and went home.

But I hadn’t given up entirely on being a biker.

On the last day before my next vacation, in September, I had to write a story on the completion of federally funded $3.2 million bike path from Calverton to Jamesport. As part of the story, I tried to call some local bike enthusiasts for comment. None of the bikers I contacted seemed too excited about this bike path, which basically consists of some widened roads and signage indicating that bikes go on the side of the road and the cars stay in the middle. Duh!

What the bikers were excited about was the bike path that runs around the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The bike enthusiasts see this as a potential major draw to the area, since there aren’t many places on Long Island, apparently, where people can ride around a nine-mile path. I had noticed a lot of people using it one Saturday, so on my next vacation, I packed the bike in the car, drove it to Calverton and tried out the EPCAL bike path.

Turns out, it’s pretty cool. Unlike riding on the road, it’s all inside the fence, so you can’t get hit by a car, unless you have really, really bad luck and get hit by one crossing the entrance road off Route 25. And, you can go as fast as you want, because it’s a relative straight path and has some long, but not steep, hills.

It’s also pretty scenic. You start at the dog park and ballfields area, then you get to ride around the back of the two fighter jets on display at the Grumman Memorial Park and then you go all the way around the Calverton Industries sand mine, which is a lot bigger than it appears from the road. Eventually the path disappears into woods and the paved part of the trail stops. That’s where I turned around and went back. My tally? EPCAL bike path: 1, Brooklyn Bridge bike path: 0.

The Town Board has applied for a grant to finish the EPCAL path so it goes completely around the EPCAL site, but that was a split vote, with three in support and two against. It remains to be seen if the town will get the grant or otherwise finish paving the path.

In the meantime, my bike and I drove to some other places, like the Country Fair, where I parked at Town Hall and rode to the fair, since it was tough finding parking.

That’s technically using the bike to avoid exercise rather than to get exercise, but it’s a start. I now figure I should be in the Tour de France in a year or so.

Tim Gannon is a longtime reporter for the Riverhead News-Review.

He can be reached at (631) 293-3200, ext. 242, or [email protected]

10/02/13 2:00pm
10/02/2013 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The new bike path along River Road in Calverton.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The new bike path along River Road in Calverton.

From the time Riverhead Town was awarded a $3.15 million grant for a biking and jogging path stretching from Calverton and Northville, it took almost four years to get the project started.

But it took only six months to actually build the path.

The state Department of Transportation finished the job this summer, according to DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters. Construction began in March of this year and, Ms. Peters said this week, was completed by Aug. 1.

The town received $3.15 million in federal stimulus funds in July 2009 for the alternative transportation path, which runs from Pier Avenue in Northville to Wading River-Manor Road in Calverton, while connecting with existing state and county bike routes.

After winning the award, the town spent about three years designing and engineering the project, according to Supervisor Sean Walter, who said all of those costs were covered by the grant.

“In September 2012, the state Department of Transportation offered to do the job, so we turned the remaining grant money over to them,” Mr. Walter said.

At that time, the town had been planning to seek bids on the project.

“I think the project is great,” said Nick Attisano, owner of Twin Forks Bicycles in downtown Riverhead. “Anything they can do to make it safer for cyclists and families to ride on the road is an improvement.”

Mr. Attisano said he thinks the path needs to be better publicized so that more people will use it.

The town’s alternative transpiration committee recently published a brochure showing the various bike paths in Riverhead.

[email protected]