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At forum, cycling enthusiasts pitch ideas for making town more bike-friendly

Cyclists and other community members gave town officials suggestions on how to make Southold more bike friendly at a lively discussion hosted Nov. 10 by the Town Board and Transportation Commission.

Guiding the discussion were commission co-chairs Randy Wade and Charles Gueli, Councilwoman Sarah Nappa and co-coordinator Charlie Peck.

“This came about because there’s been a couple of pedal share companies that have come to the town over the past few years to try to get a pedal share program … (and) that kind of sparked a bigger discussion about biking on the North Fork,” Ms. Nappa said. 

Pedal Share made a presentation at the Town Board’s Nov. 16 work session.

The first topic for discussion was identifying obstacles to safe biking. Among the safety issues raised by participants were heavy traffic, vehicle speeding, limited access to bikes and lack of bike repair facilities.

Education and promotion for cycling were also talked about. Attendees suggested bike education in schools, designating a ‘bike to work’ day to encourage more cyclists to ride, as well as placing educational handouts for bikers and drivers in strategic retail areas like restaurants and bars.

“You have here this wonderful opportunity, this wonderful landscape and actually a pretty good infrastructure for both cars, bikes and pedestrians, but it needs to be modified some to make it more pedestrian and biker friendly,” Mr. Peck said. “It needs to be practical and affordable so that’s why we’re here tonight, to find ways to make it easier for people to get around, to make it more attractive for people to get on their bicycles,” he said.

The meeting, held at the Southold Town Recreation Center, also featured three break-out tables set up with maps of specific hamlet areas. One table covered Orient and East Marion, another was focused on Greenport and the third included Southold and Cutchogue. 

Participants were encouraged to mark the maps with the routes they currently ride and locations where they usually encounter problems when riding, as well as where they’d like biking routes and possible locations for bike racks or bike stations.

“The turnout was great and the level of interest by the participants was terrific and they came up with dozens of good ideas. All we have to do is organize them a little better and try and present them to see what can be done by the Town Board,” Mr. Gueli said.

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