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Old 04-08-09, 10:34 AM   #1
alanfleisig
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Westchester Bicycle Summit

(for original post complete with links, please visit: http://alanfleisig.wordpress.com/200...ycling-summit/)

Yesterday, David Wilson, President of the Westchester (New York) Cycle Club, and a former political correspondent for Westchester’s Journal News, put together an extraordinary program of cycling and pedestrian advocacy, The Westcheter Bicycling Summit, at the Westchester County Civic Center in White Plains.

Mr. Wilson brought together an impressive array of political leaders, cycling advocates, city and transportation planners, researchers and consultants, and cyclists and other interested citizens from across Westchester County. He also announced the formation of a new advocacy group for cyclists and pedestrians in this classically suburban community, The Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance, which will hold its first organizing meeting at 7:00 pm on Monday, May 11, at the Bronxville Library.

Attendees included The Honorable Nita Lowey, congresswoman from New York’s 18th Congressional District; Westchester County Executive Andy Spano; Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz; President of the League of American Bicyclists, Mr. Andy Clarke; Michael Oliva, Mid-Atlantic Trail Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway; Jackson Wandres, representing the RBA Group, planners and engineers who have consulted with the City of New York and other municipalities on Safe Routes to School and other alternative transportation projects; Westchester County Planner Lukas Herbert; Julie Bond of the Center for Urban Transportation Research; as well as local representatives of the MTA and New York State Department of Transportation.

The overall message of the day was clear. The writing is on the wall, and the time is right, to rethink how we plan and build transportation infrastructure. Traditional suburbs, like many of the communities in Westchester County, have long been remiss by planning most of their infrastructure with the automobile the only form of transportation taken into consideration. Shockingly, families move to Westchester for the peace and quiet, only to realize, in many communities, that they can’t safely allow their children outdoors to play, or even walk to school, because of the speed and volume of car traffic in their neighborhoods, and the absence of pedestrian and cycling-friendly improvements.

Despite her brave admission that she herself is afraid to ride a bike outdoors, Congresswoman Lowey gave the meeting her sense that the Democratic Congress, and the administration of President Barack Obama, would both look favorably on “green” infrastructure projects, and that she intended to see to it that both stimulus funds and regular appropriations would be made available throughout her district for cyclist and pedestrian friendly improvements such as bike paths, bike routes and new sidewalk construction. County Executive Andy Spano pledged that he would see to it that Bee-Line buses would install and permit use of bike racks, and that he believed that it was both likely and feasible that many of the projects now planned or underway, like the scheduled improvements to the Bronx River Greenway Corridor, would in fact go forward. Associate County Planner Lukas Herbert described significant near-term plans for major improvements to bike paths and bike routes throughout the County, and some of the complexities, successes and frustrations of getting those projects funded and built.

Andy Clarke, of the League of American Bicyclists, gave a fascinating presentation on their Bike Friendly Communities program (a version available here). Among other interesting facts, he noted that 85% of automobile trips nationwide are for recreational purposes, rebutting once and for all the tired common wisdom that automobile-only roadway improvements are “serious,” while projects that include bike and pedestrian friendly elements are somehow frivolous.

One point all interested parties agreed on: We will get the infrastructure we ask for, only if we ask for it. If we want green, walkable and bikeable communities in Westchester County, we as citizens have to step up to the plate and demand them. After some initial hemming and hawing, County Executive Spano confessed that, yes, the squeeky wheel gets the grease, and only citizen interest and participation will motivate legislators - at the municipal, county, state and federal levels - to deliver the funds necessary to build the kinds of bike and pedestrian friendly transportation infrastructure we want and deserve in our Westchester cities and towns.
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Old 04-11-09, 01:27 PM   #2
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While you're here, check out:

The Climate Ride: NYC-Washington, DC, September 26-30, 2009.

http://www.climateride.org/
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Old 04-11-09, 01:58 PM   #3
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Despite her brave admission that she herself is afraid to ride a bike outdoors, Congresswoman Lowey gave the meeting her sense that the Democratic Congress, and the administration of President Barack Obama, would both look favorably on “green” infrastructure projects, and that she intended to see to it that both stimulus funds and regular appropriations would be made available throughout her district for cyclist and pedestrian friendly improvements such as bike paths, bike routes and new sidewalk construction.
I doubt that she'll ever get out of her limo. While I'm not anti-facilities, I find the facilities first focus depressing.

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Old 04-11-09, 06:53 PM   #4
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I doubt that she'll ever get out of her limo. While I'm not anti-facilities, I find the facilities first focus depressing.

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I think there's a fear factor -- especially in more densely populated communities like here in the New York City area -- that keeps women and families from more actively participating in cycling, walking, and other alternative transportation modes, for both recreation and commuting. The notion that it is "dangerous" to commute by bike (or alternatively, that you have to drive your kids to play dates, because it is "dangerous" for them to just ride their bikes there), is a huge barrier for suburban familiest to get over. Certainly, suburban New York, suburban Atlanta, and many other suburbs, are, as their infrastructure is currently configured, more dangerous than they need to be for walkers and cyclists, particularly for children and young teens. If facilities -- infrastructure design -- helps take some of the danger, and some of the fear, away, that can only lead to increased cycling and walking.

Then we can teach them to ride down 9th Avenue at rush hour.
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Old 04-11-09, 10:51 PM   #5
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more segregated path nonsense, why is everyone so afraid to take on motorist reeducation and development of integrated bike infrastructure?

yeah, all the motorists are baby killers; be afraid, be very afraid!

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Old 04-12-09, 09:33 AM   #6
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If facilities -- infrastructure design -- helps take some of the danger, and some of the fear, away, that can only lead to increased cycling and walking.

Then we can teach them to ride down 9th Avenue at rush hour.
I'm sorry, I thought that this was about Westchester County. The 9th Avenue reference sounds like Manhattan. They are two different places. I live near Boston now, but I grew up in Mamaroneck, and in my teen and college years I biked all around the south Westchester County area. I have family in Mamaroneck and New Rochelle, so I go there quite frequently and understand the local conditions.

We have many of the same issues about fear in the Boston area. I have had discussions with people who express the same fears. I'm curious, at what point would Congresswoman Lowey start riding a bike? When the most scary roads have facilities? When all major roads have facilities? When there is a bike path to her doorstep? I'm afraid that what many of the fearful want is that path to their doorstep. I think that focusing on infrastructure first isn't going to do a lot for transportation ridership. The fact is that Westchester is not Manhattan. There are lots of opportunities for Congresswoman Lowey to run an errand or two on perfectly safe streets in Westchester. Maybe she'll get over her fear.

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Old 04-12-09, 02:20 PM   #7
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I agree. I grew up in Mt. Vernon and I used to ride up to Kensico Dam in White Plains and out to Glen Island and Rye Playland as young as 10 or 11 years-old. These were 10+ mile each-way rides and my friends and I would spend a whole summer day doing these rides from before noon till dusk, 9 or 10 pm.

People have become really sheltered and fearful.


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