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  1. #1
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Progress on Bethpage Bikeway Extension (Long Island, NY)

    I folded up my rah-rah banner on this project a long time ago, when it went from a potentially great recreational multi-use path to a dangerous, largely on-road route to nowhere. However, suddenly I see a good deal of clearing and prep work being done on the right-of-way between Bethpage State Park and Woodbury Road, so I guess it's moving ahead regardless of how local cyclists feel about it.

    Does anybody know exactly what the final plan looks like?
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

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    Google Bethpage Bike path extension. There's a DOT site with a map and other info.

    There's also been a lot of discussion on the CLIMB website about the thru-the-woods segment.

    I admit to being less cynical then you and am happy with any bicycling infrastructere being added in Nassau County, as a nose under the tent flap kind of movement. But I have not been as active as you on the advocacy side, so naturally might be less frustrated.

    Steve

  3. #3
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I agree that additions to the cycling network would be a real gift in this economy, but I think the money could have been spent much more wisely. I can't imagine that anyone who isn't already riding to the Syosset train station is going to start doing so because of this bike path. And the lack of any other destination makes this completely useless as a path for families.

    I'd have made the terminus at the Syosset-Woodbury Park, using the linear field that begins at the parklet inside Woodbury Knolls and ends at the S-W Park's turf field. This way, people could have at least traveled between parks and taken advantage of the amenities and recreational/entertainment opportunities available. In fact, once the path is completed, I intend to add a segment to my local rides website to provide directions from the end of the pavement on Woodbury Road, through the Knolls, and into the park. This way, perhaps the path has a better chance to see any users.

    The on-road portion that the DOT finally settled on uses some of the most dangerous stretches of road in the area; roads that even seasoned cyclists avoid. To send "amateurs" out there with their children under the impression that this is a safe recreational trail for families is totally irresponsible, in my opinion. I'm not quite sure why the old Rt. 135 right-of-way was abandoned, but that would have been quite a bit safer and much more scenic.

    Anyway, I will surely check it out when it's done. I only wish it would take me somewhere other than Bethpage Park.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    I agree that additions to the cycling network would be a real gift in this economy, but I think the money could have been spent much more wisely. I can't imagine that anyone who isn't already riding to the Syosset train station is going to start doing so because of this bike path. And the lack of any other destination makes this completely useless as a path for families.

    I'd have made the terminus at the Syosset-Woodbury Park, using the linear field that begins at the parklet inside Woodbury Knolls and ends at the S-W Park's turf field. This way, people could have at least traveled between parks and taken advantage of the amenities and recreational/entertainment opportunities available. In fact, once the path is completed, I intend to add a segment to my local rides website to provide directions from the end of the pavement on Woodbury Road, through the Knolls, and into the park. This way, perhaps the path has a better chance to see any users.

    The on-road portion that the DOT finally settled on uses some of the most dangerous stretches of road in the area; roads that even seasoned cyclists avoid. To send "amateurs" out there with their children under the impression that this is a safe recreational trail for families is totally irresponsible, in my opinion. I'm not quite sure why the old Rt. 135 right-of-way was abandoned, but that would have been quite a bit safer and much more scenic.

    Anyway, I will surely check it out when it's done. I only wish it would take me somewhere other than Bethpage Park.
    As it was explained during a State DOT Q&A meeting, the nature of the funding source was ISTEA, which had as a stipulation the need to connect to other modes of transportation. Thus the LIRR connection. The other option (funding driven in terms of distance) was the CSH LIRR station, which is not as good a choice given the on-road infrastructure. Thus Syosset.

    As to " uses some of the most dangerous stretches of road in the area; roads that even seasoned cyclists avoid." The current on-road route is from where the path will exit the woods at Washington Ave., then onto the LIE Service Rd., west to Sunnyside, to Froehlich, to Woodbury, to Piquets/S Woods, to either Convent or other residential streets. Other then Woodbury, none of the other streets/roads are what I would categorize as dangerous and if anything are heavily used as bike routes by many of the clubs. I speak from experience having been a member of both the LIBC and MPBC and used all those roads, and still do so, frequently. So from the perspective from someone who spends the bulk of their riding time on Nassau's streets, it's all in the eyes of the beholden. I don't find any of these roads dangerous and in fact they are preferred routes, witness how many cyclists I see riding these streets on weekends as well as weekdays. Which is why they were chosen. As note, the Rt135 ROW was not used due to NIMBY objections in communities adjacent to the ROW, according to the DOT.

    Given the requirement to get the route to a LIRR station, this was the best choice within the funding limits, in my opinion. And in general, ANY on-street bike infrastructure in Nassau County is a step in the right direction. If I was in charge of the funding, I would have spent it ALL on on-street bike lanes and skipped the BP Parkway ROW route altogether.

    Steve B.
    Last edited by Steve B.; 04-23-12 at 09:18 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    My main areas of concern, from what I see right now, are the two points at which the path ends on Woodbury Road. One is at the corner of Sunnyside Blvd; the other at the corner of Manetto Hill Road. Unless they plan to build some sort of "holding area" at these corners, you're bound to see cyclists pedaling right into the blind right turn lanes of both busy roads, especially if several inexperienced bicyclists reach this point at once.

    Next, aside from Woodbury Road itself, which is a speedway at most times of the day, you've got Piquets Lane and all the cars pulling out of the On Parade Diner, not to mention Gutterman's Funeral Home at certain times. Plus, this road is loaded with crazy teenage drivers flying to Syosset High School in the morning. I ride this stretch heading north at 4pm almost every day and it is nerve-wracking, even for someone who has cycled this area for almost 45 years.

    I suppose I overshot when I described "seasoned cyclists" as avoiding these roads, but that's because I consider myself one of them. Certainly, a cycling group of 30-40 members has a larger, more visible presence than an individual or a family of four when riding any road, so I'm not sure it's fair to say that because the LIBC or MPBC uses these routes, they are safe for the average casual rider or for a family with small children. Riding on the road requires many skills that have become instinctive for you and me, but are foreign to many people who haven't been on a bike in a while. These are the people this route is designed to attract.

    Having been "in" on this project from Day One, including walks through the route with the original DOT engineers, I also understand why the path had to go to the Syosset train station. But that still doesn't make it "right" to me. We all knew that this wasn't going to increase bicycle commutership to the train station, but we supported the idea because it was going to make use of abandoned stretches of land that were becoming strewn with litter and household junk, and it was going to be a nice, scenic ride past duck ponds and old farm houses. In the end, we figured, it would, at least, provide a place for Mom and Dad to take the kids out for some fresh air and exercise. Once all those plans were scrapped, they might as well have just painted some lines on the streets and called it a bike route, as you said, Steve.

    Bottom line: I will likely use this route myself, as there aren't many other local options for a nice, easy ride with my wife. It may also work out for newbies and Sunday riders, but I anticipate some significant problems down the line, and I really hope that no one gets seriously hurt.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

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    Doesn't sound like such a bad thing. There are already ample routes through the area for seasoned cyclists, who generally don't mix well with family multi-use paths anyhow. It'd be another thing if it was providing a route where you otherwise couldn't get around by bike, like the Jones Beach path or some parts of the Belt Parkway path provide.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>>>There are already ample routes through the area for seasoned cyclists<<<<

    Yeah, that's just my point. Anybody who is going to commute to the Syosset RR station is already doing so and has probably found a better route than this. By extending a path that is already known as a family-friendly bicycling path, they're inviting UNseasoned bicyclists to stay on the path under the assumption that all of it is like the sections along the Massapequa Preserve. I think this is a recipe for trouble.
    Papa Tom

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    The rub is if you don't build the on-street infrastructure, you simply keep the cyclists - of all skill levels, off the streets and isolated onto path's in the woods, that essentially take you no where. That's not the goal and in Nassau there is simply not enough right-of-way's to make that choice viable. You have to go on-street.

    So while I'm happy they are extending the bike path to Washington, it's really a path to no where. Of course there's no right-of-way to take it somewhere, unless they had opted to extend to Stillwell Preserve or Cold Spring using the existing Parkway ROW. That was a HUGE expense as it required major grading work in the hills north of the LIE, but in any case, what they end up with is an 11 mile total one-way off-road paved path, from Merrick Road 7.5 miles to BP state park, and now an add'l 3.5 miles to Washington. I suspect, given the typical non-seasoned rider might well find that 22 mile ride just enough in terms of time and distance, as well most families will not be doing 22 mile round trip rides, but will instead be picking it up somewhere along the way and using what exists.

    As to the on-street marked bike lanes ?, yes there are troublesome intersections. There are ALWAYS troublesome intersections when marked bike lanes are on-street. Hopefully the planners will design the intersections to allow cyclists of all skill levels to navigate thru the intersection with ease and while not getting run down by a motorist. As well and hopefully, those on-street bike lanes will attract more and more cyclists and as result, motorists will become more accustomed sharing the road. I really hope the half mile of Woodbury Rd is on street and would love to see them simply shutdown a lane to put in a bike lane. It's certainly a section of road that could use some traffic calming technology and possibly a bike lane would help. I do know that when you have a 4 lane road with few intersections, motorists tend to greatly exceed the speed limit, then when you make it one lane each direction, you get less speeding and fewer accidents. So who knows what they will do here. Note that there already is a marked on-street lane along S Woods from Jerusalem to Syosset-Woodbury, put in last year when they re-paved. Poor signage indicating it's a bike lane, but possibly that's being added.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>>Note that there already is a marked on-street lane along S Woods from Jerusalem (I think you meant Jericho) to Syosset-Woodbury<<<<

    Yes. I use it every day and I do not think the average driver understands that it's a bike lane. Plus, for an inexperienced rider, the crossover on the southbound lane just north of Jericho, where the bike lane swaps position with the right hand turn lane, is a tragedy waiting to happen.

    I don't want to be totally negative about this, because it may turn out to be a great catalyst for something we haven't even thought of yet. Years ago, when they installed the wheelchair ramps at each corner in Midtown Manhattan, use of the sidewalks by disabled people didn't increase all that much, but the people who wheeled those huge clothing racks through the garment district were ecstatic. This may not actually encourage a single person to commute to work by bicycle - and it might not attract a single family to recreational biking, but it may open up a whole new public mindset about bicycling as a viable form of transportation. Then, perhaps, no more Jackson Avenues will be redesigned without any consideration for cyclists.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    >>>>Note that there already is a marked on-street lane along S Woods from Jerusalem (I think you meant Jericho) to Syosset-Woodbury<<<<

    Yes. I use it every day and I do not think the average driver understands that it's a bike lane. Plus, for an inexperienced rider, the crossover on the southbound lane just north of Jericho, where the bike lane swaps position with the right hand turn lane, is a tragedy waiting to happen.

    I don't want to be totally negative about this, because it may turn out to be a great catalyst for something we haven't even thought of yet. Years ago, when they installed the wheelchair ramps at each corner in Midtown Manhattan, use of the sidewalks by disabled people didn't increase all that much, but the people who wheeled those huge clothing racks through the garment district were ecstatic. This may not actually encourage a single person to commute to work by bicycle - and it might not attract a single family to recreational biking, but it may open up a whole new public mindset about bicycling as a viable form of transportation. Then, perhaps, no more Jackson Avenues will be redesigned without any consideration for cyclists.
    Agreed. And yes, I meant Jericho. FWIW, the lane merge on the southbound side of S Woods is a common lane marking technique that I have seen elsewhere, NYC included. There's no real choice in how to do it and as long as the paint markings are maintained, as well as obvious signage (currently non-existent) that motorists making a right turn must yield to cyclists, then it works OK.

    Bottom line though is that there are aspects to the whole project that makes me recall the line about how a camel is a horse designed by a committee. And a state committee at that !. But we got a camel, where as we had zip prior.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>But we got a camel...<<<'

    Yes, I agree...we got humped

    See you all out on the extension. Let's make the most of it!
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

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