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Ogdensburg Bridge Bicycle Ban

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Ogdensburg Bridge Bicycle Ban

Old 08-10-10, 05:59 PM
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Ogdensburg Bridge Bicycle Ban

B&B Owner Upset By OBPABike Ban

When Brian J. and Kathleen R. Wade saw a guest off last week at the White Gate Inn, their bed-and-breakfast on Caroline Street, they had no idea he'd call them just a short while later - to ask for a ride to Canada.

He was on a bicycle, trying to cross the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge on a two-wheel trip from New York City to Vancouver, British Columbia. But the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority does not allow bicycles or pedestrians to cross, so Mr. Wade had to pick the man up, put his bicycle in his car and drive him over.

"I think it does discourage tourism," said Mrs. Wade, whose fledgling business depends on it.

She is not alone in questioning the OBPA policy. Several bicycling enthusiasts and St. Lawrence County tourism boosters have contacted the OBPA to lift the ban, but have been rebuffed by officials who say that allowing bikes would raise safety and liability issues.


Part of the riders' frustration with the policy stems from confusion about it. The OBPA banned bicycles and pedestrians in 1990; previously, cyclists had been able to walk their bicycles over on the sidewalk. But several riders said the policy was not enforced until 2008. Cyclists said they were unhappy with that, but could live with it because the OBPA offered to shuttle riders over in authority vehicles.

In 2009, Wade A. Davis, the authority's executive director, ended that policy, and with it any chance for bicycles to traverse the bridge. He cited liability concerns and fears that the Canada Border Services Agency would impound OBPA vehicles if cyclists that they transported had contraband or were trying to enter the country illegally.

"I think it's discouraged bicycle tourism in this area, especially Canadians coming south," said William Joyce, president of the Canton Bicycle Club. "A number of Canadians have contacted us about the possibility of crossing, and they would have obviously come through if they could. We've had to tell them that the regulations have changed."

Last year, Mr. Joyce met with Mr. Davis to ask him to open the bridge to cyclists - or at least continue to offer the transportation service. Mr. Davis declined.

"We are not a public transportation operator," Mr. Davis said.

Toby Irven, a former bicycle club president, said Canadian bikers have had to reroute to the Thousand Islands Bridge at Collins Landing or the Seaway International Bridge in Massena, avoiding the Ogdensburg area and depriving it of tourism dollars.

"It's been a major inconvenience," Mr. Irven said. "There are a lot of cyclists who are upset about this."

Bicycle club members aren't the only ones leaning on OBPA officials to change the policy.

"I've encouraged (Mr. Davis) to be more lenient with the policy," said Patricia L. McKeown, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. "So far, the Bridge and Port Authority has been pretty firm for their own reasons."

"There are ways for cyclists to cross over, but they're not very convenient for the cyclists," she said.

At the Thousand Islands span, cyclists can cross the bridge if they get off the bike and walk it over. At the Massena span, cyclists can ride all the way over, operations manager Wade N. Dorland said.

"There was a guy biking as I was driving across to work today," Mr. Dorland said.

And while state Department of Transportation spokesman Michael R. Flick said there are no guidelines that would suggest bicycles should be barred from bridge spans, Mr. Davis remains steadfast.

"We have no intention of allowing it," Mr. Davis said. "It's not safe."

The bicycle issue might become moot - or the cause for a major OBPA headache - when repairs on the main span of the bridge are completed in 2011. The project will remove the sidewalks on a large portion of the bridge, expanding the road from 26 feet to 30 feet.

But cycling enthusiasts, like the Canton Bicycle Club, are pushing hard for federal legislation that would require federally funded roads to provide safe access to bicycles. It has been an uphill battle, and the legislation has been peddled for several years without success.

"If this legislation passed, we probably would have a valid case to go back and say the bridge needs to conform with this," Mr. Joyce said. "But right now, we don't have anything we could use."
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Old 08-10-10, 06:43 PM
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What is the speed limit on this bridge as well as the road leading up to the bridge? How wide is the bridge as well as the road leading up to this bridge? Is there someone over him that they can appeal to? Is this a department ban or is he "exercising" personal discretion? Does anyone have any stats on car/bike crashes bike/car crashes car/pedestrian crashes or bike/pedestrian crashes?
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