As a cyclist who’s lived on the East End since 1974, I read with interest your front-page article about Westhampton Beach’s attempt to prohibit bicycles on Main Street [“Westhampton Beach Village Mulls Biking Restrictions On Main Street,” 27east.com, July 21]. There is no perfect solution and, unfortunately, the problem is exacerbated by the huge amount of development that’s occurred over the past 46 years.
Coincidentally, in that same issue was a letter sarcastically thanking the “Halt the Highway” group that stopped the extension of the Sunrise Highway to Amagansett in the 1970s, which is responsible, in large part, for the “trade parade,” as it’s become known.
We certainly can’t turn back the clock. When we first moved here, we joked that they “rolled up the sidewalks” after Labor Day. Now, we’ve joined the “big time,” with Starbucks, McDonald’s, a water park and numerous big-box stores along Route 58 in Riverhead.
Yes, roads do bring cars, but the U.S. population has doubled in my lifetime. Back in the “stone age,” when I learned to drive, most homes had one family car. Now it’s not uncommon to have four or more cars in a home. That’s a huge increase in the number of cars on the road!
One of my favorite cycling jerseys is black and gold with a diamond-shaped road sign on the back saying what I offer as one possible solution: “Share the Road!” To that I might add: Be considerate of others. It’s not all about you!
A few rants and observations:
As your article stated, bicycles are vehicles and must ride with traffic. Pedestrians should walk against traffic.
None of us is blameless. I’ve seen more than a few reckless cyclists who, in addition to “blowing off” traffic signs or signals, often don’t wear helmets, use horns or bells, or don’t indicate when they’re passing. Then there are drivers who consider speed limits, stop signs and lights, and no-passing zones mere suggestions. Any collision between a car and a cyclist can be fatal for the cyclist.
Walking, jogging or cycling while wearing earbuds is generally unsafe.
I applaud the repaving of Dune Road, one of our best cycling venues, but couldn’t the new asphalt have been made slightly wider to provide real bike lanes in both directions?
None of us has a crystal ball, so we can’t always anticipate paradigm shifts like 9/11 and wireless technology, which resulted in folks moving to the East End and working from home. More recently, COVID-19 caused more of the same, as well as putting more walkers, joggers and cyclists out there.
So, in the end, given where we are and the frequent, not-so-successful attempts to mitigate such a big problem, maybe my jersey does offer a bit of sound advice: Share the road!
John N. Mitchell
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