Written by David Wilson
At the second annual Westchester Bike Summit, cyclists joined planners and public officials in early May to discuss ways to create more bike-friendly communities in Westchester.
The event, held in partnership with the town of Greenburgh, highlighted ways communities here are moving forward on many fronts and held promise for exciting developments in the near future.
The summit was convened by the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam, an affiliate of the East Coast Greenway. BWA President David Wilson noted progress made since the first summit in 2009. A year later, local initiatives have sprung up in Rye, Bedford, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Tarrytown, and Yonkers. Wilson called on the city of Yonkers and Westchester County to jumpstart the piece of the ECG in southern Westchester what would like the Bronx River Trailway to a trail in the Bronx.
The county and Yonkers have had a $1.2 million grant since 2002, but have yet to move forward on the project because they have yet to allocated a $260,000 match to move the project forward.
We have been lobbying for the past year to get the project moving. Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick said he was now getting involved in the issue and would try to get it moving.
State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins provided an update on her efforts on our behalf in Albany on a bill that would require motorist to pass cyclists at a safe distance. She proposed the bill after BWA member Merrill Cassell was sideswiped by a bus and killed in November. Her bill, which was passed out of the Transportation Committee, would require a three-foot buffer, similar to laws in 15 states. But Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman David Gantt opposes the three-foot requirement. He wants a bill that calls for passing at a safe distance in a law similar to statutes in eight states, including Oregon, one of the nation’s most bike-friendly states. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale has now proposed such a bill, and we are hoping to get a common bill in both houses. There’s still time, as the session typically ends in late June.
The summit was supported by a grant from the Westchester Community Foundation and the Westchester Cycle Club, which sponsored a reception following the session. The bike club has also announced it will dedicate a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming Golden Apple ride, on Sept. 4 – the Sunday of Labor Day weekend – to the BWA to support bike advocacy in the Lower Hudson Valley.