Biking has been backpedaling in this neck of New York for decades. But prospects for safer bikeways in and around Rye are opening up every day.
By Jon Craig
Biking has been backpedaling in this neck of New York for decades. But prospects for safer bikeways in and around Rye are opening up every day. May is National Bike Month and there’s been plenty to celebrate locally:
County Executive Robert P. Astorino was joined April 30 by three previous county executives to announce completion of the last major leg of the county’s combined North and South County Trailways, a 36-mile bike and foot path running from the Bronx to the northern Westchester County line. The trailway, along the former Putnam Division of the New York Central Rail Road, originated more than three decades ago during Alfred DelBello’s administration. Various sections of the trails were built while Astorino, Andrew O’Rourke, and Andrew Spano were county executives.
Rye residents will add “sharrows” to their vocabulary and Forest Avenue as the City completes a bike-friendly paving project between Cornell Place and Green Avenue. Sharrows are “shared route arrows” painted on the street. About a quarter-mile of Forest Avenue will be paved and painted with white lines designating bikeways near the shoulder, following a new trend nationwide. City Council members accepted a $20,000 grant from the YMCA to complete the project by the end of August.
Preliminary design plans are being drafted for a 2.65-mile bike/pedestrian trail from the Rye train station to Playland.
And one of Westchester’s longest-running recreational programs – Bicycle Sundays – resumes in June on a 7.5-mile stretch of the Bronx River Parkway. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the parkway is closed to cars for use by bikes, joggers, walkers, and strollers. The course runs from the Westchester County Center in White Plains south to Scarsdale Road in Yonkers. The Parkway will be closed to motorists on June 3, 10, 17, and 24 as well as on September 9, 16, 23, and 30. Parking at the County Center lot is $5. Visit Westchestergov.com/parks for more information.
“Good things can indeed sometimes take a long time,” Astorino said at a recent press conference. “It takes vision, it takes passion, and it takes hard work.”
The newly completed Yonkers segment of the County bike/pedestrian trail is a ten-foot wide, two-mile long asphalt pathway that extends from Redmond Park to Tuckahoe Road. It is the final major section of the 14-mile South County Trailway, which stretches from Greenburgh/Mouth Pleasant border in Eastview from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. South County Trailway creates an almost seamless connection to the 22-mile North County Trailway, which runs from Mount Pleasant to the border of Putnam in Mahopac. These trailways connect to the nine-mile Putnam County Trailway, which extends to Brewster to provide a total 45-mile span for bicyclists, walkers, and runners.
In 2006, Westchester County applied for a federal grant through the state Department of Transportation to build a bike path from Rye train station to Playland. The County was awarded 80% funding for the $2 million project, and has promised to cover any remaining costs.
The Tri-State Transportation Council, an advocacy group, estimates the new Rye bike path might be used by 850,000 annual Playland visitors. Starting at the northbound side of the train station, the route goes down to 2nd Street, then right onto Purdy Avenue continuing straight onto Theodore Fremd. A major improvement in the existing trailway system will be construction of a path parallel to Playland Parkway that runs from Old Post Road to Boston Post Road. This will be built on County right-of-way land. In addition, they will be widening and re-grading the Parkway path from North Street to Playland to eight feet.
Westchester County plans a separate bike/pedestrian bridge over Blind Brook, as well as benches, sharrows on Theodore Fremd, plantings, and informational signs. More details can be found online at: http://planning.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/playlandpkwypathwaypres.pdf.
On Memorial Day, Bike & Roll New York City is offering free one-hour bike rides to anyone visiting Governors Island between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The group has more than 2,000 bikes at nine locations around the city. There is free ferry service from the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6. For mroe details, go to www.BikeNewYorkCity.com