To bicyclists’ delight, the East Hampton Village Board adopted a policy last Wednesday that outlines what a bike-friendly village would look like if the board were to move forward with a plan to introduce bike lanes.
An informal committee advocating for bike lanes within village limits presented their guidelines to the board in June, pressing the matter in light of the most recent tragedy of 14-year-old Anna Lytton’s death. Anna was struck by an SUV as she was riding her bike near the CVS on Pantigo Road on June 15.
According to committee member Paul Fiondella, the Village Board’s decision is the very first step in a long process to make East Hampton Town safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“Too many people have died,” he said on Tuesday. “We need to have a community in which people are not afraid to get on their bikes and go to the post office and they’re not afraid to walk to the village or their schools. The Village Board approached this entire issue with the idea of trying to get a problem solved for the community and want to see some progress on that.”
The guidelines, which will serve as a template, are aimed at keeping bicyclists and motorists separate and at the same time create bike lanes that are consistent with the principles of the village and that are aesthetically acceptable.
For example, the bike policy says that bike lanes should be placed on the paved shoulder of the roads and not in the vehicle travel lanes, and where bike lanes are not feasible on the roads, the village should consider expanding paved shoulders to a minimum of 3 feet. Mr. Fiondella said that his group doesn’t expect every road in town to have a bike lane, but that the goal is to create a north-south-east-west route that connects beaches, principal institutions, namely schools and libraries, and downtown centers.
The group is starting with East Hampton Village because it is busiest part of town and has the most problems in terms of traffic, Mr. Fiondella said. He said he was going to make a presentation at this week’s East Hampton School Board meeting to broach the subject of safer routes to and from school. The group plans on visiting other East Hampton schools and the Town Board for a more unified effort, Mr. Fiondella said.
Ideally, after the policy is adopted across the board, the village and town boards would commission an engineering and design study for bike lanes, which would give both municipalities a good idea of where best the bike lanes could go and what measures should be taken to improve safety, Mr. Fiondella said.
Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said on Monday that the guidelines will be used going forward as the village explores road repaving or reconstruction. He said, however, he doesn’t see road widening in the near future.
“Although bona fide bike lanes would be a panacea for the cycling community, I am not certain the Board of Trustees is at that point in time to widen these locations to offer defined bike lanes,” he said. “To do so, in my opinion would detract from the overall beauty and bucolic ambiance that candidly, makes our village America’s most beautiful.”
The Village Board will hold a public hearing on August 16 on a proposed code change that would make it a little tougher for summer residents to obtain a beach parking sticker. According to Mayor Rickenbach, the village has had a challenging time this summer with people who claim to have family in the village when they do not. He said the village has become a “victim of hype,” especially through social networking sites. The proposal would allow village property owners’ relatives to get resident beach passes so long as they live at the property and are related by blood or marriage.