Letters – Re: Point/Counterpoint on Broadway Bike Lanes
February 1, 2018
Re: Point/Counterpoint on Broadway Bike Lanes
Mr. Convissor’s article in favor of bike lanes on the Broadway-Route 9 corridor requires clarification and revision. We can start in the second paragraph when he states that pedestrians currently get injured crossing Route 9 at the rate of 4 persons/year. What he does not state is with his proposal pedestrians will have the added burden of not only have to cross two lanes of Broadway vehicular traffic, but also an additional two lanes of bike traffic going both ways on the north bound side of the road (Is that legal?). And they will no longer have the protection of being able to stand between parked cars in order to start the process of crossing the street. They will have to dash across two adjacent bike lanes with bikes going in opposing directions and then cross two lanes of opposing vehicular traffic. Additionally, car traffic will swerve to turn onto the bike lanes as an additional passing lane to go around cars stopped wishing to make a turn. Pedestrians, and those bike riders travelling sound bound on the north bound side of the road, will be hit. More injuries to pedestrians are forecast. And heaven help you if you are elderly or handicapped. All of this, by the way, is recognized by the Federal High Way Administration under its Location on the Street Cross-Section (19.4) and Bicycle Course Practices to Be Avoided (19.5) sites. The FHWA says the two way bike lanes “create hazardous conditions” and are “contraindicated on two way streets”, respectively. Further, bike lanes are required to be 5 foot wide each. That is 10 feet for the two way proposed. Parking spaces are about 7 feet wide. Thus, the car/truck traffic lanes will have to be pushed westward by about 3 feet and made more narrow by about one and one half feet per lane. That is a 15% reduction in car/truck lane width. Cars/trucks driving north will be on more narrow lanes with cars/trucks coming at them to the left and bicycles coming at them to the right. This dangerous design, which runs counter to the FHWA, should end the discussion right now.
The only “clamoring” going on for this bike lane is by the author, himself, and is surely not the residents, nor the merchants, nor the employees who all recognize the devastation it would bring to the businesses when all those parking spaces are removed. With regards to the survey; what survey? Who paid for it? Who wrote it, conducted it and how was it conducted? Is it statistically valid? Many people, including myself, were never afforded the opportunity to participate in this closed survey. Also Mr. Convissor complains about the terrain of Tarrytown and how hilly it is and how he is “hampered by hills” and going “up steep narrow streets. This is not Long Island.
Later in his article he writes of “bringing over some of the 5,000 people who rides bikes up Route 9W on nice Sundays”. Is that 5,000 per day, week, month or year? Let’s also point out that Route 9W is a flat, wide road with broad shoulders, modest car traffic, no parking on it, dedicated left hand turn lanes and it is sparsely populated with buildings which are only on the southbound side and those are all set back and off road. There are no buildings on the northbound side since 9W enjoys a parallel Palisades Interstate Parkway to absorb all the heavy traffic. It is illegitimate to compare 9W and Broadway.
On parking, Mr. Convissor states that only 37 parking spaces will be lost from the northbound side of Broadway in order to put in his two way bike path. There are a total of 119 parking spaces on Broadway from Patriots Park to Franklin Streets. There are 56 spaces on the side Mr. Convissor states has 37. Eliminating those 56 spaces reduces parking by a whopping 47%; almost half. Mr. Convissor also neglects to say where all the bike riders he envisions coming to Tarrytown are going to park their bikes! On our already congested sidewalks? Also, how is the traffic flow going to occur at bottle neck areas such as Franklin Street when the northbound passing lane will now be eliminated?
Further, the decrease of parking meter and parking ticket revenue will be a significant loss to the bottom line of Tarrytown and will have to be made up, not by the bike riders, but by every home and building owner in Tarrytown through increased property taxes. The loss of business and the businesses themselves will bring devastation to the good “Tarrytown vibe” which the village enjoys. This in turn will lead to decreased property values along Broadway and Main Street with the resultant filings of tax certioraris against the village and the school district. When something like this is ever proposed, make no mistake, someone is going to pay and that someone will be all the property owners of Tarrytown, of which Mr. Convissor is not one.
As the owner of a business, I wish to bring up several points Mr. Convissor conveniently deems either inconvenient or ignores. Many of my patients are elderly and/or handicapped. For them the bike path will be a huge impediment to their mobility as they will have to walk further to cross what will now be a more dangerous street. Fewer parking spaces will mean more congestion in the inner village and ultimately less visits to all the businesses, not only on Broadway but also on Main Street. The competition for parking, which is already fierce, will become more so and people will quickly learn to give up on visiting Tarrytown. Businesses in Tarrytown have a difficult time as it is with the current lack of parking and thus the lack of access to their establishments. There are many store fronts that are currently sitting empty that testify to this. If this bike path becomes reality, there will be more.
During these winter months of cold weather, short days, salted roads and icy precipitation there has been virtually no bike traffic on Broadway. Weather and darkness have a profound effect on bike usage. It goes down or it is eliminated when it is bad and/or dark. Westchester gets 48 inches of rain per year (US average is 39). We get on average 37 inches of snow (US average is 26). The number of days of precipitation is 82 or 22% of the days of the year. So almost one in five days it is either raining or snowing (no biking). You can also calculate in more days after a snow or ice storm when it is unsafe to bike. Day light savings time decreases the rideable times to bike during the day for about six months of the year. Cold winter weather, five to six months, further eliminates biking. There are about 200 sunny days per year in Westchester which is about 55% of the year; but many of those days are in the winter months. So the question has to be asked: How many days are realistically available to bike ride during daylight hours? The answer is but a few.
The Route 9 Bike Path proposal is dangerous to all; pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles and negatively disruptive to the economic wellbeing of Tarrytown.