By Barrett Seaman —
A drinks and hors d’oeuvres reception at a Sleepy Hollow restaurant early in November drew a posse of local elected officials, suggesting that the Route 9 bike lane proposal still has political support.
It’s been five years since the launch of a campaign to create a seamless, autonomous lane on Broadway devoted to cyclists and pedestrians — stretching from the northern end of Sleepy Hollow down through Hastings-on-Hudson.
With generous grants from the state in conjunction with the completion of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Route 9 Active Transportation Project ordered up a feasibility study and invited the public to weigh in at several open house presentations. The response has been generally positive, albeit with a few pockets of resistance. In the villages of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, where Broadway is chronically backed up and local merchants complain of a parking shortage, trustees tend to see the addition of a dedicated bike lane as problematic.
Guests in the upstairs atrium of the Hudson Anchor restaurant on Beekman Avenue included the mayors of Hastings-on-Hudson (Nicola Armacost) and Irvington (Brian Smith); Dobbs Ferry Deputy Mayor Donna Cassell, who is a member of the original steering committee for the project; and Tarrytown trustees David Kim and Karen Brown, who is the village’s mayor-elect.
Also lending support were District 92 Assemblymember Tom Abinanti and Susan Tolchin, a top aide of State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, whose district includes Tarrytown and the river villages south. Conspicuously absent were any representatives of Sleepy Hollow. Indeed, the emailed invitation to the event included video clips of Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray voicing skepticism about plans for the lane in his village.
The news out of the reception was that the New York State Department of Transportation has assigned a liaison to the Route 9 project. While they did not know who that representative would be or what effect the role might have on the project, bike transportation advocates Dan Convissor and Andrew Ratzkin interpreted the assignment as a step forward.
Mayor Wray is not alone in expressing concerns about what the addition of a dedicated lane on Broadway from Beekman Avenue to Tarrytown’s Main Street would have on traffic and parking. Outgoing Tarrytown Mayor Tom Butler, who generally supports the Route 9 project overall, believes a bike lane in that stretch is not feasible. “There needs to be a bypass around this choke point,” he says. One grand way to achieve that would be to divert bikers and hikers coming from the north onto the RiverWalk trail, which is scheduled in the coming years to connect with the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge shared use path and points south.
Seamless bike path proponents counter that increasing use of bicycles (ergo fewer cars), improvements in public transportation, and perhaps diversion of truck traffic from Broadway elsewhere, perhaps to Route 9A through Elmsford, would go a long way toward relieving the congestion, leaving room for the bikers.