There’s long been a rivalry between motorists and cyclists on Long Island. Many, though certainly not all, drivers believe roads are meant exclusively for cars, and that bicycles belong elsewhere. (Where, precisely, is unclear.) These motorists drive precariously close to cyclists rather than slowing down and giving them room as they pass. Others honk. Some go so far as to shout at them.
Accidents –– even deaths –– are too common. Long Island ranks among the most dangerous regions in New York –– even in the entire country –– for cycling, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Meanwhile, many bicyclists either don’t know or thumb their noses at the New York State Department of Transportation’s cycling rules. They ride the wrong way, against traffic. (Cyclists should always ride with traffic.) They ride in the middle of the road. (They should ride as far to the right as possible.) They ride on sidewalks. (They never should.) They ride two and three abreast when being passed by a vehicle. (State law allows cyclists to ride two and three across, but not when being passed.) They blow through stop signs. (They never, ever should.)
And all cyclists should wear helmets, even though they’re not required after age 14.
Sadly, there’s too much anger and derision between motorists and cyclists. The solution: The state, county and towns should create more paths where cyclists can ride safely, away from Nassau County’s crowded streets. In other words, we should separate the warring parties.
Actually, the state DOT is doing just that. In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo christened a 3.6-mile, $3.8 million extension of the Wantagh Parkway bike trail, which leads east along the Ocean Parkway. We can only say, Bravo, Governor!
We encourage the state to continue this bikeway 11 miles farther east on the Ocean Parkway, to the Captree State Park boat basin. If the state were to complete the trail, it would fulfill a longtime dream of Long Island cycling enthusiasts to connect Nassau and Suffolk counties via one long bike trail.
The round trip from Cedar Creek Park, in Seaford, to Captree and back again would be 40 miles. That’s a nice ride for an experienced cyclist training for a triathlon or a “century,” a 100-mile race.