NYPD doesn't like us - Rockland County isn't thrilled either

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Anonymous's picture


I just wanted to give you some advanced heads-up so you can pass some info along to your club. I've been in a series of meetings with the mayoralty and police departments representing the river villages up the route from Piermont to Nyack (and will be meeting
with more shortly). The primary goal of our meeting was to talk about increased activity for jointly-funded bicycling programs (which is going well, but slowly) but extended into a conversation about bike safety and traffic issues.

While we both know that club-run rides in general are safer than your average bike ride, and are more likely to have members obey traffic regulations, the local towns are furious at the (mostly) non resident non-club members who pass through the area breaking all manner of laws. They're so upset that many of the towns are talking about banning cyclists on the roads. They also know that it's not the local clubs that are breaking the laws, but are asking us to help.

We've let the towns know that a lot of the responsibility for the infractions comes from the fact that as long as cyclists have been coming to the area, there has been a history of terribly poor
signage regarding things like the single-file laws in the river villages, sporadically and incorrectly enforced. So we're going to be working with the local police departments to try and help develop a two-pronged education and enforcement approach. Beginning this spring, cyclists in the area can expect to see stepped up programs to let cyclists know the laws in the area and to enforce them. In order for this to be effective, we really need everyone who can disseminate this to do so. There's nothing less at stake than the future assured rights to continue to use a major cycling corridor in the region.

Here are the major issues that residents bring up over and over with regard to cyclists who pass through the region, and the areas that will see the most enforcement:

Single-file riding: Piermont, South Nyack and Grandview have single-file laws that are more
stringent than state motor vehicle code. The easy version is that cyclists must ride single file. Even without this rule though, NY motor vehicle code requires single file riding if riding two-abreast
would impede the flow of traffic, as is clearly the case on Piermont Avenue. This is a huge issue as groups of four abreast, several deep,
cyclists often proceed down the corridor.

Stop signs and stoplights: Cyclists in the region regularly run the stop signs and stop lights in the towns. Groups leaving Runcible
Spoon regularly run the light at the corner of Main and Broadway. This is dangerous and illegal and it's a huge concern of the town governments.

Helmets: New York State requires helmets for all minors but Rockland requires all cyclists to wear helmets.

Courtesy: Obviously, this one is not a law of any kind, but is a common-sense issue. We, and the towns, receive lots of complaints about cyclists gathered outside local establishments that fail to move when pedestrians pass through the groups. Much of the issue here is the lack of good bench-type seating in the towns, but the feedback we get is that cyclists are ""rude"" and won't even move for a baby carriage. I have never seen this personally but this story gets back to me a lot.

Likewise we're often confronted by stories from motorists who have just encountered a group of cyclists and were cursed at by the cyclists. Usually the motorist doesn't realize that they've just
endangered the lives of the group of cyclist going by, but often the cyclists don't realize they were doing something wrong to put the motor vehicle operator in that position. Just as cyclists don't like
being yelled at by passing motorists, drivers don't like to be yelled at by cyclists.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Of course the elephant in the room is allowing parking along this narrow 2 lane road from under the Tappen Zee Bridge to Piermont. The road is dangerous for cars, let alone cyclists. If speed laws were enforced for cars at a safe speed for the current parking situation, I don't think a cyclist would be going too slowly to slow traffic.

Also, it wouldn't hurt if the pavement and grates were cycle friendly. Keeping right can be dangerous. Although, I haven't been on this stretch for months so I don't know if this has been ameliorated.

We will never be able to satisfy the anti-cyclites but we can take some of the wind out of their sails if we play by their rules.

Anonymous's picture
mike p (not verified)

i am sue the communtity of piermount could reroute their roads to better share the road with bicyclist.
making some of the roads one way would solve some of the dangerous area. are motorcycles required to ride single file?
the helmet law is just a harassment issue, i doubt it has been applied to anyone yet, and i doubt it hold up in court. maybe that will be my mission next summer, if they don't close the gw bridge bike path again.

in small towns like these,multiples of cyclist running redlights and stop signs will bring stricter enforcement.

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)

There is only one road into Piermont from the North or South. Any other entry has to come from up on 9W. There's simply no where to re route the traffic.

We ARE talking to them about a neat way to re route the cycling traffic though.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
They threaten to CLOSE the road to cyclists? Fat chance.

They'll have a bit of a legal problem if they do.

Just as the NYPD has sufficent law already on the books to ticket the Critical Massers who go through red lights and obstruct intersections which makes hollow the PD's claimed basis for it parade permit proposal, so too do those villages have ample laws on the books now they could enforce to accomplish their alleged goals without resorting to the radical and doubtfully legal act of closing River Road to cyclists.

Anonymous's picture
Hannah (not verified)
Not so fat?

Sag Harbor and at least one other town on LI that I'm not remembering right now have downtown streets that do not allow cycling. In Sag Harbor, to add insult to injury, the bike shop is on the no-bike street.

I agree with everyone that the cars are the real problem, and this is also the case in Sag Harbor, where the closed-to-bike street is often blocked by cars pulling into or out of angled parking spaces. That said, I wouldn't put it past a quaint little touristy town to ban cycling on a main road.


Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)
Threaten to close

"I think that the general point of my meeting with the police departments (where I was a bit ambushed, btw, it was supposed to be only a meeting on improvements to cycling in the area) is that residents are mad. And when the residents are mad, they complain, and they say things like ""we want to ban cyclists"".

Yes, they COULD ban cycles (the other area that's closed in NY is in the Hamptons. Yes it WOULD be hard to do.

We don't want it to get to that point. We'd rather that the amount of law-breaking riders coming through the area decreased enough that there was better interaction.

Our goal is to help things BEFORE someone tries to close any roads to cyclists, not after."

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Communication is key


Thank you for speaking up on all our behalf. For many of us, Piermont and Nyack are our ""weekend getaways."" So keeping a good relationship with our neighbors is crucial, even if not mandated by law. (Though as we know, the law is where people turn when they feel no one is listening to them.)

So we must listen. I hope the NYCC will address these issues as a body: How to contend with lawless cyclists, some of whom are not club members; locals with justifiable complaints; and privileged, antibike, road-raged residents who are pissed off in general.

On the latter note, most of my encounters with residents in the area have involved mutual demonstrations of courtesy. This has been by far my experience in the area.

On several occasions, though, drivers have acted out with near-murderous rage toward me -- a short, female cyclist riding solo on the side of the road. For instance, once about a year ago, I was entering Piermont near Bunbury's, when a thirty-something male driver was leaving the pier area and headed straight toward me -- he was actually driving on the left side of the road. His gestures indicated that his conduct was intentional. I had done absolutely nothing to warrant this reaction, other than to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I've also had female drivers in expensive minivans and Mercedes hassle me and try to force me off the road in Nyack -- again for doing nothing other than being there.

I think the Police Dept. needs to be aware of these types of incidents, and to realize that in some cases complaining residents are exaggerating if not fabricating cyclists' alleged wrongdoing. And that in those instances, cyclists are the ones in need of protection from the locals, not the other way around.


Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)
Come ON

"Once, coming out of Piermont on a group ride, a driver leaned out of her window at the single-file line of us, and shouted: ""Shouldn't you be on the sidewalk? You're a traffic hazard!"" Naively surprised that someone could be that ignorant, I answered, ""You're kidding, right?"" She then swore at me and made some rather personal remarks -- lucky for her she was sitting tight in her steel carapace and didn't wait for me to catch up to her window. I've had drivers scream at me, throw things at me, and try to wedge me off the road, either for the sheer fun of it or simply because they wanted to cut five seconds off their arrival time.

The first problem with the car is that, sort of like the Internet, it enables ""anonymous cowards"" :D to act however they like without accountability. The second problem is that America sees cars as ""the normal transportation,"" and bikes as some weird, subversive, Martian sport that dresses its adherents funny and gets in the way of ""the normal transportation."" We're (rightfully) not allowed on the sidewalk, and reviled on the streets -- we're not pedestrians, we're not drivers. Yet plainly, in an age of megacongestion, pollution, and obesity, the bicycle would seem to make most sense for getting around. Nevertheless, on most American roads, there's no real place for bikes.

Now some Upright Citizens want to ban bikes from the streets. Sorry, (1) that's kind of fascist and (2) cars and their drivers are a far worse hazard than bikes. It's all what people are used to, and we need to fight this B.S. without overly apologizing for ourselves. Yes, some cyclists are menaces; so go after the menaces on two wheels like you go after menaces on four. Banning bikes altogether is just ridiculous."

Anonymous's picture
Frank (not verified)
We All Need Come On

"I ride with RBC and live on South Mountain. It may be fascist but it has been done as mentioned in other posts in this thread. Being wedged off the road, buzzed by an 18 wheeler, sworn at and generally harrassed could happen anywhere and does. We all have war stories.

We have an opportunity to sit down and try to devise a way with the local goverment to try and alleviate the problems. These are ""small town"" officals that can litterally live next door to the person you just pissed off. Most of the locals know where these officals live.....see them on the streets and in the local eateries. Most people can go to Village Hall and get a face to face sit down and vent their frustation with the Mayor or Board member. It's not NYC.

We don't need to apologize we have every right to the road as anyone. We matter and have a voice. It doesn't need to be confrontational. But if it is we'll be heard. We owe to ourselves and the cycling community if we can make some positive changes to at least attempt to. This isn't NYC where I'm certain the process can take forever and be exhausting...almost a survival of the fittest. The local officals welcome the dialouge. We got to give it a shot and make certain they know our side of the story and we are represented in the process. Otherwise if they close roads to cyclists, ticket us and generally make cycling in some of the more charming river villages along the lower Hudson difficult.....well I'm afraid that would really suck. Wouldn't it?


Anonymous's picture
rbj (not verified)

i wonder if they discussed at all any POSITIVE aspects of having cyclists in their communities, ie. increased commerce, promotion of healthy lifestyle, etc. i have a feeling some of those businesses wouldn't even exist without us. however, i guess to joe, having to slow his FUV to 15-20mph for 20 seconds, the thinking doesn't get to that level.

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)
Positive aspects

"Yes, we discussed the positive aspects of cycling. In fact, we've been talking extensively with the river villages about improving the cycling infrastructure and programs in the area.

Nyack, for one, has been remarkably receptive, and we're talking to them a lot.

Let me give you a bit of background though: Grandview has no businesses. It's made up of about 160 residents and it lies between Piermont and South Nyack (so just past commercial section of Piermont until you hit the underpass to the TZ Bridge).

There is no upside to the majority of residents there to cyclists on the roads, since there's only one route to the house, it's got cyclists there all the time, and there's no downtown to benefit.

So, undestandably when Grandview first came to the meeting the deputy mayor was a bit motivated to be anti-cyclist, just from the point of view of complaints/positive comments.

But, by the end he was much more enthusiastic and was happy to talk to us more about ways cycling could help connect his village to the neighboring ones.

Back to Nyack... the mayor is backing our plans for a Labor Day crit in the town, plus looking into locking bike parking in other parts of the town, and some additional programs. They get it.

In many areas this is an easier issue, because cycling doesn't have the negative stigma associated with decades of people breaking the law (and decades of the cops being lackluster in their enforcement.)

But, and I think this is very very important: IT'S NOT BY AND LARGE THE CLUB MEMBERS THAT PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY WITH. No one minds (well except the crazy occasional individual) if a cyclists rides to the right of the ""shoulder"" on river road. Most of the club rides I watch from neighboring areas that come through are nice, courteous and obey the laws.

There are, however, groups that come down river road four abreast (I've seen as many as six) and ride dangerously around traffic. Imagine being an older driver and having your car surrounded momentarily on all sides by bikes whizzing by. It's happened to me, and I'm a cyclist, and it scares the heck out of me.

So that issue exists, followed by the pretty constant ""running of the lights"" on the corner of main and broadway in Nyack, which is less of a concern, if it weren't for other things going on.

And that wouldn't be so bad for people if they hadn't just come from Runicble where cyclists didn't get out of their way while they were pushing a stroller....

And so on. The point is that if we all behave just a LITTLE bit better, it'll have a huge ripple effect.

Anonymous's picture
RichFernandez (not verified)
Thanks for bringing this to us.

"I think some of the complaints are legit.I have seen on numerous occasions cyclist behave as if they own the road,especially up by Nyack's Runcible Spoon area.Dismounting in the middle of the street,stradling their bikes waiting for their friends to the point that motorist have to slow or stop when it is avoidable.Just wait for your friend at the side of the road.I sit up there and just watch stuff as it happens.It not just that its narrow roads,roads with holes or rough road suface mainly at the extreme right where we are expected to ride.Then there's impatience on both sides,lack of bike handling skills,some arent very good at driving their cars or gigantic suv's worth a driving liscense.I tell you the thing that I dont like is when motorist dont signal well in advance to a turn that is made.Then there's the people that just complain about every damn thing so why not complain about the cyclist,""look he just ran a red light!""OMG! the nerve of that guy!Breaking the Law!!!!!!They come up here taking up space and breaking the law.Then the cops are bored,so it excites them to have something to do,Their jobs are justified,by the way in my opinion there really are a whole lot of police to do a lot of nothing so lets make them work.Then they get to stick their chest out and say that they are doing their jobs.I gotta tell you.Some people cant stand the fact that your riding along ""Their"" roads on a bike period,however if you were ""driving a car"",well thats ok.These is the main reasons why I ride by myself.Personally Im very good at riding at the extreme right side of the road.Some people dont feel comfortable riding at the extreme right,cant really blame them but at the same time I dont like when motorist come up behind me and blow their horn,as if they are blowing at me,like I'm a hazzard or something,this lady in a VW beetle did that to me tody and I'm thinking to myself ok you see me and I'm already riding as far to the right that is safe you know that I know I'm riding my bicycle with vehicular traffic,personally I dont get the horn thing maybey some people use the horn as a warning so that they can ""warn"" the cyclist that there is a car comming behind them on the street??Personally I pride my self on using my indicators well in advance to a turn and also not using my horn ever.People may not know but the biggest part of driving is patience and the cops arent guiltless either.I have also experienced riding with a large group and dont give a dog doody about the congo line of cars that cant get past us because some in the group feel its ok to ride all over the place because their part of a large group.Those same cyclist wouldnt be happy if the were driving along at was trying to get somewhere and they got delayed uneccesarily because a bunch of cyclist took over the road.So yeah their will always be people that will complain but lets not give them fuel.So yeah I would love to see people behave more conciously for the benefit of one another.Rich"

Anonymous's picture
Matt (not verified)

Why is it that a few cyclists block the sidewalk or roll through stop signs and they want to ban bicycles...but a large percentage of cars exceed the speed limit, roll through stop signs and double-park, yet no one talks about banning cars???

Money talks. NY cyclists spend thousands of dollars each week in Piermont, Nyack, etc. These towns can either install bike lanes or we can check out the NYCC cue sheets and spend our money elsewhere.

Anonymous's picture
Tom Laskey (not verified)

Sorry, I don't think the commerce argument works very well with our friends up north. There may be a few places that benefit from the influx of cyclists 2 days a week: The Runcible and maybe the Community Market and the place across the street in Piermont. That's hardly enough to win the hearts and minds of the river town residents or to excuse some of the really bad behavior by cyclists I've seen up there.

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)

The commerce issues certainly help, but a business that exists only from the income derived from cyclists on the weekends isn't long for this world.

Let's look at it demographically. Runcible gets about 80% of the cycling traffic in Nyack on a weekend. Other stores get less traffic, much less. Who knows that there's a new french bakery up the street for example (and that unlike Runcible they make all their pastry by hand?) or that there's a nice italian place on Franklin?

In piermont it's community market, piermont bikes and then to a lesser degree brunberry and the ice cream place. But there's a killer new cafe in sparkill called Trailside no one ever goes to.

But the bad behavior of some cyclists poisons it for everyone. The people who don't own Community or Runcible don't care that one store gets a huge boost when they've just been cursed at by someone breaking the law. (They also don't care that they might be using a cell phone and not paying attention... but that's a different issue.)

Anonymous's picture
rbj (not verified)
awareness needs to be 2-sided

Firstly, thank you for your efforts on our behalf. It is much appreciated. I agree with other posters about the sometimes atrocious behavior of some cyclists on this route, which only adds fuel to the fire. And I think enforcing laws (especially the single file one) may help initially, but I don't think it addresses the root of the problem. Basically, as someone pointed out, these drivers think they own the roads outright, and see cyclists simply as a nuisance, in their way, and not belonging on the roads in the first place. Years of motorist behavior has burned this into my brain - the incessant horn-blaring, swearing, throwing things at us out the window - this when we’re politely riding single file, obeying all rules, and as far right as safely possible. Nothing reasonable will satisfy this type of mentality.
The awareness campaign is a good idea, but needs to be aimed at both sides. Increased signage and law-enforcement should apply to motorists as well. They need to know that abusing cyclists, passing when unsafe, excessive speed, etc. will have consequences.
Thank you,

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Share the road. It applies to all the animals in the kingdom.
Anonymous's picture
Ex-Clubber (not verified)
The Sound of One Hand Patting Your Own Back

">>While we both know that club-run rides in general are safer than your average bike ride, and are more likely to have members obey traffic regulations, the local towns are furious at the (mostly) non resident non-club members who pass through the area breaking all manner of laws.<<

Just wondering, how do you ""both know"" this to be true?

I've been heading up to Nyack since the Reagan Admin, and have heard about cranks whining about ""all these bikers"" at town hall meetings since then.

Heck, I'm not nuts about all their kids crowding all ""my"" bars and restaurants here in The City every weekend either. But you know what? If I don't like it, I can always move... maybe to Grandview?

And please, don't trot out that Rockland Helmet ""Law"" BS again. It's been around since 1991, and not a single summons has EVER been written.


Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)

"You are actually incorrect on the helmet law summonses not being written. They're written, and they're enforced. I saw three separate traffic stops for helmets this season alone.

There's an interesting thing about laws: you don't have to like them for them to be laws.

These ""cranks"" you hear are the tax paying citizenry of the towns. Yes, many of them complain about anything and everything. But as the mayor of Nyack pointed out, the first rule of being a government official is to listen to those who have the power to elect you. Someone who lives in NYC and rides to Nyack on the weekends can't vote for the mayor of Nyack, and so isn't going to have the influence that the cranks have.

I should not have actually said the club rides are ""safer"" what I was trying to get at is that a well-lead ride tends to have fewer violations of the law than the pack ""training"" rides that come through the streets. That's really what people complain about.

I'm not sure there's a direct correlation between people lawfully enjoying the services of a bar and people behaving unlawfully on the roads. If you were to say that you don't like kids coming to your bars and littering, or illegally parking that would be a parallel. By and large the residents aren't complaining about bikes in general, they're complaining about specific problems.

There are rules governing the conduct of motor vehicle use. Bikes are considered motor vehicles. If you want the right to use those vehicles on the local streets, you have to follow the rules.

The fact that cars are more dangerous and also break laws is moot because we're talking about the safe and legal use of bikes. You can't justify one bad behavior with someone else's bad behavior.

Please don't ask me not to ""trot out"" the laws in our community. If I'm going to have to represent cycling at large before the local governments in order to try and maintain the welcomeness cyclists currently receive, even as some of the behave badly, I'm going to mention what those government officials tell me. What they tell me is that people complain about cyclists who break the law. Helmet use is a much smaller percentage of the problem than running lights and stop signs, but it's been mentioned, and so I mention it here."

Anonymous's picture
Ex-Clubber (not verified)

>>You are actually incorrect on the helmet law summonses not being written. They're written, and they're enforced.<<

Then please inform me on what the specific penalties are for failure to comply. You know someone who's actually either written or received such summons?

>>I saw three separate traffic stops for helmets this season alone. <<

I've been stopped on at least a half dozen occasions, and I know of at least a half dozen more that have been stopped at least a half dozen times, usually by the same Orangetown cop, who seems to have a fetish about this. But I know of no one that's ever gotten anything more than the same ol' yada-yada-yada warning.

>> There's an interesting thing about laws: you don't have to like them for them to be laws. <<

No, but they have to be enforced to be taken seriously. As a daily bike commuter here in NYC, it irks me that I have to be on guard for crowds of peds walking out into road against the light, but c'mon, whoever got slapped with a jaywalking ticket?

Anonymous's picture
Josh (not verified)
a good tactic

Ask the several towns to install bicycle lanes.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
I've re-thought this: maybe it's not a shrewd proposal after all

I'm persuaded, for good reasons, the proposal will be D.O.A. Still, no harm and only good can come from offering the proposal.

Wait, maybe some harm, i.e. public relations damage, could come from our merely proposing it: the village fathers (and mothers) might construe this as an attempted grab of their holy space by us--miserable cyclists and, even worse, outsiders. And they would not be wrong in thinking and feeling that.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Piermont Av isn't wide enough for bike lns & still have parking
Anonymous's picture
Perry Roubaix (not verified)

And that's a good thing. The road is what I call a multi-use road. 25 mph, joggers, cyclists, cars, Lance moving rocks from one place to another with his tractors, huge puddles from lousy drainage, parked cars, dog walkers, atrocious sidewalks, etc. No one driving a car on that road should be in a hurry to get anyplace. 9W is for speeed.

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)

While I understand why motorists would be upset with cyclists riding 3 or 4 abreast, and slowing down the motorists for a few seconds, as Hank pointed out, their traffic-flow related complaints are sort of laughable. I was on Ferdon Ave. heading up to Piermont yesterday, and while this road is just large enough for 1 lane in each direction, parking is allowed! So if cars are approaching from either side, the car(s) on one side must come to a full stop and allow the car(s) from the other side to go through before they can procede. Talk about impeding the flow of traffic! How is this not a bigger issue for motorists???

Anonymous's picture
some other guy (not verified)

"it's not a bigger issue for motorists because the cars mainly below to people who live there, and the people complaining in that town think they have special rights to the roads: that is more than outsiders and more than cyclists.

It's pretty simple actually. You may hear comments about safety (""and some of them don't even wear helmets!"") and law but it's really about them versus others."

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Piermont Avenue is a County Route 1. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. This means funding is underwritten by Rockland County. Does anybody really believe Grandview and/or Piermont is going to pass an ordinance to ban bicycles which would stick? Or, does anyone think these towns would take over maintenance costs on the road, forfeiting funding, just to stick it to cyclists?

I hope this doesn't come across as a rabble rousing rant. What I am saying is that a toothless dog is barking. None-the-less, we must be the great man and abide their complaints. When they visit New York we can scare the hell out of them. But on the road we are ambassadors of the sport.

Anonymous's picture
Ron Gentile (not verified)
Rt. 1

"I think there's a sign where Piermont Ave. passes southbound under the Thruway that says ""End Route 1"".

I agree about being ambassadors in general. A simple courteous gesture can quickly change people's perceptions of cyclists and can be an example to fellow cyclists as well."

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

My Hagstrom map shows Rt 1 beginning just north of Ash. I recall seeing a sign designating the end of the county route in this region, meaning the Grandview stretch is a county road.

On a related, but slighly off topic note: 3 weeks ago I went south from Nyack to Sparkill, avoiding Piermont entirely, via the rail trail. We were on mtn bikes and the path was covered with leaves so I cannot vouch if it is road bike friendly. However, everyone should try this route if not for the fact that it is a good ride, direct, available and something different. It crosses Ash and at least one other street, otherwise it is direct. I had the feeling I was in one of those dreams where I was back in the house I grew up in and found a room I never knew existed. You can access it off Valentine where it goes under the 9W Sparkill overpass. It even has its own shoulder as it travels along a road on an overpass above the NYS Thruway.

Should the bike rail trail gain popularity as a route to Nyack, it will take cycling pressure off Piermont Avenue.

Anonymous's picture
Josh (not verified)

How long is the rail trail, and can you give a bit more specifics? I'd like to try it. I heard of a rail trail going south out of Nyack, but didnt think it was worth taking since it was only a few miles. Is that the same one? Does it go to Piermont and further south? Sparkill is not on my map.

Anonymous's picture
Hannah (not verified)
rail trail

For more info about the rail trail, see this thread:


You can get off in Piermont on Ash (as I did) or continue on to Nyack.

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)

This is actually the path that we've been talking to them about paving, as it would seriously help traffic issues, if it were to become a bike route. The problem is the same grandview residents who are troubled by cyclists passing their streets would them have the cyclists moved to their back yard.

But we're talking about it, and it's on our long-range goals.

Anonymous's picture
Fendergal (not verified)

"While rail trails are a nice change of scenery from roads, they can't be used as a substitute. Many road cyclists will insist on riding them faster than appropriate, PO'ing other trail users. I think of a trail as a wider, unpaved sidewalk.

Then there's the argument of whether rail trails and greenways hurt the legitimacy of bikes as road users. Think of it, how many times have you heard drivers yell, ""Get on the sidewalk!"" ""Get on the bike path!"""

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)
A point about volume

"In addition to the comments in my letter, I just wanted to make a point about volume relative to severity.

I've heard statistics from DOT that somewhere of three thousand cyclists pass through river road on a weekend in the summer. Seems high, so let's go with 2000 a week instead of 3000 a weekend to be conservative.

If 25% of those cyclists break some small law—fail to stop at a stop sign, ride more than single file, fail to signal a turn, etc that ends up being 25% of 8000=2000.

Imagine if you lived on a stretch of road where each month the law was broken 2000 times. Sure, a bike is much less noticeable if it does something like rolls through a stop, but just imagine if you were living somewhere where there were 2000 times when you weren't sure if crossing the road would get you hit by a car, or if you were going to be driving your car and accidentally hit someone who didn't obey the right of way laws.

You'd get tired of it pretty fast.

Now imaging that in addition to that, at least twice a week a gang of people came through breaking laws on a bigger level as well. Swarming around cars, taking up both sides of the road, failing to stop at lights en-masse, etc.

That would make you a lot more sensitive to the smaller infractions.

That's what's going on here in the river villages. It's just a little perspective to put this into context.

We all ride knowing what it's like to be ALMOST hit by a car (and some of us know what it's like to be hit) so we are very sensitive to bike v. car incidents when we're cyclists, but it's important to remember the mindset of the people who are watching an endless stream of people failing to obey the laws in their town. Even if everyone isn't breaking the law, when enough people do, it gets really upsetting.

I also want to thank everyone for talking about this. The point of the letter was just to raise awareness, and everyone seems really nice about this.

Yes, it would be INCREDIBLY difficult to ban bikes on the roads. But it wouldn't be impossible. And we don't want it to get even close enough that it is being discussed for real, which is why we're talking about it now.

Also, to just say ""they can't close the roads"" misses the point that they WANT to. (Not all, some.) And they want to not because everyone who comes through the towns is obeying the laws, being courteous and being a visible icon of good health and community spirit. It's because a lot of people are coming though and breaking the laws.

So please spread the word, we're trying really hard to improve cycling infrastructure up here in Rockland, we just need everyone's help.


Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
If all River Rd. cyclists obeyed all the village laws...

...We'd still be reviled by the natives. Guaranteed.

We're outsiders. They don't want to see, hear, or feel the presence of outsiders.

Anonymous's picture
David Schloss (not verified)

That's a conclusion that's impossible to make as long as the laws are not being obeyed.

The RBC is working hard to improve the focus on cycling in the region as a positive force for the environment and residents. Imagine, for example, if we dontated bikes to residents, got bike parking put in and encouraged people who live nearby to come shop in the downtown. Imagine the positive force that would have.

But none of that'll happen without bikes being less of a thorn in people's side.

It's also not a valid argument for running a stop sign or a stoplight. (Ignoring the xenophobic overtones too, since the businesses in the towns love outsiders, and in fact exist to a large part on tourist dollars and the people from NYC who relocate to the area.)

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
What an idea! Buy people's goodwill. That could change history!

Wow! Talk about obsequiousness. You want to buy and give bikes as gifts to townspeople and work to improve the local economy all so you can have the right that is yours anyhow?

Gee, why didn't the blacks think to use this tactic--buy the goodwill of those who hate you--to overcome the Jim Crow laws? Why don't the Palestinians try it on the West Bank? Why not the Tutsis in Rwanda? That Darfuris against the jumjuaweeds? Or even the Jews in Germany? What a concept. Don't preach Chrstianity of loving your neighbor. Buy his affections.

If you don't understand the almost innate dislike of just about everyone for different people and for all outsiders, you haven't read history and aren't reading the papers. Boro Park. Howard Beach. CT and Westchester beaches. And whatever is the name of that gated community near Coney Island. They all come to mind as close encounters of a wretched unkind.

(And, pulleassse, Dave, don't, for one second,try to tar me with defending inconsiderate, not to mention affirmatively offensive cyclists. I don't. I castigate them. Also, as I wrote, I seldom ride that road into Grandview or Nyack.)

Anonymous's picture
Jimmy Legs (not verified)

There are undoubtedly several hundred cars going over the speed limit in Piermont every single day, and a few dozen incidents of cars not yielding to pedestrians in downtown (such as it is) Piermont each day.

Imagine that. Imagine having to live with that.

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)

It seems unlikely the towns would/could ban cyclists, but they could pretty easily have the local police step up enforcement of traffic laws. One example: not sure what the local cycling regs are, but if it's not already there, they could probably enact a regulation requiring bells, and then have the police enforce that.

Personally, I'd rather be courteous to the motorists and local peds than have to worry about being ticketed for minor infractions. Although I think the locals are dramatically overestimating the traffic impediment caused by cyclists, let's keep in mind that if they want to make their towns cycling-unfriendly, they can easily do so.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Cars Honking at cyclists

I know when cyclists are riding in traffic, we’re already at DEF CON 4. A car honking doesn’t really tell us anything unless you’re wearing your IPOD.

I’ve learned a long time ago in order to keep my peace. The appropriate response is always a friendly wave back.

Friendly Honks- a co-worker, friend or fellow cyclist honks, I wave back to say Hi.

Cautionary Honks- I’m right behind you and getting ready to pass, I wave to tell them “Gotcha”, (it’s clear), or I stick my arm out to tell them to give me some space, or it’s not clear.

FU-get off the road, leaning on the horn type of honks- I wave back to say Hi again. I might have done something stupid. It confuses them and they don’t know what to make of your gesture. Anger is defused and you both go on your merry way.

Most of the time, people honk because they want to be sure that you know they’re there. The angry drivers are angry regardless of your presence. Who knows? It could be a fellow cyclist who doesn’t like the color of your shoes.

If the road conditions allow you to take you hand off the bar for 2 seconds,

Don’t even look, wave back and acknowledge them.

Your blood pressure stays low and you can ride longer.

If their real intention is to harass you, stop and take out your cell phone.

cycling trips