The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor:
In the May 21 minutes of the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee (BPC), there is mention of a future project: “Sidewalk access for cyclists and electric scooters—recommend to Village that the code be updated.”
The current law is at 197-1 of the village code, and it already prohibits bicycling on the sidewalk. NY State Vehicle & Traffic Law 1225-A prohibits operating a motor vehicle on the sidewalk.
It can't hurt to add electric scooters to the village code, but laws mean nothing if they are not enforced. The NYS Department of Transportation says: “Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Cyclists on sidewalks can cause conflicts with pedestrians; like wrong-way riding, crashes can occur because bicyclists are in situations where others do not expect them. Except for very young cyclists under parental supervision, sidewalks are not for bicycling.”
Think about safety for a minute. I’m legally walking my dog, pushing my child in a stroller, or just avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. I should not have to worry about bikes and scooters coming my way. The village code also prohibits riding your horse on the sidewalk, but we don't seem to have many violations of that law.
Education of the public should be the number one objective of the BPC because it is obvious that the rules of the road are often not observed by cyclists in the village. At least one member of the BPC has been seen riding against traffic or ignoring red lights and stop signs on numerous occasions. All of us should lead by example.
Ponder these safety tips, which conform to NYS requirements: 1. All bicycles must be roadworthy with lights, bells, reflectors and mirrors, and functioning brakes. 2. Bicyclists should wear safety helmets. 3. You may not ride with headphones or ear plugs in both ears. 4. Bicyclists must obey all vehicle traffic laws. (You can’t ride through red lights, you can’t ride against traffic, you must signal your intentions when turning, etc.)
Quite frankly, I’d like to see the BPC members out in the Village educating cyclists whenever they see someone not observing the rules, giving free bicycle inspections, and giving public bicycle safety talks. Now, that would be real progress!