County Chain Gang
More and more Westchester towns and bikers are getting it in gear.
Lucky us. Westchester offers miles of superb trails for bicycling. In fact, it’s home to North America’s “Best Hometown Trail” (namely, the Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill), according to Bike magazine. And while the County may not yet be a perfect heaven for cyclists—hey, pols, when are you going to install bike racks on our buses and remove State DOT rumble strips on our two-lane roads?—it’s pretty darn good. Something that apparently many of you have noticed.
Bicycling has grown in the County tremendously in recent years. Take it from David Wilson, president of the Westchester Cycling Club and co-founder of the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester and Putnam (BWAWP). “We offered eight-hundred seventy-three rides last year, up from six-hundred forty-eight the year before. And, over five years, our family membership went from seven-hundred four to eleven-hundred ninety.”
Any wonder, then, that bike shops are thriving? John Koenck, co-manager of Pelham Bicycle Center, and Steve Kahn, owner of Danny’s Cycles, both report increased purchases of all types of bikes. Kahn even opened a second shop last May, in Mohegan Lake, to complement the original store founded in Scarsdale more than 40 years ago. “We’ve seen a bigger increase in the purchase of comfort bikes,” Koenck says. “And, because of the demand, we now stock folding bikes.”
Those bikes may be seen today on The North County Trailway and the South County Trailway, which together offer approximately 36 miles of nearly continuous off-road cycling. Or along the Bronx River Parkway on Bicycle Sundays, the County’s most popular Parks Department program. The program runs from April through October when, between 10 am and 2 pm, a seven-mile stretch of the Parkway becomes a car-free zone for some 3,000 cyclists.
Additional trails are nearing completion, with others in planning stages. These include the Rye Playland Parkway Pathway, the Westchester RiverWalk, and County portions of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which runs from Maine to Florida. Proposals for the new Tappan Zee Bridge include plans for at least one pathway for cycling, although bike advocates and some officials agree that pathways on both sides would allow for optimum views and traffic flow.
Bedford, Briarcliff, Croton-on-Hudson, Eastchester, Pelham, and Tarrytown have bike committees working on improving roads and paths in their towns for cyclists. “We want to find ways to encourage cycling throughout the region and improve safety,” says John Todaro, head of the bike committee in Eastchester.
With growing interest and awareness across communities, along with appropriate support from local, county, and state officials, a cycling nirvana may be just around the bend.