Sag Harbor residents might see cyclists riding down Main Street in the coming year, at least Sag Harbor resident and bike enthusiast Sinead Fitzgibbon hopes so. Fitzgibbon worked in association with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano to request from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees a repeal of a village law that forbids bicyclists from riding on Main Street, during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 9. The law also inhibits joggers from jogging on Main Street sidewalks.
Fitzgibbon met with Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris, and Sara Gordon, a member of the Sag Harbor green committee “725-Green,” two weeks ago to discuss ways of making Sag Harbor more bike friendly, to promote a greener village community. Ferraris then connected Fitzgibbon with Fabiano, who believes the bike regulation is hard to enforce law.
She has also seemed to rally significant local support. Fitzgibbon’s cyclists advocacy group, named “Spokes People,” had 30 attendees at its last meeting, and she has a list of 200 members from Riverhead to Montauk.
Fitzgibbon compiled a dossier of research for the board on potential Main Street bicyclists markings. Fitzgibbon suggests that bikers ride in the center of the lane. She would also like bicycling markings, of either a series of pointing arrows or a caricature of a cyclist contained in a larger arrow, to be clearly painted on the street in Thermoplastic paint. Residents will recognize similar markings on the bike lane of Route 114.
“The concept of a Main Street bike route with designated markings encourages motorists to share the road with cyclists,” Fitzgibbon later said. Through her research, she also found that a greater percentage of cyclists on the road lowers the percentage of accidents between bikes and cars.
At the meeting, Fitzgibbon added that she believed the town law disallowing bike travel down Main Street was in fact a violation of state law that allows bikes on all public roads.
“That is simply not true,” countered Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred Thiele, Jr. later. “There is a provision in the general municipal law which is a state law that gives the authority to towns and cities to regulate the use of bicycles within their municipalities. The village has the authority to regulate bike usage, as long as those regulations are reasonable.”
Some feel that these regulations were put in place as a safety precaution.
“That is why the law was enacted, over concerns with bikes and the village parking situation. Maybe people [in cars] wouldn’t see the bicyclists,” said village trustee Ed Deyermond. “I think people jogging in the summertime on the sidewalk when it is very crowded is opening up a can of worms.”
The relationship between the village’s parking and cyclists was an issue that concerned board member Tiffany Scarlato, who attested to seeing many accidents between bicycles and cars in the downtown area of the village.
Police Chief Tom Fabiano said that he understood that the law had been enacted as a safety measure. He added that the law had been created a long time ago, in the late 1980s, and that today, even with more traffic control officers on the streets of the village it remains an extremely difficult law to enforce.
“I think [a bike plan] could be done on a trial basis,” continued Fabiano “I am willing to try anything. We should look into trying different things.”
Scarlato suggested that this was a good opportunity to explore alternative options, such as allowing bikes to ride on streets in the village which run parallel to Main Street. Fitzgibbon hopes to arrange a meeting with some of the board members, or on an individual basis, to clarify her suggestions for the markings down Main Street.
“The plan may not be as inherently dangerous as they perceive it to be,” said Fitzgibbon.
There will be a public hearing on this issue at next month’s board of trustees meeting, on January 13. The public is encouraged to come to the meeting and express their views on this issue. The village attorney, Fred Thiele, Jr. will also come to the meeting with prepared legislation for the repeal of the law.
Above Image: An unknown female cyclist whizzes through Sag Harbor Village.Â