State tries to make LI more bike-friendly

With an 85-mile string of small green signs, state transportation officials are calling out to Long Island cyclists: These roads belong to you, too.

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Published March 21, 2007 by NewsDay.com
BY JENNIFER MALONEY

NY — With an 85-mile string of small green signs, state transportation officials are calling out to Long Island cyclists: These roads belong to you, too.

The state Department of Transportation has completed Long Island's first long-distance signed bike route — a winding course from the Long Island Rail Road station at Cold Spring Harbor to the Orient Point ferry terminal.

The route follows existing roads with wide shoulders and low traffic volumes, said state DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters.

"We're really trying to improve the facilities and opportunities for … people who would like to bicycle on Long Island but otherwise can't," Peters said. "We want to encourage more people to get involved so that they feel more protected when they're on Long Island roads, that this is their section of road that's there for them to use."

The route, which runs the length of Suffolk's North Shore, is uninterrupted except for a 1.5-mile gap in Smithtown, where transportation planners could not find a safe route because of heavy car traffic and street parking, Peters said. She said cyclists could start or end in Smithtown or walk their bikes.

Green signs featuring a bicycle image identify the route's two sections: State Bicycle Route 25A, which runs 18 miles from Cold Spring Harbor to Smithtown, and State Bicycle Route 25, which stretches 67 miles from Smithtown to Orient Point.

Posted every half-mile, the signs include distances to towns along the way and point cyclists to LIRR stations, where they can carry bikes onto trains for a one-time $5 bike registration fee. Though the route does not feature a separate bike path or lane, Peters said she hopes that the signs will remind drivers to be alert for cyclists.

Bill Selsky, president of the Long Island Bicycle Club, said the route may encourage would-be cyclists who are wary of aggressive drivers.

"In the bike club, we're kind of used to it and we ride in groups," he said. "Somebody going out on their own is more likely to be frightened. It's nice to have roads that are designated and bicycle-friendly."