Bikes, Business and BS (Brainstorming)

$150,000 can buy many things and according to Daniel Convissor, a Sleepy Hollow resident and community activist, it has produced a study with a NYC consulting firm entitled, “The Route 9 Active Transportation Conceptual Design Plan” [which] is bringing together residents, merchants and government officials with transportation professionals to figure out how to:

a) provide a protected bike lane along Route 9 from the north end of Sleepy Hollow through the south end of Hastings-on-Hudson, that will make it safe and fun to get to shops, schools, friends and the bike path on the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

b) improve sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections in this corridor to make things safer and more inviting for people walking.

c) make bus stops more accessible and attractive.

The project is a collaboration of residents and officials in the

Villages of Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson. It’s being funded by the Community Benefits Program of the New NY Bridge. We thank Todd Westhuis, the Director of Region 8 of the State’s Department of Transportation, for his support and participation.

River Journal is familiar with Mr. Convissor through his emails concerning multiple issues within the Village of Sleepy Hollow ranging from a Route 9 Streetscape, crossing guards, Sleepy Hollow’s budget, garbage can sizing, traffic safety, the East Parcel FEIS, Governor Cuomo and support of hotel tax, Sleepy Hollow Police matters, meeting State Senator Murphy, improvements for Broadway and a Tappan Zee Bridge pedestrian and bike path.

I Spy...with my little eye...A possible bike lane?In keeping with Mr. Convissor’s tag line at the end of each email… Disagree with someone? Engage and Organize. Don’t demonize… we engaged him by asking several questions regarding a dedicated bike lane on Route 9 and specifically through the Village of Tarrytown.

The consideration of a dedicated bike lane on Route 9 in Tarrytown has many business owners concerned – and for good reason. Parking is at a premium on the highly-traveled and only direct north/south route connecting the Rivertowns.  At a recent meeting of 15 or more merchants, several made comments concerning the parking issue and how it related to their businesses. “I’m only here because I happened to find a spot outside your store,” a customer said to a store owner on Broadway. Another owner was succinct with regard to a dedicated bike lane on Broadway. “A bike path and I’m done,” he said. Still another business owner said that the closing of the former CitiBank parking lot on Neperan Road has caused a downturn in his business.  Others chimed in that their businesses had dropped off anywhere from 10-30% in recent years, and the consensus as to a prime factor for the decline was lack of parking.

The Village of Tarrytown has weighed in on a bike lane along Route 9 and the perennial paucity of parking. The following is an email excerpt dated 10/27/17 from Richard Slingerland, Tarrytown’s Village Administrator.

The Village of Tarrytown realizes the importance of bicyclists and pedestrians to our communities, since they originate from our community, and also travel here to visit our community from other areas.  We also realize it is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in both bicyclists and pedestrians when the new Shared Use Path opens up across the new Tappan Zee Mario Cuomo Bridge.

As a balance, parking is a vital resource that is in high demand in all municipalities around Westchester, including the Village of Tarrytown.

Having raised the issue with our Chamber of Commerce and discussing it with the Board of Trustees, the Village of Tarrytown has concerns about the elimination of parking along Route 9 that would replace the parking with a bicycle lane.

A discussion this morning with the Chamber noted that there are approximately 60 parking spaces serving our Downtown Business Districts between Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown that could potentially be eliminated, if a dedicated bicycle lane was to be created on Route 9. This is not favored by the Tarrytown community. Any creation of a bicycle lane should consider maximizing safety while minimizing or avoiding the elimination of much needed parking in the Downtowns.

Please note this during the formulation of your report.

Now back to Mr. Convissor and his response to his reason for activism. “I kept meeting people who want to use their bikes to run errands, go to restaurants, visit friends, go to school, attend soccer practice, etc. But they don’t because they’re too scared. The number and behavior of people driving is terrifying,” he said. “Places that are nicer for walking and biking are nicer overall. They’re vibrant, pleasant places that people enjoy going to. That’s great for merchants. A big goal of Bike Tarrytown is improving the economy in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown,” he added.

Of note is that at the time of this writing the temperature is 33 degrees with a northwest wind of 20 mph. The weather report says it feels like 18 degrees.  A brisk walk to the Tarrytown Post Office reveals bundled pedestrians in and out of their cars.  A cup of hot coffee turns cold waiting for a bicyclist to approach from either direction on the Route 9 or the sidewalk that parallels it. A unique day weather-wise, granted, but the situation is not so farfetched.

Mr. Convissor writes, “A general point to remember [is that] our Villages have 20,000 people living within 2 miles of our downtowns. That’s a perfect distance for cycling. In many cases, riding can be faster and more convenient that driving.”

Point, counterpoint. What percentage of the 20,000 residents are considered to be senior citizens who might be unable or unwilling to ride – motorized or not – a bicycle up and down the hills in both Villages? And how many people will dress up for dinner, hop on their bikes and go to dinner, then pedal home hill and dale with a full stomach.  One other consideration. How many people will go food shopping with a long shopping list that will entail multiple bags of groceries?

Now here’s a thought. What about cyclists stopping to have a beer or three?  It’s a law – don’t drink and drive.  How will that play out? Absurd questions? Not really.

For more information about what’s being “pedaled” on Broadway, visit the following sites:

for the Steering Committee members

for those who want to run errands on bikes

for merchants favoring a bike lane for an online survey

Daniel Convissor fostering bike culture & infrastructure in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.

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