“Safe, reliable, and comfortable transportation for non-motorized travelers” — including pedestrian walkways, marked bicycle routes, and bike lanes — is being planned for the South Fork’s state roads, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
The improvements, now in the design phase, are expected to commence next spring under the supervision of the State Department of Transportation, and will put the roads in compliance with both state standards and those of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“We have worked long and hard to change the attitude that our roads are only for the automobile,” Mr. Thiele said in an e-mail on Saturday. He has spearheaded traffic calming measures and bike lane projects along Route 114, for example, “to encourage pedestrian and bicycle use of our roadways,” he wrote, adding that the projects will be another step toward creating more livable communities.
The state projects will include filling in gaps in sidewalks that are shorter than half a mile in length, and additional marked bicycle lanes to “address critical connections in our local bicycle network,” according to a release from Mr. Thiele’s office. During the process, other improvements may be provided as well, he said, such as curbs, signs, and the replacement of paving.
Upgrades to bike lanes, shoulder repair, signs, parking limitations, and pavement markings are planned for Montauk Highway through Water Mill, Wainscott, Sagaponack, and East Hampton.
In Montauk, Ditch Plain and Montauk Point State Park will see improvements too, and there will be improvements from Navajo Lane to Eton Road on Napeague and from Bluff Road to Dune Lane in Amagansett.
Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said yesterday that he is trying to come up with a plan for the village. He worked with Sinead FitzGibbon in 2005 to develop a bike route to connect cycle lanes in Southampton and East Hampton Towns to new lanes in the village. He encourages bicycles as transportation in general, but not through the village business district, due to safety concerns. The current bicycle route bypasses Main Street, bringing traffic down Long Island Avenue instead.
“In this changing time, we are all more interested in healthier lifestyles and in minimizing our use of fossil fuels. Bicycle riding for both sport and for transportation helps in both of these endeavors,” Theresa Quigley, an East Hampton Town councilwoman and liaison to the town’s bicycle committee, said in an e-mail.
“Our roads are not really bike friendly. . . . It was in this light that last year’s board began the committee,” she said. The East Hampton Town Bicycle Committee, formed in June of 2011, has nine members who serve a one-year term. All are bicycle enthusiasts who had worked on the idea prior to the town’s input, she said.
The committee makes recommendations to the town board regarding safety for bicyclists of all skill levels.
The town code states that it encourages bicycle use, both for transportation as well as for leisure activity, and the town included bicycles in its 2005 comprehensive traffic plan as an alternative means of transportation, and to both reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.
The East Hampton bicycle committee determined that the best way to begin was to focus on one discreet route, and, after considering routes in all the hamlets, it decided on one in Amagansett. The route begins at the train station, runs across Montauk Highway, down Atlantic Avenue, then crosses Bluff Road, and ends at the Atlantic Avenue beach.
Although it is a simple route, Ms. Quigley said that getting it done is very complicated. JoAnne Pahwul, the assistant planning director, has been responsible for working out the details with the committee, the State D.O.T., and the town attorney’s office to “pull together what we need to do to get the project finished,” Ms. Quigley said.
“We have a plan,” she said. “We have a willing highway superintendent, Stephen Lynch, who is merely awaiting our word and he will be ready to paint the [markings] along the approved route.” The town board has approved the route, the committee has commented positively on it, and the Parks and Recreation Department is working on building bicycle racks to install at the beach, Ms. Quigley wrote in an e-mail on Sunday.
“We are happy that New York State is finally moving forward on creating bike lanes,” she said. “It is an issue that is important to our community and our safety,” she said.