Town Asks Court to Stop For-Profit Bike Ride

Safety, congestion, and inadequate notice cited
Durell Godfrey

Ride to Montauk, a planned Manhattan-to-Montauk bicycle trip on Saturday encountered a pothole this week when both East Hampton Town and East Hampton Village denied permits for the event.

Concerned that it would nevertheless occur, the East Hampton Town Board sent Michael Sendlenski, an assistant town attorney, to State Supreme Court in Riverhead on Thursday to seek a temporary restraining order. The judge is expected to annouce a decision on Friday.

The ride is organized by Glen Goldstein of Bicycle Shows U.S. According to its permit application, 5,000 riders were originally estimated but the number was revised by the organizers, who estimated 3,400 would come through East Hampton Town.

A permit to gather at a staging area near the Long Island Rail Road station in East Hampton Village was denied Thursday morning by Becky Molinaro, the village administrator.

In turning down permits, town and village officials expressed concern about the numbers of riders, road safety and congestion, and a lack of adequate notice.

The application for a permit was initially submitted by Mr. Goldstein on May 12, despite a town requirement that mass-gathering permits be obtained at least 30 days in advance. A town permit review committee, which includes police and the town board, had “multiple issues with the permit,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Thursday.

Southampton Town had also found the  ride organizers’ plans troubling at first, turning down a request for a permit to allow 2,500 riders to pass through that town. However, after an appeal was filed with the town’s Public Safety Commission but before a hearing could be held, an offer was made to reduce the number of riders to 1,500, according to Tiffany Scarlato, the Southampton town attorney. A permit was issued.

Depending on the route cyclists take, they pay between $100 and $300 for the ride, which was founded in 1997. Options are for 150, 108, 73, 70, and 30-mile rides, starting in New York City, Babylon, Mastic-Shirley, or East Hampton.

All rides are to end at Camp Hero State Park in Montauk, where an all-you-can-eat meal, free massages, hot showers, beer, and transportation back to the starting points are offered. Refreshments are normally provided at rest stops along the way, including in Water Mill and Amagansett.

The route through East Hampton was to wind through most of the town, from Sag Harbor and Northwest to Three Mile Harbor, Springs, and Amagansett, said Carole Brennan, the town clerk.

On May 15, three days after submitting an application to the town, Mr. Goldstein was informed that as a for-profit entity, Bicycle Shows U.S. had to apply for a commercial mass gathering permit. That application was submitted last Thursday, Ms. Brennan said.

The “multiple miles of road they were going to make use of . . . created all kinds of strategic and safety issues, and police issues as well,” Mr. Cantwell said.

The town sought the restraining order because officials feared a “chaotic situation” if the ride went forward as planned.

While registration for such an event is normally begun well in advance, he added, “We’re getting all of this information very late in the process.” The 30-day lead time for permits, he said, is designed to allow adequate review  time, if needed, to “work out the details in advance, as opposed to coming in with a fait accompli.”

Had the bike ride been for fewer people, or routed only along main roads, a permit might have been approved, Mr. Cantwell said.