Seek Funding for Bike Lane

    How to make the Village of East Hampton safer for bicyclists and pedestrians was the primary topic at a village board work session last Thursday, when Paul Fiondella and Howard Lebwith, who had made a presentation  at the board’s April 4 work session, returned to make the case for bike-friendly streets.

    By adopting principles they outlined, the village would be “making the first small step toward a larger picture in the future of planning out how bicyclists and pedestrians can safely access and make their way through the village,” Mr. Fiondella said. The principles call for bicycle lanes to be located on public roads to promote an alternative to automobile use, reduced vehicle speed limits, warning signs for motorists, and clear lane markings.

    However, the proposals were not intended to suggest that every road in the village have a provision for bicycles, Mr. Fiondella said. Instead, he recommended two bike lanes be established, a route from the west or Sag Harbor and a north-south route that would connect with the beaches and schools.

    “If you think about starting off with two routes, you’re in a lot better shape than trying to think about every road in the village,” he said.

    The principles, Mr. Fionella said, could serve as an outline for a professional study with the goal of making changes. “Then, take the next baby step, which is to look for funding, and to look for an engineering and design firm,” he said, adding that he had researched and identified a few such firms.

    Becky Molinaro, the new village administrator, informed the board that she, along with Mr. Fiondella and Larry Cantwell, the outgoing village administrator, had met with Scott Fithian, the village superintendent of public works, to discuss the principles. She said there were two issues: “Whether the principles are acceptable to the board and, moving forward, more of a long-term, comprehensive overview of bicycles in the village. . . . There are some instances where they are not going to be feasible on certain village roads.”

    She also reported that she had already investigated funding. Referring to a State Department of Transportation grant, she said the application would be for a minimum of $200,000. “We don’t currently think that this would be a $200,000 planning project,” she said, adding, “We’re still looking for funding.”

    Safe roads would strengthen the economic well-being of the village, Mr. Fiondella said. “There’s going to be a flood of people coming out here who will use that form of transport if it’s safe, if it makes sense. This is not wasted money. If you appropriate this money, you’re doing a great deal for the future of this village. Somebody 50 years from now will look back and say, ‘This is the board that put us on the right path for the future of the village.’ ”

    “I’m optimistic that we can move ahead,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said.

    The League of American Bicyclists, Mr. Lebwith said, provides incentives, assistance, and recognition for communities that support bicycling. “My dream,” he said, is to see the league award the village its gold status “for being the bike-friendly community that it could be.” Mr. Lebwith is a member of East Hampton Town’s Bike Advisory Committee, and said he would take the principles to that committee’s next meeting.

    Barbara Borsack, a board member, said she agreed with the goals, but took exception with one of the general principles, which asks the village to consider expanding paved shoulders where bike lanes are not feasible.

 “I’m always against curbing, traffic lights, and additional paving. It makes us more urban,” she said. “I don’t want to see making roads any bigger or getting rid of grass. Other than that, I think it’s all good.”