Shared Use Path Opens New Routes for Rockland Bicycling Club

BY JANIE ROSMAN

An easier commute to work awaits New City resident Mike Benowitz.

“It will be interesting to figure out how to get to White Plains from Rockland,” Benowitz said. “It can take up to an hour to get from White Plains to the bridge at 5 p.m.”

He’s also looking forward to new cycling routes with the Rockland Bicycling Club. “It will be nice to cycle across the bridge, go to Bear Mountain and then down to Route 9W,” he said.

Last month members of the Rockland Bicycling Club (www.RocklandBike.org) met with project officials in Nyack to learn more about the path, belvederes and possible solutions for parking cars near the Rockland terminus of the path.

Benowitz has been following the project and felt the meeting was informative.

“We learned about parking for the terminus and the addition of off-street parking and metered parking,” he said. One part that surprised him, he said, was hearing that any addition to residential parking no matter how necessary — such as the Village of Nyack issuing residential parking permits — needs approval from the state legislature.

RBC has a longstanding relationship with project officials.

“This was one of our regular check-ins,” Spring Valley resident Rita Joachim said of the five-member meeting. “Our input about the path and its amenities is considered; it’s exciting to have a role in the planning and the vision.”

Her interest in the shared use path remained steady since the earliest meetings where design ideas for a new bridge were introduced to the public. “It will be suitable for bicycle riders, pedestrians, and runners (and) distinctly separate from motorists,” Joachim said of the 12-foot-wide path.

Joachim was on the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Panel of representatives from bicycle groups, to the bridge and planning and transportation professionals. They looked at existing facilities, and considered like options for the new bridge.

“The New NY Bridge project team continues to meet with local residents and groups like the Rockland Bicycle club to discuss the exciting addition of a shared-use bike/pedestrian path on the new bridge and the parking options currently being considered.  We encourage bikers, runners, and everyone who has an interest in the project to visit our website at NewNYBridge.com and give us their input on the parking proposals.” – Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare

More than two hundred strong, the club was founded in 2002 by Nyack natives David Schloss and Foster Bass.

The club promotes safe, lawful bicycling and encourages everyone to ride bikes more often for fun, transportation and fitness. Members are active in the community and have been part of People to People’s “Dear Santa” letters program, building and donating hundreds of bikes and helmets to children. The club has also helped some Girl Scouts with their bike repair and distribution projects for People to People.

Its annual RBC Three Bridges Century event is a 100-mile ride east that crosses the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Walkway Over the Hudson, and Bear Mountain Bridge. “We’re hoping once the new bridge is completed to create a RBC Four Bridges Century ride and include it,” Benowitz said.

A ride is scheduled for July although no date has been set.

“We visited a few bridges and The Highline before it was completed, and gained an appreciation of engineering considerations from the professionals. The bike, pedestrian and community groups contributed their insights to the design ideas,” she said, recalling a cold trek across the George Washington Bridge.

She felt new issues surfaced when the corridor project was scrapped. “There was a great deal of time and thought given to the project the way it was originally conceived,” she said. Disappointed that fast-tracking the project means Rockland’s disparate neighborhoods remain unconnected, she felt it’s promising for bicyclists and walkers.

Patrolled by state police and maintained by the Thruway Authority, the path will have emergency call boxes at all six belvederes and both landings. A 16-member Visual Quality Panel focused on bridge aesthetics for the shared use path — belvederes, landscaping, art, historic/cultural installations, lighting — and heard community input.

“The bridge officials are listening to what residents say and they’re interested in providing facilities residents. The SUP — and its connections to Rockland’s residents and streets — can be sensible, attractive and pragmatic,” Joachim said.

For information about RBC email rocklandbike@gmail.com.