BY ROBERT KNIGHT
Due to increasing use of public lands for both bicycles and motorized sports vehicles and the imminent opening of the bike path on the New Tappan Zee, the Town of Orangetown has decided to try and gauge residents opinions about biking on local streets and parks. With many residents attempting to expand such usage on local roads and through town, village, county and state parklands, an equal number seem frustrated with the lycra-clad crowds of cyclists riding two abreast on Rte 9W, Western Highway and roads around Clausland Mountain leading to the thriving cafe culture of Nyack and Piermont.
While there is no doubt who wins and who loses in a conflict between a car and a bike, and calls for motorists to “share the road” are common, the public is clearly concerned about the potential hazard cyclists create for themselves sometimes and sometimes for pedestrians and motorists, as well. Working with the Non-Profit Parks & Trails New York group, Orangetown is now circulating a three-page questionnaire hoping to reach as many residents as possible to capture their viewpoints on bicycling in Orangetown.
The study, paid for by a grant from the Thuway Authority, will also inventory local roads and make recommendations for safety improvements for all vehicles. A survey can be filled out electronically via the town’s website, or obtained by calling the Supervisor Andy Stewart’s office at 359-5100 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. A stack of the three-page survey is also available in the lobby of the Orangetown Town Hall at 26 Orangeburg Road in Orangeburg. The website for the form and the entire bike study is located at www.orangetown.com/bikestudy.
The website features an interactive map enabling townsfolk to report the specific locations of road hazards, opportunities to improve safety, and other comments. Residents (and non-residents) can mail the completed form to Town of Orangetown, Attn: Bike Study, 26 Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg, N.Y. 10962 or scan the form and email it to “Supervisor@Orangetown.com.
“Tell us how you think biking in Orangetown can be improved,” the questionnaire begins. “This survey shouldn’t the longer than five minutes.” The first question concerns residency, asking if the respondent is a town resident, someone who lives elsewhere but works in Orangetown, visits Orangetown regularly, or is “other.”
The second question concerns biking experience, wanting to know if the respondent considers themself to be “strong and fearless,” “enthused and confident’,” “interested but concerned’,” or “No way, no how” to biking in Orangetown.
Next the survey seeks the respondent’s three favorite biking destinations (inside or outside of Orangetown), followed by a sentence describing (regardless of whether they are bikers or non-bikers) “the three top challenges you face with respect to bicycling in Orangetown.”
Question 5 seeks opinions on six concerns bikers have expressed, with reactions ranging to each with “very concerned to not concerned at all.” The six topics concern the availability of cycling facilities such as bike lanes and multi-use trails, the availability of bike parking in Orangetown, the signage and way finding to key destinations, motorists not sharing the rod, traffic control management of large groups of cyclists and”other” with a request to more fully describe that concern.
Questions 6 through 12 are mostly demographic in nature, seeking the respondents home zip coe, age range gender, race and ethnicity, if the use public transportation in Orangetown, including Transport of Rockland, Tappan Zee Express and/or New Jersey Transit. The final question asks if the respondent supports or opposes public funding for improved bicycle safety.