Bicycle Regulations In Rockaway
Bicycles and Rockaway. You would think that combination would be like motherhood and apple pie, yet unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of controversy on the subject. Rockaway should be a bike friendly community, especially on the west end during the summer when restrictive parking should make other modes of transportation more attractive. Instead, people complain that bike riders on the boardwalk should be ticketed and shared bike lanes are a bad idea. Let's take a moment to look at each of these issues.
The Parks Department has recently relaxed the biking restrictions on the boardwalk, but riders are still being set-up to break the rules when traveling east on Rockaway Beach Boulevard then South on Beach 126 Street to the Boardwalk. If they happen to be riding on weekends and holidays, they will be breaking NYC Parks regulations and subject to a ticket. This is ludicrous. The only rules regarding bikes on the boardwalk, or skaters, skateboarders, runners, etc. is safe and reasonable. Everyone should get the right to share the boardwalk all the time, whether they are walking or riding as long as they are doing so in a way that does not put the safety of others at risk. I am sure that most NYPD and Parks Enforcement folks are capable of deciding what's safe and reasonable.
On a related matter, there has been a bit of a fuss over shared bike lanes on the Boulevard. In the July 10, 2009 edition of The Wave there was an editorial about a bike rider who seemed to be hogging the road and slowing down traffic for blocks. sympathize with the drivers of those cars behind that discourteous bike rider, but getting rid of shared bike lanes isn't the answer. Haven't we all been stuck behind slow drivers in the left lane on the freeway? Bikes don't have the monopoly on bad drivers.
To the best of my knowledge, bicycles cannot be legally ridden on the sidewalk, so the only other place they can be ridden is on the street. So whether there are bike lane logos painted on the street or not, all single lane roads must be shared by cars and bikes. The concept of marking these shared lanes with painted bike symbols is intended as a reminder to drivers that bikes have (and have always had) a right to be there too. When the situation arises when a car wants to overtake a bike, the bike rider should move over as far right as possible and the car should pass at reasonable speed and distance. This is not rocket science folks. Sure, there will always be some drivers and riders who won't get it. But that doesn't mean it's a bad system. What's the alternative?
Whether it's riding on the boardwalk or sharing lanes on the Boulevard, all we need is a little mutual respect, courtesy and common sense. What we don't need is more lane closures, rules, regulations and tickets. Let's all act in a safe, responsible and dare I say, neighborly way. Finally, the next time you are about to jump in your car to run some local errands, Letters think about how you will be helping your body, wallet and the environment by hopping on your bike instead.