Space for bicycles

Editor's Corner

Author: Mark Roland
Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Ultimate Yard Sale at Stormville was held a few weeks back despite dark gray skies and intermittent rain. Hundreds of people showed up to unload various and sundry things they no longer need or, at least as likely, never needed in the first place. Chances are good that the people buying will be selling at some point down the road. We all seem to have too much stuff, myself  included.


I have a weakness for practical bicycles from the 1970s and 80s. I wouldn’t say I collect them per se, but I do seem to have several more bikes than the average person might find useful. Not long ago I bought a beautiful tandem made by Follis, a French company that specialized in bicycles built for two. At the Ultimate in Stormville, I snagged a late 80s Schwinn CrissCross, a well-made steel hybrid that was dirty and needed some gear adjustment but was a deal for $20. I was already riding my folding Raleigh, so I grabbed the handlebar stem and towed it to my car.


I use my bicycles to get around whenever I can. I have one set up for shopping, with fenders, panniers and a front wire basket. I’m lucky to be within commuting distance of my job. For that, I often take my 1981 Schwinn Le Tour Tourist. This bike has what some people call a “girls” frame, but it’s actually a “mixte” or unisex bike. The practicality of this style comes into play whenever you have something on the back, such as groceries or a baby. Instead of swinging your leg up and over, you step through the frame.


Despite the utility of bicycles as transportation around the world, here in the United States they are often still perceived as children’s toys or as a recreational vehicle for adults in tight lycra. Already this spring, as I was coming home from the office one evening, someone yelled “That’s what sidewalks are for!” as they buzzed by me on 9D just south of the Newburgh-Beacon bridge.


In an effort to help educate motorists to the fact that bicycles are by law considered vehicles (and are illegal to operate on most sidewalks), Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, has authored a bill intended to strengthen protection of cyclists riding on public roads. The proposed legislation would require the driver of a vehicle to travel at least three feet to the left of a cyclist traveling with the flow of traffic. Fifteen other states have a similar law already on the books.


Sections of the bicycle laws already on the books that all drivers should be familiar with:


Section 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skates lanes and bicycle or in-line skates paths.


(a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skates shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skates lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skates lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates,pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.


Section 1146. Drivers to exercise due care.


Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. For the purposes of this section, the term “domestic animal” shall mean domesticated sheep, cattle and goats which are under the supervision and control of a pedestrian.


A word to motorists: Patience. Imagine the cyclist you pass is someone you care about—a daughter, a brother, a father. Someone you know likes to ride a bicycle, and depends on the kindness of strangers in 2,000-pound vehicles. Use your signals, slow down, wait till it’s safe to pass. Cyclists, don’t flaunt traffic rules.


Our profile subject this month, triathlete Pam Neimeth of Milan, is building up to 100-plus mile rides on the bike in preparation for an Iron Man later this year. She has her own way of dealing with unruly traffic. "Motorists around here are not that happy to see people on bikes," she says. So she takes her rig to the back roads of eastern Dutchess County, where she encounters fewer cars and enjoys the scenery.


Even if you are not the outdoors type, summer is not the time you want to spend doing housework or dealing with clutter. In “Beach House Makeover,” interior designer Elizabeth Strianese of Beacon offers advice on how to achieve a clean, low-maintenance design for easy shore living that can be applied to any home. Go to to see our videos featuring more home design and decorating tips from Liz.


While you’re on our website, get a sneak preview of next month’s Hudson Valley Life profile with John Voelcker. John is a writer specializing in alternate automotive fuel technologies. The feature will discuss current options and will answer the question: What is powered by over 6,000 cell phone batteries and goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds?

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