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Active Transportation in Syosset/Woodbury

Active transportation in Syosset/Woodbury

The weekend I moved to Woodbury almost 17 years ago from NYC, I put my baby Jake in a carrier and walked to Woodbury Commons to get a cup of coffee.  More than one misguided, but well meaning neighbor stopped me to offer a ride.  I have no doubt that my new neighbors' intent was to be welcoming and kind.  But, to rescue someone from walking on a beautiful day struck me as absurd.  Nobody offers me rides anymore.  Everyone in town is used to the sight of me walking, running or if I'm very lucky cross country skiing with sometimes as many as 4 kids and my dog in tow.

Obviously active transportation, which refers to any human-powered transportation such as walking, running, biking, skating and even skateboarding is not a new idea. When I was a kid, even though my parents gave me plenty of rides, just as often I walked or took my bike.  Active transportation gave me a sense of freedom. Not long ago, I spoke to a group of seniors from Jericho High School.  I asked them how many had a bike, (all) and how many had ridden it in the last week (none). They told me bike riding was too dangerous. I told them I think sitting on the couch is even more dangerous.

Sometimes I joke with my oldest son that I feel I am raising him like a veal. I am always giving him permission to walk places even when he would much prefer a ride. When did walking to your friends house, which was pretty standard behavior when I was growing up, become viewed as reckless behavior? Why if I walk to Stop & Shop do you assume my car is in the shop? Why is using active transportation so frowned upon in the suburbs?

Of course I want my kids to be safe.  I also want them to be independent, self reliant and physically active. Allowing them to get places on their own steam accomplishes all of these things.

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Sue January 14, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I guess those of us who grew up in the city walked everywhere or rode our bikes. Our parents weren't our primary source of transportation. When I moved here 20 years ago and had kids, they played "out front." We grew up playing on the street and sitting on the stoop! No one does that here. Long Islanders, I find, are very insular. One of the first things my mother said when I showed her our potential new home was, "You can't buy that house. It doesn't have a front stoop."
Madeleine Berg January 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Sue, when I moved here I was completely charmed by the streets without sidewalks, it never occurred to me that when there are few sidewalks there are few walkers!
Papa Tom January 16, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Growing up in Syosset in the 60's and 70's, I rode my bike everywhere; not just around town, but as far away as Roosevelt Field, Eisenhower Park, and the Walt Whitman Mall. These days, at 50 years old, I commute to work every day during the warm season and use a bike for as many errands as possible. Yes, I can relate to the odd looks and comments you receive, Madeleine. A driver I passed on the road every morning for several months and eventually got to meet confessed after a few conversations that he always assumed I'd lost my driver's license after a DWI ! "Why would you ride a bike to work otherwise?" he asked. I have to admit that, if I weren't so familiar with the ins and outs of the roads I have ridden for the past forty years or so, I might not be as confident and relaxed on my bike as I am now. Negotiating these widened and re-widened streets - especially when they are full of teenagers, soccer moms, and stressed out commuters staring at their cell phones while whizzing by at 45-50mph - can be a little disarming for someone whose skin has not yet thickened! In case you aren't aware, the bike lanes on Southwoods Road are almost ready to open. It will still be a scary, dangerous road to ride, but if your nerves can handle the stress, these will take you all the way to the new Bethpage Bikeway extension, which picks up at Woodbury Road.
Madeleine Berg January 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Tom thanks for sharing that hilarious story. I'm on Southwoods Road all the time, how could I have missed the bike lanes?
Papa Tom January 17, 2013 at 01:24 AM
>>>>I'm on Southwoods Road all the time, how could I have missed the bike lanes?<<<< They are part of the Bethpage Bikeway Extension, which was gifted to us, in large part, by the creative thinking of Senator Carl Marcellino. When funding became available more than a decade ago for bikeways that connect with public transportation, Sen Marcellino put the NYSDOT on it and they came up with a plan to extend the bikeway from Bethpage State Park to the Syosset LIRR station. The initial route used a safer, more off-road right-of-way, but when money became tighter in the 2000's, the DOT modified the plan to include a few miles of on-road bike lanes. From Woodbury Road, the lanes proceed up Piquets Lane and onto Southwoods Road. Those signs you see covered up along Southwoods Road read "Bike Lane" under the plastic bags. I'm not sure why the lanes haven't officially opened yet. perhaps it's because the off-road portion of the bikeway isn't 100% complete yet.
Madeleine Berg January 17, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Thanks Tom. I thought the path started on Woodbury Road, I didn't realize it was going to be this far North. If anything could be done to make Woodbury Road North of Jericho Turnpike less treacherous that would be a miracle.
Papa Tom January 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM
>>>I thought the path started on Woodbury Road,<<<< Yes, the path DOES start on Woodbury Road. The on-road lanes are just a means to connect it with the Syosset train station, thus fulfilling the requirements of the funding. I don't think it's going to encourage a whole lot of people to bike to the train station, but the upside is that we got ourselves a beautiful bike path and some roadways that are a little more bike-friendly. Hopefully, some money will become available in the near future to utilize the old Rt. 135 right-of-way (as originally planned) to make more of the extension off-road.
Madeleine Berg January 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM
I am highly motivated to ride my bike to the train. Logistically, I would have to get a commuter bike, an excellent lock, something to carry my stuff in and clothes that are appropriate for biking and wrk. I think I can do this!
Papa Tom January 17, 2013 at 12:51 PM
The initial plan was to install bike lockers at the station. I'm not sure if this is still going to happen. If you are interested in commuting by bicycle, contact me directly and I will turn you on to a forum just for bike commuters.
Papa Tom January 20, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Better yet, here's the exact link... http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php/20-Commuting
Madeleine Berg January 20, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Thanks for the link.

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