Permit denials jeopardize Ride to Montauk bike event this weekend

Participants in the 2011 Ride to Montauk at

Participants in the 2011 Ride to Montauk at a stop at the Westhampton Presbyterian Church in Westhampton Beach, in June 2011. Photo Credit: George Nicholas

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Citing concerns over safety and traffic, East Hampton Town and East Hampton Village have denied permits for a popular bicycle ride from Manhattan to Montauk less than a week before the event.

The Ride to Montauk, which has drawn as many as 3,000 bicyclists in recent years, is scheduled to start at Penn Station at 5 a.m. tomorrow, when some bicyclists will begin a 150-mile journey to Montauk. Other riders are set to join at Babylon, Shirley and East Hampton.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the town denied the permit because the organizers, Bicycle Shows U.S., did not have insurance, did not get police approval and failed to meet other requirements.

Company officials said they met last week with East Hampton Town Police to discuss logistics and are also insured. Attorneys for the town and the organizer met yesterday in Riverhead before State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hazlitt Emerson but did not settle the issue. They are scheduled to return today.

"I feel pretty confident there is going to be a ride on Saturday," said Glen Goldstein, the owner of Bicycle Shows U.S. "I just don't know what it's going to look like yet."

Goldstein said Cantwell informed him of the denial Tuesday. At a special meeting Wednesday, the East Hampton Town Board directed the town's attorneys to seek a court order stopping the ride.

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East Hampton Village denied organizers a permit Thursday morning due to "concerns because of the late submission of the application and the proposed size of the event," said village administrator Rebecca Molinaro. She said the organizers applied about a week ago.

Stephen Grossman, the Sag Harbor attorney representing Bicycle Shows U.S., said the notice denying the ride was too late.

"They can't do this two days before an event, when many, many people are coming from different places," Grossman said. "That's not nice."

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Goldstein said about 2,000 riders are signed up. Southampton Town initially denied Bicycle Shows U.S. a permit to allow about 3,000 riders, but after negotiations said it would allow 1,500 riders, said Southampton Town Police Sgt. Todd Bennett.

"It's a great event and everything, but it's gotten too big for the area," he said.

Goldstein said he organized a 70-mile loop within East Hampton for some riders in order to comply with Southampton's limit.

The Ride to Montauk has gone on in some form for 49 years, Goldstein said. He said he has organized it for the past 16 years, during which time there have been no deaths or serious accidents.

"We just want to ride bikes," said Goldstein, of upstate Narrowsburg.

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