Southold town's ban against for-profit bicycling events, prompted by some vocal residents and Supervisor Scott Russell, is hasty, short-sighted, and misinformed.
Event organizers pay permit fees for such events, so if overtaxing police resources is a concern, charge a higher permit fee for these events.
As any weekend visitor to the North Fork can attest, congestion is caused by cars, limos and buses touring the vineyards, farms, and quaint towns, all desirable destinations regardless of your mode of transportation. The claim from critics cited in your June 14 news story, "Braking the cycle," that “swarms of [cyclists] … congest the North Fork,” is almost as ridiculous as the statement that cyclists spend no money. In fact, studies suggest otherwise: Cycling events are a boon to the local economy. The 2009 "Bikes Belong Survey: The Size & Impact of Road Riding Events," by the Bikes Belong Coalition, a bicycle industry organization, states that riders spend $68 on average in addition to registration fees and donations.
Immediately after a recent organized bike event last month in Mattituck, my wife and her friend spent nearly $100 eating dinner at Love Lane Kitchen and tasting wine at Shinn Estate Vineyards. With nearly 10,000 annual attendees of these events spending around $68 each in local businesses, the Southold elected officials are banning upwards of half a million dollars per year. I’ll bet that many North Fork businesses would support more of these events if they knew these numbers.
Paul Martorano, Medford
I am disappointed in Southold’s decision to ban for-profit companies from getting any more special event permits.
The North Fork has some of Long Island’s most picturesque scenery and it is best appreciated while on a bike with fellow riders.
Having just returned from a weeklong vacation in the Southwest, where cyclists are appreciated and even encouraged by motorists and shop owners, this feels like quite a slap in the face. The reasons given are total bunk, and make me feel unwelcome and unwilling to take my bike out there in the future.
Cyclists don’t clog roads. Limos full of half-drunk, middle-aged people on wine-tasting tours are what clog North Fork roads.
And if cyclists don't spend money on the North Fork, then could I please have the $28 I spent on a post-ride dinner at O’Mally’s promptly returned to me?
Frank Donato, Coram
I was disappointed to read about Southold’s ban on more for-profit bike events.
A reason cited was that cyclists ride two and three abreast. State traffic law permits bicyclists to ride two abreast on a roadway and more than two abreast on a shoulder or bike lane so long as sufficient space is available.
Another complaint was that a driver had to wait to make a right turn because cyclists were riding on the roadway. State law gives cyclists all of the rights applicable to the driver of a vehicle. The fact that a driver had to wait while cyclists rode lawfully is not a rational basis for enacting an anti-cycling policy.
On the whole, my fellow cyclists and I are responsible, polite and law abiding. I cannot understand why Southold has chosen to discriminate against us for lawfully riding our bicycles.
Glenn P. Warmuth, Medford
I am an avid cyclist and environmentalist who has enjoyed cycling in the North Fork. When I heard about the new Southold rule, I was dismayed.
These events, such as the North Fork Century, do their best to pump funds into the local economy. There are also other benefits: Cyclists bring families and loved ones to cheer them on and explore the North Fork. Cyclists spend money at local businesses. And most important, cycling is good for our health and our environment.
Since I started riding, I’ve lost a ton of weight and decreased my dependence on fossil fuels. Better health, cleaner air and water, and more money for local economies. What’s not to like?
Abraham Greene, Brooklyn