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Babylon Village committee looks to improve biking opportunities

Babylon Village trustee Robyn Silvestri accompanies her children,

Babylon Village trustee Robyn Silvestri accompanies her children, from left, Gianna, 10, Lenny, 10, and Sophia, 11, as they ride their bikes to school through Southards Pond Park in Babylon Monday. Credit: Barry Sloan

May is National Bike Month, and a new advisory committee hopes to enhance the bicycling infrastructure in Babylon Village as a countywide hike and bike master plan is also being crafted.

Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino tapped trustee Robyn Silvestri to lead the committee, tasked with evaluating biking opportunities and recommending ways to improve conditions for riders.

“We’re trying to create a safe environment for bicycle riding in the village,” Scordino said.

The committee, made up of Silvestri, who bicycles regularly with her four children, another resident, a village code enforcement officer and owner of the Babylon Bike Shop, will analyze existing bike routes and see what’s missing.

Silvestri hopes to add two more people to the committee, which she expects to meet monthly, and is seeking input from residents via phone calls to Village Hall, or messages to the village’s Facebook page.

The committee will study things such as the location of bike racks and street crossings throughout the village.

An approximate 6-mile bike trail loops between Argyle Lake and Belmont Lake — a route Silvestri and her children ride — but there’s no bike lanes on Babylon’s streets.

“We’re not at this point looking to put in bike lanes,” Silvestri said. “But we’re looking to improve the safety of biking in the village.”

She recently attended a forum about connecting pedestrians to mass transit and said, “I’d like to see how biking fits into that. It adds a level of accessibility to our village.”

Jonathan Keyes, director of downtown and transit-oriented development for Suffolk County, also wants to see villages and towns better connect their downtowns and train stations with nearby waterfronts.

He is heading up the county’s Hike and Bike Master Plan, which also hopes to find gaps in the hiking and biking infrastructure, and with public input develop a plan by the end of the year to fill the gaps.

People can visit to view a map and offer tips for connecting trails and paths.

“It’s great for someone like Babylon Village to take proactive steps and form a bike committee,” Keyes said. “They’re a great example … they’ve got a lot of incredible assets that are separated by a distance that’s a little further than a comfortable walking distance.”

He noted Babylon is like Bay Shore and Patchogue in that their train stations are at least a mile away from the waterfront.

With good biking infrastructure — either street bike lanes, off-road bike paths or other safe biking routes — connecting different areas of a community becomes easier.

 Silvestri said she feels the village is already safe to bike around, but with her kids biking everywhere, from the pizza place to the village pool, there are risks.

“Every time you ride anywhere on the street, you’re always concerned about people texting and driving,” she said. 

The still-forming committee has already received input from residents “where they saw weak points for pedestrians and bikes,” Silvestri said.

 “I’m excited about it,” she said. “Anything that brings our community out and into our downtown is awesome.”

Did you know . . .

  • National Bike to Work Week 2019 is May 13-19
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 836,569 people nationwide commuted to work by bicycle in 2017
  • The League of American Bicyclists, a national advocacy group, ranked New York No. 23 in bicycle friendly states

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