“Right now, you could never get me to ride a bike on Sound Avenue,” said Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson.
He said the speed of the drivers on that road and the narrowness of its shoulders contribute to his decision.
But the chairman of the East End Transportation Council hopes to convince Riverhead and other East End towns to adopt practices that would make Sound Avenue — and many other streets — a lot friendlier for bike riders.
Tom Neely, the council’s chair, is urging towns to adopt the “complete streets” program, which aims to make all streets better able to accommodate a multitude of users, including cars, public transportation, cyclists and pedestrians.
“The complete streets concept essentially says that when you’re looking at roadway and roadway-related improvements, you should try to accommodate not only cars and trucks, but also public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists or anyone who may want to use the transportation network,” Mr. Neely said. He admitted that it’s a “unique challenge” to do this in more rural areas where public transportation is less cost effective than it is in big cities.
He said statistics show that 48 percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities happen on local streets, not major highways, and that 12 percent of those involve bikes or pedestrians.
One suggestion is to shrink the driving portion of the roads and increase the size of the road shoulder.
Mr. Woodson said roads where drivers frequently exceed the speed limit are more worn out than roads where speed limits are usually observed.
He suggested narrowing Sound Avenue’s 12-foot-wide travel lanes to 10 feet, the minimum allowed by law. This would both slow down traffic and provide wider and safer shoulders for bikers and pedestrians.
He said one lane on Mill Road is 16 feet wide and should be reduced to 10.
The town has about $3 million in road infrastructure grant money that can be used for such road improvements, according to community development director Chris Kempner, who said the funds came from the Federal Recovery Act, she said.
Hotel gets to spread out fee.
The Town Board informally agreed last Thursday to allow the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, formerly known as Atlantis Marine World, to spread out a $183,000 sewer connection fee in four segments, paying three installments of $50,000 each covering the balance with the final payment. The new hotel and exhibition center will be built in four phases and each will have its own certificate of occupancy. An opening date of July 1 has already been advertised for its butterflies and birds exhibit, which will feature more than 30 species of butterflies and 20 different types of birds.
“They are under tremendous pressure to acquire a temporary certificate of occupancy and the main thing that seems to be holding it up is the sewer connection fee,” town building inspector Sharon Klos told Town Board members last Thursday.
In addition to the exhibition center, the complex also will feature a new 100-room Hyatt Place hotel and a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 450 people.
“We’re moving heaven and earth to do everything we can on Main Street and this is one of those things that we have to do,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in agreeing to spread out the fee.
“As soon as we get people staying in the hotel rooms, the sooner we get the foot traffic up and down Main Street to support our businesses,” Councilman Jodi Giglio added.
Mardi Gras is coming
Town officials released details this week about the Mardi Gras festival scheduled for Aug. 6 in downtown Riverhead. Organized by the Business Improvement District, the event will run from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will feature New Orleans style-music, a parade down Main Street, bands, stilt walkers, face painters and Cajun food. Local restaurants will be coached by Cajun cooks from New Orleans and will offer dishes like jambalaya, crawfish and “dirty rice,” officials said.
There will be two stages for the scheduled performers, which include the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Dikki Du and his Zydeco Crewe, the Jambalaya Brass Band, the Who Dat Loungers, Gene Casey & the Lone Sharks, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, The Buzzards and local blues artist Tommy Keys.
BID members hope to make the Mardi Gras festival an annual event
“The Mardi Gras Festival will be another family-friendly, fun event that will bring excitement to our downtown,” Mr. Walter said in a press release.
The Mardi Gras parade, led by the Stilt Band, will start at noon at the Suffolk County Historical Society and march east to McDermott Avenue. Officials said people are encouraged to march with their dogs. The press release made no mention of bead-throwing.