Bike lanes? We’ve got ‘em!…One.


Matt White

While I appreciate the idea of there being dedicated space for our biped brothers and sisters, what exactly is the point of having only one designated “bike lane” at an intersection that historically has had that space reserved for motorists making a right turn north onto Silver at East Main? It seems unnecessary and confusing, especially given the amount of traffic that busy intersection sees being adjacent to downtown’s only gas station. No slight to bicyclists, but to me and others in the community I’ve spoken with about it–it seems like a per usual, ill-planned and half cocked idea. The City’s traffic commission (or whomever) should either embrace the idea of accommodating bicycle lanes with a sweeping execution throughout the entire City at all major intersections, or scrap the idea altogether. How awesome would it have been to have a paved bike rail trail that (much like the on in Vestal) travels from the north side of the city to the south plaza or even WalMart?
That railway has not been used since the spring flooding of 2006, and when a group of rail trail proponents addressed the Industrial Development Agency about creating a rail-trail the entire length of the unused railway—the IDA turned a blind eye to envisioning anything other than re-establishing the railway and their vision of heavy industry returning in Chenango County. Even though there were no local customers for the railway service when the trains stopped running 10 years ago, and even though there are no current or expected customers, the IDA has been unable to envision tourism as an industry that should be a part of their mission for the use of the railway corridor, which they own.
I spoke with Tom Holmes who was one of the community members advocating for the mixed use trail, and have to agree with his position that it’s ” not only sad, but also very unfortunate that they are unable to see the use of that corridor as a major attraction for young people who are interested in active transportation and living in a small community. I believe that it is a major opportunity lost to help re-vitalize our community.”
Not only would a rail trail have made commuting through the city more enjoyable for pedestrians, cyclists and health enthusiasts, it also would have addressed another ticking scenario: those who walk the unlit shoulders of Highway 12 in the dark of night to get to the only major department store in the Town of Norwich.
Many of these people are working poor who cannot afford transportation. And with the City/county’s dismal excuse for public transportation, these unlucky and less-than-fortunate have absolutely no alternative but to walk along a unlit, two-lane stretch of highway to buy their staples. Often pushing strollers. No side walks. Not even a “pedestrian” sign.
While creating precarious situation where 3,000 lb machines, bicyclists and pedestrians all meet just seems like a bad idea, and it’s only a matter of time before someone is physically hurt— lacking the foresight to make the types of enhancements other small communities are embracing is likewise damaging.
I feel it’s an absolute shame that our county’s leaders are more invested in the bleak possibility of future industry than the present safety and good of the public that has historically been dealt the dirty end of the stick by said industry, leaving them and their families high and dry whenever is was possible to make a buck elsewhere outside of the County.

News flash: tourism is a viable industry. How many people come to town for the Turkey Trot, Allegro Run for the Arts, and Colorscapes Color Dash?

Let me know when the County makes a dollar from that restored railway.