BY KEN VALENTI • KLVALENT@LOHUD.COM • NOVEMBER 18, 2009
Should motorists be required to give bicycle riders a 3-foot buffer when driving past them?
Two state legislators — Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin — say yes, and plan to gather support for bills to introduce in January.
The idea was spurred by the Nov. 6 death of Greenburgh cyclist Merrill Cassell. The proposal was praised by cyclists, but others said it would be an obstacle for motorists.
“This is great news,” David Wilson, president of the Westchester Cycle Club, said Tuesday. “It just establishes a certain right for the cyclists to have this position on the side of the road and that the cars have to accommodate that.”
Several motorists said — mostly in e-mails and an Internet forum — the rule would be unworkable and cyclists should be barred from some roads. On many roads, they said, there isn’t room for a 3-foot buffer.
“If I’m going to give them a 3-foot buffer, I’m going to be pushed into oncoming traffic,” Jennifer Oliver of Mahopac said.
Paulin and Stewart-Cousins said the idea fits with efforts to get more people riding bicycles.
“But we’ve obviously got to make things safe,”said Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
Paulin, D-Scarsdale, said people might be frightened to cycle on the roads after hearing about Cassell, who was sideswiped by a bus.
“We need to do something so people have confidence again,” she said.
Motorists and cyclists some- times clash over the use of roads, each pointing to bad behavior on part of the others.
Oliver said she was stuck driving 5 mph behind 10 to 15 cyclists on CrotonFalls Road in Mahopac. They saw her but did not pull over for some two miles, she said. When they did clear a way, one cyclist shot in front of her just after a light turned green, she said.
“I could have hit him,” she said. “I never saw him coming. It was just ridiculous.”
Wilson said such behavior bothers him, too.
“I get very upset at some cyclists who don’t stick to the side of the road,” he said. “If there’s a car behind you, you have to get to the side of the road and let the car get by.”