Friday, October 02, 2009

Mountain Bike Hearings at Minnewaska: and New Laws to Protect Peds, Cyclists

The authorities in charge of Lake Minnewaska, near New Paltz, NY will be holding hearings this month regarding use of the recreational park by mountain bike riders.

The State Park Preserve master plan hearings will be be held on Thursday, October 22, at 7 pm, Lecture Center, Room 100 at SUNY New Paltz,  according to a report by the New York Bicycling Coalition.

In the current master plan,  which is signed by Jim Hall, executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission-- the same person who heads the New Jersey section of the Palisades from Fort Lee to Alpine, NJ; and by Carol Ash, the commissioner of New York State parks, the role of bicycles is clearly addressed but it is not clear which trails they will continue to be allowed to ride on--and which trails will become off limits.

Persons may provide comments at the hearing or in writing no later than the end of the comment period – November 13, 2009. You can also email them with your comments to Minnewaska.Plan@oprhp.state.ny.u s., but my guess is that being there is better.
In the master plan they write:

In general, the existing trails system in the Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting areas meets the needs of the diversity of trail users while remaining compatible with the resources of the Preserve. Some modifications to the trails system are considered appropriate including designation of trails on recent acquisition properties and developing some re-routes and connector trails to improve visitor circulation and access to resources in the Preserve.

Awosting Reserve
• Develop multi-use (hiking, biking, equestrian) trail system utilizing woods/logging road for the
short term
• Develop single track, multi-use trail system for long term hiking, biking and equestrian use
• Expand parking area along Aumick Road including spaces for horse trailers
Mine Hollow Area
• Re-route the Long Path through this area to connect to new parking area along Berme Road
• Designate the Point Lookout Trail
• Further assess potential for trail expansion
• Maintain contact with Ulster County regarding development of the D&H Canal Trail
• Re-route the Scenic Trail to the southeast side of Mud Pond
• Re-route the Long Path through the Mine Hollow Area
Connector Trails
• Develop the Power House Trail providing a connection to the Power House and two waterfalls in
the Peter’s Kill area
• Work with NYS Department of Transportation to develop safe crossings of Route 44/55 to create
connections from the Peter’s Kill area to the Awosting Falls Carriage Road
• Develop the Stony Kill Falls Trail and the Falls Spur Trail to connect the new parking lot to the
top of the ridge and the Stony Kill Carriage Road and to connect to the bottom of the Falls
• Develop the Stony Kill Falls Trail and the Falls Spur Trail to connect the new parking lot to the

top of the ridge and the Stony Kill Carriage Road and to connect to the bottom of the Falls
• Develop the Fire Break Trail (west of the Stony Kill) to connect the Smiley Carriage Road to the Stony Kill Carriage Road and the Stony Kill Falls
• Develop Witch’s Cave Trail to provide alternate route between the Awosting parking lot and the Lake Minnewaska area
The Preserve will expand interpretive programming and maintain coordination with volunteer groups for the maintenance of the trails system.

It is not clear if this means that some trails will have increased bike use, while others will have decreased bike use. One thing is clear, you had better be there if you have any interest in preserving or improving mountain bike access at Lake Minnewaska. Copies of the Draft Plan/DEIS are available for review online.

Several people in the New Jersey community have approached Jim Hall's office to allow mountain biking along the top trail of the Palisades Parkway from Fort Lee, to Alpine and even after offering help from NORBA to maintain the trails, they have been turned down.

You can also share your thoughts with NYBC at

New Law Being Considered to Protect Mowed Down Pedestrians

Do you remember that awful day in Chinatown, January 22, 2009, when two little children who were so young they could barely recite the alphabet, Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez, were killed when a China Chalet worker left his 9,400-pound delivery van unattended and in reverse on a crowded Chinatown street?

Left Diego Martinez, and right, Hayley Ng. Below, Hayley's funeral.

The photos of the devastated parents and shell-shocked toddlers were everywhere. And many of us asked ourselves, how could it be that someone should be allowed to be so completely negligent about how they leave their car--in reverse and on--both against the law--but not even be faced with criminal penalties? Well it's true, the driver didn't even get a ticket.

Stories like these are commonplace in New York: remember the elderly guy who plowed into a group of pedestrians in midtown, killing a handful of them, who said he was "sorry" because he put his foot on the gas instead of the brake? He also suffered no criminal penalties.

"It was an accident," is a phrase ringing a sour note in my ears. And both of these incompetent jerks are probably still driving--because under NY State law they didn't commit a crime!
To counteract this obvious nonsense, NYBC and Transportation Alternatives have joined forces to push for legislation called the Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez law (A.7917/S.5292).
Introduced in the State Legislature this spring, the bill provides police and district attorneys with a viable charging option when drivers do not exercise due care, inlcuding speeding, swerving, crossing a double yellow line making a u-turn, or leaving a vehicle running and unattended. 

If passed as currently proposed, violators of the law will face possible jail time and/or financial penalties for injuring or killing a pedestrian or cyclist. "This law will ultimately provide another tool to help victims' families and friends obtain justice while creating safer streets, " wrote NYBC.

To learn more about this legislation visit T.A.'s Legislative Action Center .

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