On February 26, of this year the presidents of the larger Long Island bicycle clubs elected officers to the Paumonok Bicycle Advocacy Group. At this meeting I was elected president of Paumonok. Paumonok is the umbrella organization which is composed of a federation of the five main bicycle clubs of Long Island and they are the Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists (CLIMB), the Huntington Bicycle Club (HBC), the Long Island Bicycle Club (LIBC), the Massapequa Park Bicycle Club (MPBC) and the Suffolk Bicycle Rides Association (SBRA).
Since assuming the responsibility of president I have attended over thirty meetings, as well as attending a three day nation wide League of American Bicyclists (LAB) summit in Washington, DC. I have spoken to many people, politicians and groups, as well as written letters to advance cycling and pedestrian causes on Long Island.
My background includes over a decade of serious cycling. In the past I have been chairperson of the Gold Coast Tour (1998 and 1999), co-chairperson of Gold Coast for the year 2000; co-chairperson of the Bike Boat Bike Tour this year; and currently I serve as the advocate elect for SBRA. Over the years I have ridden many times with LIBC and have been a member of each of HBC, MPBC, and SBRA. My credentials also include serving on the board of directors for the newly formed New York chapter of Trips for Kids.
Having lived in and around Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon as well being a frequent traveler to the west coast gives me good insights as to what is happening in other areas of the United States. The new leadership at Paumonok plans to keep up with the good work Paumonok has done in the past as well as break new ground in new areas for the future.
Presently, many exciting things are happening in the field of cycling advocacy. Over the next few years we should see much progress. Communities and politicians are opening up their minds and pocketbooks to bicycling lanes and bicycle friendly ideas.
Over the last year we have seen bicycle lanes installed from North Heaven to Sag Harbor along Route 114. Bicycle symbols have been placed around Yaphank near the county buildings. Although this may seem small in comparison to the thousand of miles of roads on Long Island it is a giant step for Long Island bicycle advocacy.
There is a new interest in what we are doing; many towns and communities are interested in bicycle lanes as well as other cycling needs. People and planners are interested in integrating cycling into their local plans and communities.
The mood in Washington is for cycling advancements. The government has a mandate to keep us healthy, to reduce pollution, to lower our dependence on foreign oil, and to reduce traffic congestion. Bicycles are a natural answer to these mandates. There are plans to have one-tenth of all commutes (work, shopping, school, visits, etc.) done by cycles by the year 2025. This is very much a possibility comparing us to other countries of the world with similar weather, environmental, and economic conditions. What we are doing today at Paumonok is putting the foundation in place for a better infrastructure tomorrow, keeping in mind that we could start benefiting from that infrastructure as it comes about.
Each time you receive your newsletters or visit the Paumonk web site we plan to keep you updated as to what advocacy projects are in the works as well as what each of us can do to advance cycling causes on Long Island .
In the future it is our goal to see hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes on Long Island, as well as more bicycle routes and safety education for drivers as well as for cyclists.
I look forward to serving the bicycling community to help make Long Island a better place to cycle and to live.
Joseph De Palma