New road markers — depicting a bicycle with two directional chevrons — appeared this week on the Route 27 pavement, thanks to the State Department of Transportation. One group of these vaguely mysterious symbols, for example, were applied down the middle of both traffic lanes for about a mile in Amagansett. As best we can tell, they are intended to remind drivers to share the road in places where bicyclists are likely to be encountered as they swerve around parked cars. Bike lanes they are not, but we suppose they are better than nothing.
Going from place to place on two wheels on the South Fork is nerve-racking. Add to that the growth in popularity of speeding e-bikes, electric skateboards and scooters, and rental mopeds and the situation becomes dangerous. Drivers unfamiliar with our narrow roads, as well as those not used to driving at all, pose their own kinds of risks.
A Long Island advocacy group calls the increasing pedestrian and bicyclist injury and deaths a silent epidemic. Nationwide, a boom in cycling brought on by the pandemic has slowed only slightly, along with fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, 1,260 bicyclists were killed in 2020, up 16 percent from the year before and 44 percent over the preceding decade.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 included $5 billion in potential grants for road improvements under the Safe Streets and Roads for All program. Cities, towns, villages, even school districts can apply for funding. Its goal is to save lives by reducing roadway fatalities and serious injuries. Grants will be looked at favorably for their effect on climate change, sustainability, and economic competitiveness as well. A July deadline for fiscal year 2023 funding is approaching fast; we encourage the region’s elected officials not to let this rare opportunity go by. “Paint is not protection,” people who lobby for safer bike lanes say — and they are absolutely correct.