The snow didn’t come until I was long gone from the state of New York, but that didn’t mean I kept off the bike when I was at my parent’s house on Long Island. I’ve been dreaming up all these big huge rides to do from their house, located nearly dead smack in the middle of the island, one ride going to the Eastern end and staring off from the end of Montauk (although this would be much better in the summer time with a camping trip), the other going west and crossing the historic Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, I didn’t budget my time well enough (or I prioritized other things like a Jets game with my brother and seeing an old friend in Brooklyn) and missed out on both of these rides, so instead I just settled on shorter rides around central Suffolk County.
|There are so many trees here, I wonder what it looked like before NYC grew into it.|
|One of the few and far between bike paths.|
|Most county parks are donated estates, such as this one hiding behind the trees and lake.|
I was not really into cycling growing up (much to the chagrin of my father), it wasn’t until I spent my first summer in Buffalo that I realized I could get anywhere I wanted by bicycle in the urban areas, then from there I learned the joys of getting out of the city by two wheels. This love for the closeness of the urban and love of the solitude of the country makes the sprawling suburbs of Long Island a seeming death trap for cycling. I haven’t really lived on Long Island with a bicycle much, only spending a week with a bike before my cross-country trip, this would be my second considerable time riding around the island.
|Bikeway bridge next to Sunrise Highway, there are a lot of these transportation barriers, between hardly named rivers and highways.|
|So there are some nice parts.|
|The rare urban shot on Long Island. This is Islip village, the South Shore villages dotted along Montauk Highway are actually sort of nice, I even had lunch at a decent vegetarian Chinese place when I took this shot.|
|South Haven County Park.|
I was expecting much less friendly roads, but oddly enough in more carcentric places, shoulders tend to be wider, as they were planned around cars I suppose. One of my first rides was to Bellport to see the bay (which was creeping up on the park) and most of the riding was on quiet back streets and crowded county highways with giant shoulders, while filled with debris, they were very safe giving me plenty of room to ride away from traffic, only turning lanes would become hairy, but no one seemed to cut me off or mind me properly signaling into the road, which was a surprise, maybe they were just surprised to see a bike in that frigid weather (although the lycra covered roadies were making their rounds on Sunday).
|Most reserves are pine reserves, where are the oak or maple reserves? Pines think they are so special.|
|These paths seemed so tempting, but right next to this was a “Hunting in Progress” sign, uh, no thanks.|
|Cool old single lane bridge.|
I made a second trip to the bay through Patchogue, which was just as nice, but two other rides I did were to two preserves, one being Southhaven County Park and the other Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area, both were in hunting season and closed to mountain biking unfortunately (I did like mountain biking as a kid and Rocky Point was a favorite weekend spot), instead I tried communing with nature by looping the parks. Southhaven was only partially nice, two sides of the park were quiet residential roads covered with a fence obscuring the view of the forest, which was sad, but the lack of traffic made it worthwhile. Rocky Point on the other hand was crap. Only one side didn’t have a lot of traffic, and lacking a fence was nice to feel like I was right in the forest, but even on this road there was no shoulder and traffic moved far too fast. I didn’t feel safe on any sides of this park unfortunately.
|The encroaching bay.|
|If only I had fat tires for that sand.|
|This is what I ride for.|
Urban bike riding has been a rapid investment with most cities buying in heavily, but suburban cycling has been a slow progress. For the most part cycling is still seen as recreation only and recreation cyclists who ride every now and then seem more willing to deal without cycling lanes than those who ride dangerous roads every day. Long Island needs some help, even the new bike lanes seem in odd places and there for the wrong reasons, like the one on Woodside Ave near my parents’ house, which was put in as a traffic slowing measure (shrinking two lanes to one in a wide road, which still allows for fast traffic as most drivers drive slow on visually smaller roads, not less laned roadways). Then once you got to the end of Woodside the lane just stops instead of connecting Medford to Patchogue down Route 112 (even some sharrows might help). But, the suburbs were built on cars and designed for people who want them, so for now I’ll keep out, maybe missing the ride to Montauk and Brookyln aren’t so bad.