Bicycle Clubs in Greenwich: Menace to the Roads or Healthy Exercise?

bicycle rider

A group of bicyclists on Sunday morning on Pecksland make it difficult for a car to pass. Credit: Leslie Yager

On Friday a caller to the First Selectman’s radio show complained about groups of bicyclists on Riversville Road who travel up to five abreast.

“They just do not move out of the way. Especially on Saturday morning,” the caller said. “They’re riding for their health and yet they might get hit by a car.”

The caller also complained that groups of bicyclists don’t obey the traffic light down by the Glenville fire house.

“And just try to get around them or blow the horn, and they get upset and start waving,” he said, adding that Riversville is a windy, making it even more unsafe.

“I share your concern,” Mr. Tesei said, adding that he had witnessed groups cyclists when he drove his kids to the Audubon, and said it might be a good idea for the Community Impact Officers to reach out to the bike groups to go over the rules. “Everyone wants people to enjoy themselves, but not impede on safety.” Mr. Tesei said that in the past there were issues with bike groups meeting up at the Griff golf course, and taking up 20 or 30 parking spaces.

In Connecticut Gen. Stat. § 14-232 requires cars to leave a distance of three feet of around cyclists when overtaking them. 

At Saturday’s Wiffle ball tournament Police Chief Heavey told GFP that the police do stop the bicycle groups occasionally. “We pull over groups of bike riders and educate them on what the rules are,” Heavey said, adding that stops have been done stops on Riversville Road and at the intersection of Bedford and Cutler.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” Chief Heavey said, adding that police also check on the bike group websites. “They seem to wind up riding tandem and it’s not safe.”

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Followed by a supporter, the bike group “Rapha” filled an entire lane of traffic on Pecksland Sunday morning.

A drive along Riversville Road Sunday morning, GFP came upon a group of about 20 bicyclists heading south, and turning onto Pecksland. Following the group as they  continued on to Zacheus Mead Lane, Lake Ave and onto Parsonage, traveling three, four and even five abreast for several miles.

This car was unable to safely pass the bicyclists, though a motorcycle was able to pass. The group did not stop for a single stop sign.

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A car affiliated with the group, Rapha cycle club, pulled out from where it was waiting on a side street along Pecksland and followed the pack of bikes. The group cycled between 8 mph and 30 mph, depending on terrain, and the driver followed with hazard lights on for several miles.

On Parsonage, another group of riders, a foursome, headed south on Parsonage in a pack. A Subaru could be seen trying to pass the group, but without many opportunities because the road was windy, was stuck behind them at the light at North Street, and along Fairfield Rd until it turned onto a side street.

bike rodeo

Greenwich Police officers, John D’Inverno and Robert Smurlo with North Street School Principal Jill Flood at the second annual Bike Rodeo in June. Credit: Leslie Yager

In Greenwich the police participate in a variety of bicycle theme events to promote bike safety, including the Bike Rodeo in June at North Street School. Much of the focus of the bike rodeo was on the importance of helmets and the police gave away free helmets.

Also, the Department of Transportation CT Safe Routes to School program did safety demonstrations with a melon to reinforce the importance of wearing a helmet.

motorcycle

On Zacheus Mead, a motorcycle waited for a chance to pass a group of bicycle riders. Credit: Leslie Yager

SUV

On Parsonage an SUV could not safely pass a group of four bicyclists.

See also:

VIDEO: Mother’s Day Bike Ride Mountain Bike Stunt Performance

Kids Bling Their Bikes at the North Street School Bike Rodeo


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Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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  • Karen

    I recently attended a safe drivers course. There was a discussion regarding this very topic. It seems that if bicyclists and motorcyclists follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles, they should receive summons for infractions. Many times I have had a red light heading west on the Post Road at the Cos Cob firehouse. I have been thankful that I was at a full stop when bicyclists cut across from Sinawoy Road in front of the Post Office. It is safe to say, from their attire, they are enroute to the train station with seconds to spare. I have similarly noted bicyclists coming down Orchard Street crossing over to Mead Avenue without slowing down. Seems like they have assumed the role of Canadian geese and deer with regards to population to be on the “alert for” roster.

  • John walker

    The Greenwich Police in my opinion do not enforce any traffic laws. All one has to do is drive on any main side street such as Havemeyer Lane and see that cars frequently are driving at 2 or 3 times the speed limit with impunity. The police department in Greenwich is there to enrich its members through the fear and intimidation of the union negotiating with the town. Their primary motivation is not the safety or well being of Geenwich residents. Police don’t prevent crime, if they did there would be a point where hiring a certain number of police would eliminate crime all together. Greenwich is a town of petty crimes – shoplifting, speeding, these bicyclists, Dui, to have a police department the size of the one in Geenwich is a crime in itself and a complete waste of money. But the unions are feared by the weak leadership of town government and we end up,with an overpaid bloated police force that doesn’t even bother with the quality of life crimes we need them to address.

  • Patty Sechi

    This is not a one-sided discussion. I agree that taking up the road in a large group and holding up traffic is not a good situation, but where should these groups ride? Biking is a healthy, economical and practical method of transportation and exercise, but it is nearly impossible to do in this town because most of the roads are so congested and there is no system of safe bike lanes. Riding on the side of the road is not an option because it is an uneven shoulder filled with sand, debris, pot holes and drains and it is not a bike lane. I used to bike everywhere and so did my children, until my daughter was hit by a distracted physician and I was run off the road on another occasion. The few times I do get on my bike these days are harrowing experiences, rather than relaxing and fun. Many car drivers don’t even see or just disregard bikers as a nuisance and the number of people driving around using cell phones and texting make it even more unsafe for the innocent biker.

  • Brian Van

    Note that Rapha is a clothing brand and a retailer. This is likely what one might call a “shop ride”, defined as when a bicycle shop (or a bicycle-related retailer) invites its customers out on a group ride. This is not likely a “club” with any rules, charter, or consistent attendance. It’s likely most of these cyclists are undisciplined amateurs who don’t know how to ride in a group.

    Most cycle clubs do not ride like this, and often have charters and rules and training courses for their members. Riding in a well-organized cycling club will teach you safety, discipline and etiquette. Particularly, they’ll teach you to ride in a straight line, never in a “peloton” that is used in closed-course cycle races. (Just like the rules and customs of driving are MUCH DIFFERENT for public roads than they are for closed-course track races)

    So, real cycling clubs should actually be encouraged & supported, and perhaps these clubs should write to the Rapha store staff to encourage them to express better leadership on their shop rides instead of letting their store customers ride (unsafely) 3-to-5 cyclists across.

  • John

    I have seen groups riding 3-4 across, 2 across and as often seen them riding in a row as close to the side of the road when cars are passing. To the writer who asked where these groups should go I would say Greenwich is a fine place, if you follow the rules. Think traffic and driver behavior is bad in Greenwich? Come to Manhattan where bicyclists seem to do just fine. Even inexperienced riders who use Citibikes do well if they follow the rules and stay to the side of the road. I’ve used Citibikes and never had a problem. I think one problem is the speed some bikers go, which makes it difficult to maneuver close to the side of the road. When bike groups are going at a more leisurely pace, riders tend to go 2-across so they can talk to each other, which probably makes the ride more fun. What is sociable about a ride with a group if you can’t speak to one another?

  • Vin DiMarco

    It’s wonderful to read some good, constructive comments regarding this persistent issue (not sure about the GPD criticism). I hope it continues until action is actually taken to implement recommendations made 15 years ago in the Greenwich Bicycle Master Plan, which still lives quietly on the shelf in Town Hall. It can be found on the Town website, if anyone cares to read it.
    Greenwich Safe Cycling still exists, too, a non-profit org committed to making Greenwich a safe place for cyclists of all abilities. Beyond assisting with Bicycle Rodeos (safety training events for young riders), and the Mother’s Day Ride (family ride it created a dozen years ago, now run by OGRCC), it is an organization in need of fresh blood to push the Town up to speed with communities all around us. As a “townie” who grew up riding freely and safely on the Post Road (RT. 1) and everywhere else, my hometown is still a safe, desirable place to live – for those who take for granted they can get everywhere, anytime they like, unimpeded in their personal automobile, and be able to park it when they get there. But it’s losing it’s luster for many others who want to live in a bike/ped friendly place.
    But this won’t change unless those who live here demand it. How important is it to you?

  • Martin

    Greenwich police ought to concentrate on enforcing the speed limit on Riversville Rd.. That would be a far more practical application of resources in terms of actually ensuring safety. In the meantime this sounds like nothing more than blowhard outrage capitalizing on one event to make a dubious point.

    In the meantime how many of you fly down that road well beyond the limit cell phone in hand?

    Please…if you want to ensure the safety of roadways drivers of motor vehicles are the overwhelming majority of flagrant lawbreakers. You know, with 4000 pounds at their disposal.