Great biking news: Ride between Van Cortland Park, Bronx, to Brewster!
Friday, February 17, 2012
by Mark Tulis
Over the past winter Westchester County and Putnam County finished construction on two of the three remaining gaps in the South County-North County -Putnam County Rail Trails located on the old Putnam Line Rail bed. The first new section in Yonkers, from Dunwoodie Park to Tuckahoe Road is approximately 1.75 miles long and eliminated a dangerous descent on Mile Square Road to Tuckahoe Road. The new section meanders through Parkland and travels under Tuckahoe Road, which is far safer than crossing a dangerous intersection. See the map below.
The second new section in Putnam County connects Tilly Foster in Putnam County to its new terminus on route 6, only one mile from the Brewster train station. The new section avoids the heavily traveled sections of Route 6 and contains a beautiful section that crosses the reservoir. The entire Putnam section, which is 11 miles long and parallels Route 6, has many breathtaking portions that cross watershed land.
Brewster to the NYC Subway: 47.2 miles
It will now be possible to travel from Brewster to the New York City line at Van Cortlandt Park for a total of 47.2 miles on bicycle trails other than the 1 mile detour in Elmsford! The trail continues through Van Cortlandt Park for an additional 1.75 miles on a dirt trail. Both Metro-North trains and the Subway are easily accessible from the Van Cortlandt Park terminus.
The Elmsford section, which ends at Warehouse Lane and requires traveling on either 9A (dangerous) or the commercial area to its west on Nepperhan Avenue (watch for glass and nails!!) to Route 119 where the main section of the South County trail starts adjacent to Pete’s Tavern. The Elmsford detour may not be replaced with a bike trail for years because the County transferred ownership of the Rail bed to the SPCA and because a boardwalk will have to be built along and over the Saw Mill River for 200 yards or so under Route 287. We had been told that the bike trail would be built when the new Route 9A bypass was built in Greenburgh to relieve traffic on Route 9A, but such major new construction projects do not seem achievable for the forseeable future. So take Nepperhan and be careful for a few more years. It’s worth it to bike the South County Trailway!
Now, everybody wants the bike path!
Ironically, the construction of the new Yonkers section of the bike path was blocked for many years by its neighbors, who were fearful of crime and didn’t want their personal use of a portion of the trail bed as their backyards disturbed!! Luckily a change in the County Board allowed the work to be done.
When I first proposed the Millwood portion of the bike path in 1989 and the Yorktown section in 1993 I heard the same arguments from residents of Millwood and later in Yorktown when we extended the path to Yorktown Heights! People thought it would diminish their property values rather than increase values by providing such an amenity. It’s great to see that public opinion of the bike path has changed and is now viewed as an economic engine. And it cheers me to see so many people using the path all year round!
Mark Tulis is a former New Castle Town Supervisor and Westchester County Legislator and is an attorney and Chairman of the Board of The Westchester Medical Center. He is an avid bicyclist and rides the bike path every day all year round.