With the extremely sunny weather this region has been experiencing, many people have been enjoying outdoor activities. State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) wants to remind bicyclists of the importance of bike safety.
"I've seen many people enjoying the local trails such as Fulton County's FJ&G Bike-Hike Trail, Schenectady County's Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail and the Town of Ballston's Veterans' Memorial Bike Path," Senator Farley said. "Whether you want to explore trails in one of our region's parks or ride in your own neighborhood, safety is something to always consider."
Senator Farley warned young riders that New York State law requires child cyclists under the age of 14 to wear helmets. Police officers may issue appearance tickets to parents or guardians who are present when their children are riding without helmets. Parents could face a maximum fine of $50, which would be waived if they purchase or rent a helmet before their court appearance.
Children ages 1 through 4 must wear helmets and ride in safety seats when they are passengers on bikes. The law also prohibits adults from carrying infants under age 1 as bicycle passengers, Senator Farley added.
"These helmet laws were enacted to help reduce head injuries which are the most common form of serious bicycling accidents," Senator Farley said.
Senator Farley reminds bicyclists of all ages that the basic traffic laws that apply to automobile drivers also apply to bicyclists. This includes stopping at red lights, stop signs or before entering a roadway. Ride as close to the right-hand edge or curb of the road as possible with the flow of traffic. Violators of traffic laws could pay a maximum fine of $100 and face up to 15 days in jail under New York State law.
"By increasing attention and education on the issue, I hope to encourage bicyclists to protect themselves so that they have an enjoyable summer. The health, well-being and recreational enjoyment of bicyclists is important," Senator Farley said.
Senator Farley said cyclists, joggers and walkers have access to some great recreational trails in this area, including the Erie Canalway Trail. The NYS Canal Corporation is developing this 348 mile long trail between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. As of 2004, 220 miles of this trail have been completed. The year 2004 saw the completion and opening of a 20-mile strip that connects Fort Hunter, Fultonville and Canajoharie and a 7-mile strip from Fort Plain to Minden. With these new sections, Montgomery County is now home to some 40 miles of continuous Canalway Trail, covering almost the entire county, Senator Farley said. The trail is picked up again in Schenectady County, where it is known as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail. From Pattersonville, bicyclists can head east through Schenectady County to Albany.
Senator Farley noted that, in Fulton County, the FJ&G Bike-Hike Trail follows the line of the former FJ&G Railroad and outdoor enthusiasts can start a bike or hike adventure at Dennies Crossing in Gloversville and go all the way to Perry Street in Johnstown, with the trail extending to the Fulton-Montgomery county line. Another dedicated trail is in the Town of Ballston, which has a 3-mile paved trail, the Veterans’ Memorial Bike Path, which extends from Route 146-A to Outlet Road, Senator Farley added.
Senator Farley has free brochures on bicycle safety and helmet use and they are available through his office by calling 455-2181 (Albany), 843-2188 (Amsterdam), 762-3733 (Johnstown) or toll-free at (800) 224-5201.