Long Island Bike-to-Work Parade commences at Hofstra
Dedicated community members decorated their bikes to raise awareness during Saturday’s parade. Jordan Laird / Hofstra Chronicle
Despite the foggy morning, a small but dedicated group of community members and student volunteers gathered at Hofstra USA on Saturday, April 28 for Car-less Long Island’s third annual Bike-to-Work Parade. Their colorful parade of decorated bikes, as well as the alternative pedestrian parade, was organized to raise awareness for Long Island’s need to provide safe, suitable alternatives to driving. Car-less Long Island wants more convenient public transportation options and safer routes for cyclists and pedestrians.
The 6.5-mile bike route began and ended on Hofstra’s campus. Along the way, participants traveled on Hempstead Turnpike, Oak Street and Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, and rode through Eisenhower Park.
Sylvia Silberger, a Hofstra professor of mathematics, has organized the event for the past three years. “First, it’s environmental. The reason I got involved in trying to commute without a car as much as possible is because I consider myself an environmentalist,” she said. “Also, it’s quality of life for me as well.”
Silberger explained that it is also a social fairness issue. She pointed out that there are many people on Long Island who are disabled, poor or – for various circumstances – are forced into public transit and biking. Silberger emphasized that this kind of transportation is often inconvenient or unsafe for them, and that bus trips on Long Island often add several hours to a commute.
Eddie Giron, from Levittown, rode in the parade for the second year in a row. “I think it’s very important. I’m a cyclist and I cycle every weekend, up to 100 miles,” said Giron. “And I think Long Island needs bike lanes because I was in an accident last year … A [person in a] car opened his door and hit me. I had shoulder surgery and I was hospitalized for a couple of days. So it’s very important that we have bike safety on Long Island.”
This year, Giron used cardboard, spray paint and duct tape to make his bike into a police motorcycle that said “Bike to Work Parade Police” on the front. “I wanted to just ride with the cops on the parade. I did it last year and last year I made a horse,” he said.
Allison Blanchette, the executive director of Long Island Streets and keynote speaker at the event, said, “Somebody has to advocate for them. We have a public health epidemic of crashes, injuries and fatalities on Long Island, more so Nassau County [though] Suffolk County is right behind us. We need to advocate for safer streets, or else the numbers get out of control.”
Despite the serious side of what the group was advocating for in terms of safety concerns, Silberger described the atmosphere as “festive.” She said of the parade, “It’s supposed to be festive and fun.”