Southold Town will soon consider a prohibition on running and bicycling events from May 1 to October 1, after several years in which the town has been inundated with requests for large-scale sporting events on town roads.
The matter came to a head two weeks ago, after hordes of bicyclists descended on Southold’s roads for an event in which they blocked traffic on Route 48 and disobeyed stop signs throughout town.
“We created policy based on health, safety and the public welfare,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell as he suggested the policy at Tuesday morning’s work session. “The police department is overstressed. We can’t provide safety anymore. We can’t regulate it well enough to ensure public safety. If we’re going to accommodate these races at all, we need to do them in the off-season.”
Mr. Russell added that he wants the town to consider only letting registered non-profit organizations hold events. Currently, the town will allow for-profit groups to hold sporting events on town roads if they make a donation to charity.
“They can’t just be putting the logo of a charity in their ad and charging a $175 registration fee,” he said. “It needs to be a non-profit holding a charity event for their own purposes.”
Mr. Russell pointed out that the organizers of a recent bicycle event painted large route arrows on town roads and have not removed them.
“The fees [the town charges] are not even coming close to covering the costs,” he said.
“I;m not against biking and running, not that I’ve done it in decades, but that May to October, it just becomes too harrowing,” he added. “Nobody’s banning bicyclists. Bicycling will still be allowed.”
Town Councilwoman Jill Doherty said the police department is considering giving handouts to bicyclists who flagrantly disobey traffic symbols.
“Somebody’s going to be killed,” said Councilman Bill Ruland. “If you’re driving and you come to an intersection and you have a green light, you don’t expect five to six bicyclists to come out across traffic when they have a red light.”