Before the turn of the last century, when passengers were ferried to the Larchmont train station by horse-drawn trolleys, it would have been common to find hitching posts in front of many homes and businesses.
Now hitching posts of a different sort have cropped up around the village's two business districts but these are designed for a vehicle of a very different sort.
The installation of the 12 bicycle hitching posts was a joint project of the village, the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce and the Larchmont Committee on the Environment. But the project would never have happened without the perseverance of Trustee Richard Ward, who has been working on biking and pedestrian-related issues since elected.
The Committee on the Environment has been working for several years on a master plan to reduce the village's carbon footprint, much of which is caused by automobiles. Reducing the number of people who use automobiles to reach the business district and increasing the number who bicycle helps the village's green effort and makes the village more attractive, said Carol Casazza Herman, the committee's chair.
Jeff Rosenberg, president of the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce, appreciated being included in deciding where the hitching posts would be placed for maximum use and safety. "It's the kind of cooperation that the village needs," he added, if progress is to be made on improving the business districts.
Ward said there are four components to his master plan for biking in the village:
- Expanding the parking for bikes and scooters at the train station,
- Providing bike parking in the business districts,
- Making it easier to bike to the business districts and between them,
Developing bike lanes and routes that connect to adjacent communities.
The village has already accomplished the first by installing additional racks, fashioned by the Department of Public Works from scrap metal at the Village Yard. As many as 120 bike and scooter riders a day are taking advantage of these racks, Ward said.
Now, with the installation of the hitching posts, which cost approximately $250 each, Ward hopes more bikers will use their pedal-power to reach the business district. (See our story on Mamaroneck's efforts to get bikers to use racks.)
Ward said he remains hopeful that the Village Traffic Commission and Board of Trustees will come to realize that making the city more bicycle-friendly has many benefits, including reducing air pollution, reducing traffic congestion and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
And there's a less quantifiable benefit as well, Ward said. When people get out of their cars and bike or walk through the business district, the village becomes a friendlier and more sociable place.
"When you look around the country and around the world, you see many places are taking steps to make their communities more bike-friendly," he said, adding he doesn't want to see Larchmont fall behind in the trend.