Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Keep Seaview safe for bikes

Overton's and Harbor Lights customers park in their lot and make liberal use of the city-owned lot across the street. Should they be parking in the road too?

It took a combined effort of numerous advocates to get striping on Seaview Avenue this summer. The goal was to create a street that can be part of a safe, family-friendly bike route between SoNo and the beach.

Now, some of that success is being thrown into question. When the repaving and restriping work was completed, yellow paint that had indicated no-parking along part of Seaview went away. For the past few months, some drivers have been using the curb space as parking. The city recently placed "No Parking" signs to remind drivers to keep the curb clear, especially so as not to create a safety hazard for bikes. As a result, the priorities of the road have been thrown into question.

A few businesses along the road, including Overton's / Harbor Lights, the East Norwalk Boat Club and the Pastime Club, want the space for on-street parking. This despite the fact that the Seaview corridor is already lined with parking lots and Overton's has essentially appropriated the parking lot from the city park across the street.

Seaview Avenue is an essential part of the cycling corridor connecting SoNo and the beach. Much work has been done to improve this corridor and much work remains to be done. It is short-sighted to take away from a resource that serves all of Norwalk by putting in a few just-in-case parking spots.

The Traffic Authority will meet on Monday, November 21, to consider the issue. Every able-bodied believer in a bike route between SoNo and the beach should be there. The meeting will be from 4:00pm to 4:15pm at the Norwalk Police HQ in SoNo...although I have a feeling this meeting may go long.


  1. In response to the above article, I am writing to set the record straight. Overton's and Harbor Lights are NOT not the only ones advocating the removal of recent No Parking signs on Seaview Avenue. There are several other businesses in the area, including, the Norwalk Boat Club and the Past Time Club whose members also make use of these parking spaces. It's not like the above businesses woke up one day and decided to take over these spaces...the businesses above actually inherited a pre-existing condition. Please be advised that the City of Norwalk has not enforced a No Parking rule on that side of the street since the mid 1950's!!! Taking away these spaces now would hurt all the surrounding businesses and if you were a business owner, perhaps you'd understand. To accommodate a handful of bikers (such as the 149 members of your Facebook group - Livable Norwalk)is counter-productive to the economic development of the City of Norwalk...let's NOT forget who pays the majority of taxes and provides jobs for Norwalk residents during these tough times.... SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS NOT BIKERS!!!! I was born and raised in Norwalk and have lived here since a child (unlike you) and I truly believe that one bike lane suffices and adequately accomodates all bikers in the area. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic. ~ES

  2. Thanks ES for your comment. I tweaked the post to better reflect that it's not just Harbor Lights asking for this. Also, my tone was harsher than I intended, so I tweaked that too.

    I think reasonable people can disagree about the best way to stimulate economic development in Norwalk. When I moved here seven years ago I was struck both by all the tremendous assets that Norwalk has--a beach, a river, a harbor, historic city centers--and how little is being done with this. I think one problem has been a failure to see that Norwalk has potential far beyond that of another suburban outpost. We can be a great place to walk around. We can be a great place to go for a bike ride with the kids--but somehow we keep mucking it up.

    Some believe Norwalk can develop through wider roads and more parking...all data to the contrary. I think Norwalk's future will come from being a place where people want to be. Part of that is being a town that is welcoming to people on foot and on bike, and not just cars. Likewise, the success of businesses on Seaview hinges on them being great places to be, not just their copious parking.

    So, what would happen if we keep Seaview welcoming to bikes and make it part of a safe, kid-friendly route from SoNo to the beach? Cars that might have parked on the street will use the parking lots instead.

    What happens if we break our plans for a bike route from SoNo to the beach? It means the Norwalk misses a great chance to appeal to people looking to lead active lifestyles and we're stuck as a drive-everywhere suburb. And it means fewer people riding past Overton's or Mr. Frosty's--two favorite places to stop on a bike ride. That seems like a bad move.

  3. Whats funny is we do not have money to support parks and recs. through the summer they do not cut grass in most places. However lets build a bike path that 40 people will use out of 80,000. Good idea gang keep up the good work.