Saltaire Summery
By Hugh O’Brien

Very well. You now have night bike riding in summer–strictly limited, to be sure, but it’s here. Now the whole thing comes down to one very simple question.

How are the proponents, the people who’ve been clamoring for this progressive reform for so many years, going to screw it up?

All right. First, to update, recap and in general make this so clear a five-year-old child will be able to hand out summonses:

Night bike riding – “NBR”, FYI – has been made legal on the following three village walks –

Lighthouse Prom;


Bay Prom.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat: Lighthouse, Broadway and Bay. Lions, tigers and bears. Three walks. That’s it. Nowhere else. Not Harbor; not any other north/south streets besides Broadway. (In a community where everyone habitually says “up” to the ocean and “down” to the bay, just remember that north/south runs from bay to ocean, east/west from Fair Harbor to Kismet. Well, down to Kismet.)

And, all the usual requirements to obtain for NBR in the off-season, when it’s always been permitted, are in full force and effect. That means a LIGHT – a bright, easily seen light, either affixed to your handlebars or a hand-held flashlight, working and switched on, with a beam visible at least 200 feet ahead. This isn’t only for the safety pf the rider; equally, for the hapless pedestrian in the biker’s path. Most NBR troubles, when it’s legal or not, stem from the rider not seeing who or what’s ahead of him/her, and, similarly, offering the walker no clue as to the biker’s imminent arrival on said pedestrian’s foot. Or other, more sensitive portion of the anatomy.

None of which, I hasten to add, in these hypersensitive days when it seems necessary to lay out everything with a sledgehammer, an anvil, and a floor plan, means that bicyclist/pedestrian safety is something to be taken flippantly. It’s the crux of the NBR issue, and it’s on this that the success or failure of this trial period of NBR will be decided. Those wanting to take advantage of this new-found, albeit temporary, privilege have a duty to obey the laws – use a light, ride SLOWLY and CAREFULLY, ring your bell when nearing pedestrians, corners, wherever safety concerns mandate it.

If you don’t have a light, if you’re drunk or not in control, don’t ride. If you’re thinking of riding on a walk where NBR remains banned, or you’re dying to hold a drag race along Lighthouse for the hell of it, just don’t.

If infractions climb–if serious incidents occur–the Board can and will revoke this temporary suspension of the no-NBR law and reinstate the total prohibition, and it might not take much for that to happen. Violators will be given summonses and prosecuted. And remember, this partial lifting of the NBR ban applies to the rest of this summer only, at most. If no further action on this matter is taken, for whatever reason, the proscription against NBR will be back in effect next year, as if it had never been suspended.

That’s why the behavior of those who take advantage of this new-found freedom – their obedience to the laws, their courtesy to others, their use of common sense, their safe-and-sane approach in riding their bike – is crucial to the issue of whether there’s any future for NBR, or whether people will simply fulfill the worst expectations of many others and behave so irresponsibly that it will be clear that the ban on riding at night should continue. Not to mention the far more critical aspect: that ignoring the laws governing safety puts others – and the rider himself – at serious risk.

Bottom line? Don’t be an idiot. Act the way you’re supposed to. After that, we’ll see.

One item that should be addressed, because it came up in several conversations over the weekend and again at Monday’s Board meeting, is the story being circulated that years ago someone was killed by a night bike rider in Saltaire, and that’s why riding at night was banned in the first place. As it happens, this story is true. While riding back from his house in the rain, a man who, decades later, was my next-door neighbor struck a pedestrian and knocked him off the boardwalk so severely that the man later died of his injuries. It was of course an accident and, as no law was violated, the biker was not charged or imprisoned, nor as I understand it was there any lawsuit, in that less litigious era. Era? Yes: this tragedy took place roughly 80 years ago, when my future neighbor was 18, and he spent the rest of his life haunted by the memory, though from the accounts I’ve heard he was not riding recklessly. Just a horrible accident. Now, does this mean we should remain beholden to a particular policy adopted in reaction to a single, terrible event that occurred before most people were born? And does this event, however remote in time, bear remembering as we embark on this trial night riding run? The first question is a matter of each individual’s reasoned judgment. The second – of course it’s worth keeping in mind.

Okay, we can put this to rest for a while, I hope, and play catch-up now as we catch up on the avalanche of events suddenly cascading down upon us like ketchup poured atop one of Larry’s Club burgers, or some other tortured metaphor. The burgers are good, though.

No junk food of the mind in Kim Lincoln’s Library, now entered upon its – what? 7th? 8th? – summer, with the usual veritable plethora of activities. Kim’s Saturday Storytimes start this weekend, with a book entitled “Fast Friends: A Fire Island Ferry Book,” by Meghan Lapp, of the venerable Saltaire Lapps. Meghan will be there to read, sell and sign copies of her children’s book, from 9-10 a.m., open to children ages 3-8 and their families. Kim’s Storytimes run each Saturday, through August 5. Other bibliotesque activities include the redoubtable Book Bingo, Monday nights from 7-8, through Aug. 21, and the Children’s Alcove, open from July 5 - Aug. 24. Complicated hours: Mon., 10-10:30; Tue., 10-10:30 & 4:30-5:30; Wed., 4:30-5:30; Thurs., 5-6:30; Fri., 10-10:30 & 12-1; Sat. 9:30-10:30. Phew. The Library pre-camp program runs M-W-F, 9-10:15. To take advantage of all this, please register at the Village Office, on either a weekly basis ($35 per Saltairian, $50 for non-Saltairians), or seasonal ($200/$280). I have no idea what Kim does in her spare time.

Last chance, this weekend, to deliver your donated items to the receiving deck at 14 West Bay Prom (Dr./Security office complex) for the Grand & Glorious Bazaar, to be held, as a reminder, Sat. July 15 from 1-3 at the firehouse. Donations to be brung over on Sat. & Sun. ONLY – no weekday surprises – and no donated furniture until day of sale. Actually, that probably goes for baked goods too, I imagine. No electronics. Hurry! Time is running out. Edie & Jenifer & Eugenie & Joy have a lot of sifting to do and your cooperation in inundating them in a timely fashion is much appreciated. Check the yellow posters on the bulletin boards and trees, or last week’s yellow press on your coffee table or birdcage, for details.

Which raises a bit of belated business to tidy up, last week’s annual SCAA meeting and elections. Dorothy Beardslee and Frank Wolf bid aloha to the executive board, replaced by Bob Mason and (back for her return engagement), Patsy Scanlan. Doug Kunreuther and Linda Cassano re-upped, and Stanley Karp took over the unexpired term vacated by our pal Bill James, who regrettably sold his home the other month and blew town. A pretty well-attended meeting, with lots of solid proposals and not-easily-answered questions, and a top group running the show. The brass – Clare Briody, Gordon Medenica, Geri DiCostanzo and Liv Hempel – all won back their coveted seats of power in the after-meeting organizational session. Congratulations, and thanks.

Lots of camps coming up this summer. There’s Basketball Camp, July 10-14, 2-4:30 daily, ages 8-13, fee $45 per child. And Soccer Camp, July 24-28, 2-5 pm daily, ages 5-12, @ $95 per. GOOOOOAAAAAAAL!

However, if it’s action for ages over 16 you’re looking for, search no further than Connie Lawler’s annual Bridge Camp, July 25-26-27, 2-5 daily at the SYC. Price is a highly reasonable $100 per Club member, $135 per Club member’s unwanted midweek houseguest, based on a minimum of five tables, and totally non-refundable. Note, writes Connie: a $50 deposit is required to hold your spot. As always, after you get there, you’re on your own. I really don’t understand any of this. Ah, but there’s a topic: “Three days of lessons and play designed to improve your bridge skills.” That “your” is italicized in the original. Well, yeah, I hope so. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna plunk down 135 bucks to improve somebody else’s bridge skills. Contact Connie before, or at least prior to, July 14 for reservations: 631-583-7694 or 212-517-8207. $1.25 for the first minute, 75 cents each additional minute. Pays for the lemonade. Oh, and, uh, “For jumpstart beginner lessons contact Connie Lawler,” though Connie doesn’t say whether you phone for the jumpstart or just cable. And a final reminder, open bridge is held at the SYC every Monday night from July 18 – Aug. 28 from 8-10; sign-up sheets are by the tennis courts, after you’ve elbowed your way through that sign-up.

We’ve got a trip to Sunken Forest coming up July 22. This is always cool, but there’s a maximum attendance of just 20 persons, at $15 per, so you have to hustle to pay up at the Village Office if you want to get your seat. Although, you may wish to consider the fine print on the signs advertising the journey: it says the Village “will attempt to arrange a guide, but it may be un-guided.” Even that superfluous hyphen looks foreboding. Well, the ferry down leaves promptly at 9:30 (yes, a.m.), and returns “early afternoon”…unless, of course, the tour is indeed “un-guided”, in which case the Village will launch a search-and-recovery – pardon, rescue mission with the flotilla we’ll enlist a la Dunkirk. Who says we don’t learn from the past? Anyway, we don’t want our loved ones on this particular three-hour tour, abandoned, guideless, to have to resort to subsisting on deer and plovers and sea amethysts. Quite a book there, though.

Ah, but on this business of nature and conservation and endangered species, this Saturday, July 8, the first of the season’s presentations by the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Conservancy will be held at the gazebo starting at 10:30. “Birds of Prey” leads the way. Or is that “lead”? (Like Hitchcock’s movie slogan: “’The Birds’ is coming.”) (Speaking of Teddy Roosevelt, that Time cover story on him last week talked about his great efforts in setting aside wild lands for preservation just before describing his bold hunting trip to Africa to shoot animals in a valiant effort to improve the stock of dead carcasses held by the Smithsonian. I guess Eskimos would have been next on his list if the Great War hadn’t proved such a diversion. What a guy. Hear that, you birds? How ‘bout you, FM?)

On this matter of the prestidigitation required to change a trigger-happy cowboy into a bear-cub-cuddling conservationist, perhaps Mr. Fish, of Phenomenal Physics fame, can work a similar metamorphosis on the present occupant of the White House, when he pays his annual and much-anticipated visit next July 12, at 7 pm at the Yacht Club. Learn lots about science and witness amazing experiments, free. That does sound a bit like a spiel from some tonic salesman working out of a covered wagon, but take the kids and go, it’s great, and if he mixes the right combination of chemicals together we may not have to worry about rewiring the place.

As to yon Club, buncha stuff coming up over there shortly. Various tennis tourneys, plus the annual Fishing Trip Sunday the 16, the victors in each of which will be duly inscribed in the imperishable, not to say impenetrable, pages of the FIN. It’s Karaoke Night on the 14 that worries me. For one thing, it’s scheduled for after the evening’s barbecue, which I think is asking for trouble, at least for the clean-up staff. For another, the bartenders will not have had time to prepare the requisite number of drinks necessary to render any karaoke bearable. Go if you must, but the trophy will be won by the person who can sing Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 hit “Sukiyaki” in the original Japanese.

Well, at least the days are getting shorter, huh, Harry?