Reports of overcrowding and improper social distancing on this year’s first Bicycle Sunday have been overblown, according to Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner was critical of the county for allowing Bicycle Sunday to carry on, despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, releasing photos of groups of participants congregating together.
According to Feiner, there were “significant incidents of failure to socially distance, and I estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent of the cyclists did not wear masks” on Sunday, May 3,
- Earlier story - COVID-19: Social Distancing Was Not Practiced At Bicycle Sunday, Town Supervisor Warns
Latimer said that he and Feiner are in “complete disagreement” over the topic, and he plans to continue running Bicycle Sundays unless riders and joggers blatantly disregard Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s social distancing orders.
“I think the information and photos that were shared do not give an accurate picture of what has happened,” Latimer said. “I was out there, I went up and down the route and saw what I saw.
“There were examples of individuals without masks, and there are examples of people who did cluster, but it was not permanent clustering, and it was not a permanent reality throughout most of the route.”
Latimer defended the clustering of cyclists at a food kiosk that was not a part of the Bicycle Sunday route and noted that some of the photos that were shared were simply a product of poor timing and not reflective of what actually happened during the event.
“I think what you have here is an effort to try and get headlines, rather than try to get progress done,” he added. “Paul and a number of other people think that you should not even have parks open, thinking that’s how you spread this contagion.
“I believe that’s a misguided thought, and I’m happy to disagree with them when I think I’m right and my critic is wrong.”
According to Latimer, “if the situation does get out of control, then we’ll shut it down. The same thing is true for different parks, but I think it’s more of a perception. Maybe it’s their viewpoint.
“I respect that people have different opinions, and they’re entitled to express themselves and they’re also entitled to be wrong,” he said. “The criticism of Bicycle Sunday is dead wrong and doesn’t take into respect the willingness of Westchester people as the weeks progress, and we understand things better and grow each week.”
Latimer cautioned that if Westchester residents don’t have an outlet to exercise and stretch their legs amid “stay at home” orders.
“If you do not have legitimate outlets to exercise and practice mental health, they will find those outlets one way or the other,” he continued. “People need to express themselves and have their release, and they’ll be far more likely of following the rules of sheltering in place.
“I think our policies have proven that there’s been a drop in the number of deaths and hospitalizations. I think this is a matter of ideology versus pragmatism.”
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