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For security, LIRR moves lockers

(The following report by Jennifer Maloney appeared on the Newsday website on June 13.)

NEW YORK The state Department of Transportation is moving bicycle lockers away from seven Long Island Rail Road stations because of fears that they could be used to hide bombs instead of bikes.

Acting on a 2005 request from Metropolitan Transportation Authority police, the DOT finally has found alternate locations for the bike lockers on nearby municipal parking lots, said DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters. The DOT will spend $89,000 demolishing the lockers on LIRR property and installing newer, sturdier lockers elsewhere, Peters said.

"There have not been any known terrorist incidents involving bicycle lockers nationwide," Peters said. "Nevertheless, we are doing our best to address the MTA's concerns."

Others said not to bother.

"I think they're wasting their time," said Gerry Bringmann, chairman of the LIRR Commuters Council. "I think there are more serious concerns they should be focusing on than some bike lockers at remote stations on Long Island."

MTA Police Assistant Deputy Chief Kathleen Finneran, commander of the eastern region, said lockers near stations and tracks are "a security issue. It endangers the customers."

The DOT, which has installed bike lockers for commuters at 15 stations across Long Island, will remove lockers from the Ronkonkoma, Central Islip, Hicksville, Farmingdale, Oakdale, Port Jefferson and Wantagh stations, Peters said. The department will begin moving them in a few weeks, starting at Port Jefferson.

MTA police said they have told the DOT that they would like bike lockers moved away from eight other stations, but the MTA has no jurisdiction over those lockers because they are not on LIRR property. Peters said the DOT had not received a request to move the other lockers.

At least three of those eight stations - Greenlawn, Patchogue and Stony Brook - have lockers within 25 feet, Peters said. New lockers planned for Southampton also will be within 25 feet of the station, she said.

The lockers - about 3 feet high and 6 feet long - free up parking spaces by providing a secure spot for commuters to lock their bikes, she said. About half of the lockers currently are rented out, and three stations have waiting lists, she said.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

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