Category Archives: City Review

Sometimes I Take the Sidewalk

[or~ “Get on the #%$~^@ sidewalk where you &++#@!*$ Belong!]

Bikes belong in the street, not on the sidewalk. In fact, it is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride on a sidewalk in Chicago*. Riding in the street is generally safer because you are visible, while on the sidewalks you encounter pedestrians, cross streets, alleys, and parking lot entrances where drivers don’t expect to see bikes. Riding in the street is also generally faster and smoother, on better-maintained pavement instead of concrete blocks. Finally, riding in the street sends the correct message to drivers: that bikes belong.

Despite all of this, sometimes I take the sidewalk. Very rarely and only on the arterial streets when there is no way around them. This is the type of Chicago street where you’ll find the Targets and the McDonalds. Four lanes, two in each direction, no shoulder, definitely no bike lane, high speeds, and ginormous potholes. Meanwhile, the pedestrian-free sidewalks beckon. For these reasons, if I absolutely cannot avoid taking these streets, I usually ride on their sidewalks.

The most recent sidewalk expedition was on Thursday night, as my destination was on an arterial street and it’s the only way to get across the highway and river dividing the east and west sides. On top of everything, it was dark and raining. After studying Google maps in preparation for the trip, I decided that I would take side streets as far as possible and then hop on the sidewalk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am more interested in getting from point A to point B safely than in sending a message or exuding street cred (which is hard to exude on an Omafiets, anyway). 98% of the time it is safer to ride in the street, and even when I decide to take the sidewalk, it is only safer if I follow these rules:

  • Ride slowly.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and either slow to a crawl or walk your bike past them (if a sidewalk has a lot of pedestrians, don’t even try riding your bike on it).
  • Keep an eye out for alleys, driveways, parking lots or any other place from which a car could spring. Be extra cautious and look both ways.
  • At cross streets try to cross with the light in the cross walk. Assume that drivers do not see you. They certainly don’t expect anything faster than a pedestrian. Look over your shoulder for turning traffic.

This particular ride was more stressful and took longer than normal rides in the street because I had to slow and stop at so many intersections. Although I passed no pedestrians, I passed a few bikes – a couple on the sidewalk and a couple in the street. Did I feel a little sheepish when I passed the street riders? Sure, but not sheepish enough to throw myself in a situation where I did not feel safe.

The problem is that the city traffic design completely disregards bikes at the most dangerous areas, such as crossing rivers and highways. (Read about this problem in more detail at Chicago Bike Blog, where the author eventually decides to take arterial street sidewalks for a particular route with her son). So for those who are passionately against sidewalk riding under any circumstances, I respect that, but don’t hate the player, hate the game.

SOURCE: Let’s Go Ride a Bike,  8/29/09

__________

*NOTES: New York State appears to be typical in that the Vehicle and Traffic Law 5 does not regulate sidewalk bicycling. It appears that the General Municipal Law (Section 180) 6  states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks. They cannot require that bicyclists use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits to sidewalk bicycling. ALBANY CODE – § 359-4 Riding on sidewalks prohibited; exceptions. – No person shall ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on or over any footpath in any of the parks, or on or over any of the sidewalks of any of the streets or avenues in this City, except if it is to go into a yard, lot or building; provided, however, that the foregoing provision of this section shall not apply to children under 10 years of age; and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit the riding of any bicycle, tricycle or similar vehicle upon or over the unpaved portion of the sidewalk of any such street or streets outside of the thickly settled part of the City as shall be designated in writing by the Mayor.  Every designation so made as aforesaid shall be filed with the Chief of Police and may be revoked by the Mayor at any time in his discretion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leave a comment

Filed under Activisim, City Review, Feature, Riding in Albany

Rally for Albany’s South End Bikeway Link – Urgency and Benefits

Rally For Albany’s South End Bikeway Link  – Urgency and Benefits

  1. Wednesday, January 21, 2015
  2. 6:00 to 8:00 pm
  3. Albany Public Library – Main Branch
  4. 161 Washington Ave.
  5. Parking lot in rear of library on Elk Street and on the street (street meters go “off” at 6 PM).

Join other stakeholders to discuss the recreational and economic benefits “the link” offers to connect local residents and neighboring communities. Together, our voices can be heard to build a safer path to the Hudson River/downtown Albany.??????????????????????

Advocates and stakeholders will meet on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 6-8 pm, Albany Public Library Main Branch, Auditorium, 161 Washington Ave., Albany.

???????????????????????????????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By mid October, the 128-year-old Albany Susquehanna coal hauling rail line re-opens as a multi-use path for people on bicycles, walking, or running. It will stretch 9.3 scenic miles from Albany’s Port at Rt. 32/South Pearl St through Delmar to the Village of Voorheesville. While from Western New York, the 360-mile Erie Canalway/Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail abruptly stops at Albany’s waterfront Corning Preserve. Between the trails lay a 1.5-mile gap — one that forces cyclists onto rushing car commuters on Route 32 and neighborhood streets that are lacking any facilities for people on bicycles except for a few shared lane markings on S. Pearl St.

???????????????????????????????

Leave a comment

Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, City Review, Meetings, protected bicycle lanes

A Kick in the Head . . .

??????????????????????

While not directly related to bicycles (other than “livable community,” “shop local,” etc.), the New Year 2015 will not be blessed with the best pastry shop in the area – Crisan (197 Lark St., 445-2727). Iggy and Claudia have announced that their business is converting to wholesale/special orders model and will no longer host a street side café.

Crisan has been a busy mainstay on Lark St. for six years. It offered the best pastry in the area, delicious coffee, and gelato in a courteous, welcoming atmosphere. It was common to find all three tables fully occupied and a long line at the counter. In all but the coldest months, the three outside tables were a great spot to “see and be seen” and enjoy the goodness of Crisan.

While this change is a real loss, rest assured that “Crisan Bakery & Edible Art Gallery” will provide you the best (and most attractive) cakes and pastries you can envision.

Leave a comment

Filed under City Review, Comings and Goings

Traffic Signal Improvements – Washington, Western, and New Scotland Avenues

The City of Albany released the below “Traffic Signal Improvement Project” information.

There is also a major NYSDOT intersection redesign/re-signalization on 15.4 miles of State St. in Schenectady to Central Ave. at King St. in Albany.  For info on this second project, contact Beau Duffy, 457-6400.  The most visible aspect of this project has been the recent and on-going “See and Be Seen” promotion/educational program.  While the main emphasis has been on people walking and people in cars, there should be a collateral benefit to people on bicycles.

++++++ City of Albany Text Follow with Contact Info ++++++

Traffic Signal Improvement Project – Washington, Western and New Scotland Avenues, City Of Albany

Project Newsletter

October 23, 2014

Investigating Crash - Colonie  11-8-14 Pedestrian Crash - Dotts Gargae 11-8-14The City of Albany has begun the replacement/rehabilitation/upgrade of traffic signal equipment on Washington, Western, and New Scotland Avenues. This project involves the complete replacement or upgrades to sixty-one signalized intersections within the City of Albany.  The project limits for each roadway are as follows: Washington Avenue, eighteen (18) intersections over 3.4 miles, from the eastern connection with Western Avenue west to the intersection with SUYNA’s main entrance; Western Avenue, twenty-four (24) intersections over 3.1 miles, from the eastern connection with Washington Avenue west to Homestead Street; New Scotland Avenue, nineteen (19) intersections over 2.7 miles, from Madison Avenue to Whitehall Road.  All construction activities will occur within the City right of way.  The contractor performing the work will be Stilsing Electric, Inc. from Rensselaer, NY.  The project kicked off in late September with work scheduled to continue through the end of 2015.  Should the winter weather require us to shut down or slow down the contractors work, the project will extend into early 2016.

 Project Description: Each of the intersections on the project will receive equipment that will improve transportation for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic.  New control equipment, vehicle traffic signal heads, pedestrian signal heads and countdown timers, pedestrian pushbuttons, and vehicle detectors will be installed at each intersection.  At a majority of the intersections, new traffic signal support poles will also be installed, with the existing pole reused at the remaining intersections.  We will interconnect the traffic signals to allow for a coordinated progression of green signals on each corridor based upon time of day and predominant traffic flow.  We will enhance and improve pedestrian crossings by installing pedestrian signals, countdown timers, and pushbuttons.  The traffic signal coordination/progression will be based upon the posted 30 mile per hour speed limit.  The progression will move groups of traffic through the corridor at the posted speed limit.  A central system will monitor each intersection through a wireless or wired interconnect that will be constructed as part of the project.  This central system will allow for City maintenance personnel to remotely monitor operations and make some changes to the traffic signals that are connected to the system.  New traffic signal timings will be implemented that will assure both vehicles and pedestrians have the appropriate time to navigate the intersections and corridors.  As part of the timing intervals, a minimum four-second yellow time and minimum one-second all red (all traffic stopped) time between vehicle movements/phases will be programmed.  The project will also have equipment that will work with emergency response vehicles to permit a green signal in the direction of the responding vehicle and display red to the other approaches at an intersection.  In addition, this equipment will work with CDTA buses for the future BRT project proposed for these corridors.

 Daily Work Hours: The Contractor is authorized to work 10-hour days six days a week, 6AM-6PM Monday through Saturday.  Although they are authorized to work these hours and days, in general they are working 6:30 AM until 4PM Monday through Friday.  The additional day and hours have been authorized to allow the contractor to perform work activities in areas where traffic prohibits their safe work at particular locations.

 Current Work Schedule for the next 14 days: Thee Contractor will begin installing the portions of the new signal systems that are underground, to include conduits and pole foundations.  This work has begun on Washington Avenue from the west end of the project at SUNYA’s main entrance and is progressing east toward Washington Avenue and Brevator Street.  It is anticipated that the work on in this area will continue for the next week.  After the groundwork is completed in these areas, it is anticipated that the contractor will move their activities to Western Avenue starting at the western end of the project, Homestead Street, and progress east.

 Project Contact Information: If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this project you can call or visit the project office during regular business hours.

Creighton Manning Engineering, LLP is the City’s design and construction firm overseeing the work activities

Washington, Western, and New Scotland Avenues Traffic Signal Project Office

50 Colvin Avenue

Suite 104

Albany, New York 12206

Phone: (518) 650-7621

Fax: (518) 650-7623

Email: albanysignalswwn@cmellp.com

Resident Engineer for this project: Mr. Thomas Giammattei

 

Should you have any project questions that you would like to direct to the City of Albany, you may also contact Bill Trudeau, Chief Supervisor of Traffic Engineering at (518) 434-5791

The City will be providing updated newsletters as construction progresses.

Leave a comment

Filed under City Review, Riding in Albany

Race to the Bottom . . . More Car Parking in ‘Toga

In the 11/4/14 Times Union Ian Klepetar, “Mr. Bicycle Benefits,” bemoaned the public funding of more parking for people in cars in downtown Saratoga – not only is it more parking but 5 ugly stories of it.

Sadly this is in a community with one of the few walkable downtowns in the area with plenty of on-street parking nearby  . . . a city that depends on people walking for its business vitality, that experiences most of its parking demand during walkable/rideable weather, and that hosts a vibrant bicycle advocacy group – Bikeatoga.

It’s too bad that a fraction of what a parking garage will cost cannot be pumped into facilities for people on bicycles and on foot.  As always, every new bicycle on the road is one more parking place, one fewer car at the red light, one less chance to get killed, and a ton less crap in the air.

Leave a comment

Filed under Activisim, City Review