Category Archives: City Review

People on Bicycles – Welcome to Albany!

The City of Albany recently installed bicycle lanes on Northern Blvd. at Rt. 377/Van Rensselaer Blvd.  This is one of the major entries to the city.  The new lanes run from Van Rensselaer Blvd. to the Rt. 9 overpass.  The understanding from Albany Police Department’s Division of Traffic Safety is that, at some point, the lanes will be extended on into the city passing Memorial Hospital, a couple charter schools, and the (former) Livingston Middle School (being converted into residences).

??????????????????????????????? A closer look shows 5+ foot paved shoulders, 6 foot bicycle lanes, 12-foot right-hand (inside) lane on the south-east side (11 on the north-west side), and a left (outside) lane of about 11 feet.

Installation of the new lanes comes after a long dry spell since lanes were put in on Clinton Ave. (from Ten Brock to Lexington).  The Northern Blvd. area has always been a challenging ride.  The presence of the bicycle lanes should cause some traffic calming and may encourage more people to commute on bicycles.???????????????????????????????

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Filed under Activism, Bike Lanes, City Review

Is There Hope for I-787?

tumblr_l3fmm8IrTN1qzl4rno1_500On 3/4/15, the Times Union stated that “Supporters of the effort to give downtown Albany more access to the Hudson River should take heart from what’s happening 300 miles to our west” and then described how Buffalo/Niagara falls is ridding itself of  a 2-mile stretch of parkway to allow enjoyment of the Niagara Gorge and Falls.

Read the complete story here.
Albany now has a chance to right a 50-year-old disaster, the riverside I-787 and return it to a surface street with city-appropriate speed limits, traffic patterns and cross streets.

I-787 is just one of many misguided “all-car-all-the-time” projects that plague Buffalo, Binghamton, Endicott, Syracuse, and other cities across the state and nation – four-lane, limited access highways that cut cities and neighborhoods in half, block views of architecture, lakes and rivers, and add to noise, congestion and crashes.

Depending on which plan is adopted, the I-787 change may cost between $30 million and $50 million.  Not cheap, but there always seems to be plenty of public funds for local motor-centric projects like the following:

  • $99.7 million to add two more motor vehicle lanes to the 7 miles between exists 23 and 24 NYS Thruway ($14 million per mile)
  • $18 million for the fly over etc. on Fuller Road
  • $29 million for the repaving the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge (Kosciusko, 1746 – 1817, Hero of America and Poland)

The paper noted “. . . the Riverfront Arterial, the steel and concrete roadway that became Interstate 787 was part of the massive Empire State Plaza project. Thousands of state employees needed [it] to get in and out every workday. A massive highway system was deemed more important than maintaining access to the scenic Hudson River.”

Stay tuned for public meetings where those who care about a new and lively Albany can speak their piece.

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Filed under Activisim, City Review, Riding in Albany, Support the Cause

Time is Running Out – Protected Bicycle Lanes Needed in Albany

tumblr_mbppcbAY5g1qz7afco1_1280If we want protected and/or separated bicycle lanes, we need to push for them. Remember, if you are getting this e-mail, it is likely that you are already interested in cycling or in supporting cycling. However, please recall that protected bicycle lanes may not be for YOU but they are for those who want to ride but who are unaware of this campaign.

Please support your desire for progressive bicycle facilities by writing to the mayor (or the addressee you prefer).

       The Honorable Kathy Sheehan

             Office of the Mayor

             City Hall, Rm. 102

             24 Eagle St.

             Albany, NY 12207

If you live, work, or do business in the City of Albany, you should feel more than comfortable writing to the mayor. If not, write to your town supervisor or other official instead.

Author a to-the-point letter on why you want safe protected or separated cycling facilities in the City of Albany. Your request could be in general or specifically for both Madison Ave. AND the link connecting the new Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail to the re-built Quay St. protected bicycle lanes at the Albany Corning Preserve.

Use your own arguments or chose from the following Protected Bicycle Lane benefits:

  1. Protected Bicycle Lanes shield people on bicycles with a physical barrier. They are the safest, most inviting way to ride.
  2. Local business benefit from Protected Bicycle Lanes.
  3. Safer for all – 40-50% fewer crashes for people on bicycles, on foot, or in cars.
  4. Protect people on bicycles with a physical barrier. Ordinary bike lanes not protected from traffic.
  5. Less pollution and wear and tear on streets.

 

If you want a sample letter to get you started, go here.

If you want to review and use other points, go here.

Sign and mail your letter.

If you have additional addresses (e.g., town supervisor, Common Council member, NYS Assembly or Senate member, neighborhood association) who you think need to get behind Protected Bicycle Lanes, send then each a similar letter/e-mail.

If you do not feel that protected bicycle lanes are a good fit for part of Albany’s bicycle route system, would you write to support your own ideas for making a better place for people on bicycles? How about: education about on bicycles for people in cars, way finding signage, conventional bicycle lanes, re-engineered roadways and intersections, bike boxes at some intersections, advance green lights for people on bicycles, maintenance of existing bicycle and shared lanes (e.g., Clinton Ave. and Western Ave. in Guilderland), special training for police officers on investigating crashes involving people on bicycles hit by cars, removing pejorative laws that impeded cycling, adding “no bicycles” signage on sidewalks, city-sponsored League of American Bicyclists “smart cycling” classes, or whatever else you think will help.

After you’re done and if you have not done so already, “like” both of these Facebook sites:

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Filed under Activisim, City Review, protected bicycle lanes

Sometimes I Take the Sidewalk

From “Let’s Go Ride a Bike,”  8/29/09

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.

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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

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*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.

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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.

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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.

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