Category Archives: Bicycle Boulevards

College of St. Rose Picks Up on ABC Position on Madison Avenue Traffic Calming

The College of St. Rose “Chronicle” nicely picked up on the Madison Avenue Traffic Calming letter ABC sent to Albany Police Department’s Traffic Engineering. ABC voiced support for the “traffic calming” proposals put forth but asked that the bicycle lanes be six (not five) feet wide. This sentiment was echoed in the article by recently re-elected (in the face of anti-bicycle lanes backlash) 10th Ward Common Council Member Leah Golby.

History buffs – and bicycle and pedestrian advocates looking for support for their own cause – will enjoy the comments by City Historian Tony Opalka about the “transposition powerhouse of the day” (the canal lobby) banning railroads from crossing the Great Western Turnpike (Western and Madison Aves.). If you ratchet up the dates to the present and the contenders (motor vehicle/big petro/big construction lobbies vs. cyclists and pedestrians) you’ll see that we are in the same fix today – those who have a right to locomotion are constrained by road and street design from exercising that right in safety.bike-in-traffic

The Text of the ABC letter follows:

Since April 16, 2013 when Creighton-Manning presented its suggested Madison Ave. “road diet” treatments for Madison Ave., the Albany Bicycle Coalition has considered many different approaches, and has concluded that there is only one that maximizes bicyclist safety, and would, therefore, encourage new cyclists. That approach is a modified “Option C” (in-road bicycle lanes), with the bicycle lanes widened to six feet to provide a sufficient safety margin.

By way of explanation, ABC’s goals remain firmly as follows:

• Calm Traffic on Madison Ave. – For the benefit of cyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and motorists.
• Make Madison Ave. the City’s Main East-West Bicycle Corridor – Of our three radial streets, only the Madison-Western Ave. combination offers all the desired benefits without negative impact on other street users. It has all the major destinations and connects easily with all major cross streets. With its expected continuation east to the river and west to Guilderland, it will be the heart of the long-needed “river-to-Fuller” bicycle route.

The consulting engineer’s Madison Ave. traffic calming study suggested only three options to meet the goals of that road diet. The suggested options (with ABC annotations) are as follows:

A. Shared Lanes in Travel Lanes – This option is unsuited to most cyclists. While shared lane have been installed elsewhere in the city to great benefit, their use on Madison Ave. would undercut the goal of its being a major route suited to cyclists of all skill levels.
B. Shared Lanes in Parking Lanes – This option seems to be used rarely elsewhere and exacerbates the potential for collisions between cyclists and opening doors of parked vehicles. ABC members who have ridden these “parking-bicycle lanes” found them unsuitable. This option should be considered only as a last resort.
C. Five-Foot Bicycle Lanes – This is the preferred of the three options. However, we believe that five-foot lanes would deter many would-be cyclists. The margin of safety with five-foot bicycle lanes is just not sufficient.

Thus, these three options have extremely limited potential for bringing new cyclists onto the streets. Options A and B might be suitable for experienced cyclists, but those cyclists are already accustomed to riding on streets with no bicycling features at all.

The overarching goal for the City of Albany is to build cycling infrastructure that will attract current non-riders, as well as those who hesitate to ride on the street with motorized traffic. Only by working toward this goal can we realize lower pollution, more parking, less traffic congestion, more public safety, improved health, and increased pedestrian use of the streets.

Consistent with that goal, our position is that a modified Option C – with wider bike lanes – is the best way to bring about the city’s objectives:

• The consulting engineer’s Option C consists of five-foot bicycle lanes located at the right side of the travel lane, adjacent to the parking lane.
• However, based on our extensive experience, five feet is not sufficient to protect cyclists from car doors, and from wide commercial vehicles parked at the curb.
• Therefore, we propose that the bicycle lanes be a minimum of six feet wide. Our design obtains the extra two feet (total) by subtracting approximately eight inches from each of the three motor vehicle drive lanes.

These modifications are feasible and justifiable. They vastly improve the safety of Option C, and they preserve the intent of the consulting engineer’s proposal. If implemented, they will provide a safe, inviting, Madison-Western east-west bicycle corridor that the city needs in order to become a real bicycling community.

We look forward to working with you and other project staff and supporters to realize the development of the Madison Ave. bicycle route.

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Art and (Bicycle) Access

Art and (Bicycle) Access – 1st Friday Gallery Spin and Bicycle Boulevard Mapping  – A number of new 1st Friday Gallery Spin riders plus some regulars departed the Soldiers and Sailor Monument in Washington Park for the traditional first stop at the Upstate Artists Guild.  The show there, “Fashion and Art,” was a real treat with live models/mannequins showing off some of the wearable entries.  There was a nice array of fashion-themed 2-D art in the main, back, and side galleries, all augmented by a DJ.

We next zipped out Delaware Ave. (love those shared lane makings and signs!) to disrupt the diners at Mingle  by examining an impressive mix of paintings and photographs (including one bicycle-themed piece).  On the way, we waved to baby Indiana and her parents, Laura and Perry, longtime cycling advocates.

We were then off to the Opalka Gallery for a must-see show featuring John Van Alstine, “Arrested Motion/Perilous.  Do not miss this one (ends 10/14/12).  Our last gallery visit was the Massery at College of St. Rose for the closing night of the Art and Design Faculty Show.  As one of our riders expressed interest in displaying his art in Albany, we checked out the Madison Theater windows  where the theater and the Beautify Upper Madison Avenue Project sponsors installations by local artists.  There we saw Matt Ramsey’s commissioned piece for the Upper Madison Street Fair, “When We Destroy the World Around Us, We Destroy Ourselves” and an installation by Kimberly Marks of College of St. Rose student entries to the Street Fair poster contest.  (As a side note, the Upper Madison Street Fair – 2012 will feature an Exotic Bicycle Exhibit .

As an add-on to this 1st Friday Gallery Spin, we were committed to reconnoitering Berkshire Blvd. and connecting city streets.

Berkshire Blvd. is designated officially in the Albany Bicycle Master Plan (page 39) as a “neighborhood bikeway.  Our interest was to explore the possibility of its being the main spine of a bicycle boulevard connecting the western extremes of the city to downtown.  As a bicycle boulevard, this would be a low-volume street optimized for bicycle travel by traffic calming and diversion, signage and pavement markings, and intersection treatments.

Bicycle boulevards are shared roadways that are comfortable and attractive to cyclists with a range of abilities and ages.  Ideally, they are inconvenient as through routes for automobiles.  Bicycle boulevards serve major origins, destinations, and travel corridors and should be as direct and intuitive as possible.  As a residential roadway, Berkshire Blvd. already has low motor vehicle volume and could serve well as a bicycle boulevard. As with many bicycle-focused improvements, there would be spillover benefits to the Berkshire Blvd. community – less speeding, more quiet, enhanced walk-ability.

If it were so designated, some low-cost treatments could include the following:

  • Prioritizing bicycle movement with stop signs that favor the bicycle route
  • Reducing motor vehicle speeds by traffic calming
  • Reducing motor vehicle volumes by traffic diversion
  • Providing crossing improvements at intersections with major streets (refuge islands, signalization, or curb extensions)
  • Helping cyclists find and use the facility with pavement markings and signs with both directional and destination information, which are likely to be destinations

After circling one of Albany’s gens, Buckingham Pond, we headed out Berkshire, crossed Russell Rd., wound through Albany’s 15th Ward, rode trough parts of Bethlehem, and ended up in Guilderland looking across Western Ave. to the glare of Crossgates Mall.  The route we rode – which avoids the high volume/high speed Western Ave. completely – presents political challenges (impact on motor vehicle traffic) and jurisdictional issues (it encompasses streets Albany, Guilderland, Bethlehem, a town park, and some private property).

Our Riders were Sebastian, Jim, John, Filipe, Keith, Paul, and Lorenz.

More to follow . . .

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Filed under Activism, Bicycle Boulevards, City Review, First Friday, Local Bike Rides, Rides, Support the Cause

Where Can I Ride? It’s All About NOW

Want to measure progress on implementation of Albany’s Bicycle Master Plan?  See the “Complete Updates” map.

In 2009, Albany issued its approved Albany Bicycle Master Plan.  This was later adopted by the Albany Common Council within “Albany 2030,” the governing master plan for the entire city.

The ABMP featured a “20-Year Bikeway Network Plan”, an ambitious look forward to major routes, neighborhood bikeways, trails and greenways, and connecting bikeways outside the city limits.  IBI Group Consultants prepared this visionary map under contract with Albany’s Planning Office with input from hundreds of cyclists and other interested persons.

Beginning in 2010 (when Albany boasted about 500 feet (!) of marked bicycle lanes), the city has forged ahead starting with bicycle lanes on Clinton Ave. (0.8 miles) and shared lanes/signs on Washington Ave. (0.6 miles).

Shared Lanes

Shared Lanes

As the city has repaved streets (2012 has been a banner year for this much-needed effort), it has marked many of them with the shared lane icons and signage.  These include Delaware-Lark, Academy, and portions of Western, Main, Manning, Lincoln, New Scotland, Hackett, McCarty and others.

So here’s an idea – print out the “Complete Updates” map and then invite a friend(s) to cruise around the city to visit all the completed sections.  Then – call the mayor during his Friday morning radio talk show (9:00-10:00 AM, 476-1300, AM 1300) and say “thanks.”

(Check back with the Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability for updates.)

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Filed under Activism, Bicycle Boulevards, City Review, Law, Local Bike Rides, Support the Cause

Midtown Lane Sharing

Implementation of the Albany Bicycle Master Plan recently took a step forward with the installation of Shared Lane pavement markings on the repaved section of Western Ave. from N. Allen (“The Point”) to S. Main Ave. The makings also continue south of S. Main’s new surface. One might assume that the repaved S. Main from Manning/Bradford/Kent to Western Ave. will also get the markings. This is in line with Albany’s marking road surfaces as it repaves them. Marking about 0.8 miles might seem a small step except that the four involved heavily trafficked intersections – Allen/Madison/Western, Western/W. Lawrence, Western/S. Main, and S. Main/Madison – will benefit from these helpful warnings to both cyclists and motorists. These markings also pave the way for the planned reconfiguration of Madison Ave. into Albany’s premier east-west bicycle corridor – 2 bicycle lanes, 2 parking lanes, 2 driving lanes, and 1 turning lane).

Shared Lane Marker in Use

Shared Lane Marker in Use

So, get off that couch and take a self-guided tour of Albany’s bicycle amenities!

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Filed under Activism, Bicycle Boulevards, City Review, Local Bike Rides

Oh Sweet Innovation – BKME

Ah BKME, sweet innovative activism!

Bike Lanes from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

Bicycles are a great means of transportation – they run on fat and save you cash, opposed from their counter parts which run on cash and make you fat! They are welcome in  cities all across the world. City planners in Portland, Amsterdam, Seattle, New York City and even here in Albany have incorporated encoraging bicycle lanes into their designs. This is great, until motor vehicles start to use bicycle lanes as their parking spots! Luckly we are we have smart people on our side.

Here’s one innovation we could use for evidence to encourage bicycle boulevards.  It’s called BKME. If we were to document all the hazards along the bike lanes in Albany, which there are many, this may go a long way to convince planners that bicycle boulevards would be a safe design. Another note – some of our main streets don’t have bike lanes… what happened to safety first?

From BKME.org

Image from The Bird Wheel

About la velolución

BKME.ORG is a platform that channels the power of cyclists to reclaim bikelanes from vehicles.

We use #BKME on Twitter to collectively defend our bikelanes in realtime, everywhere.

Join the Velolucion.

Who We Are

We are cyclists in NYC.These bikelanes belong exclusively to us.We are determined to defend them to stay alive.

This is why we made bkme.org, as a way to authorize urban access for us all.Think of it as an Open Data platform for collectively recording each violation against our bikelanes, socially in real time.

We are all connected and we must participate in this revolution together.Starting now we always bike together.Join us and defend your bikelane.

This is just the beginning.Viva la Velolución.

Interested?

Keep in mind we are in super alpha but we are working hard to make BKME even better.

Here is how to join in:

Whether on bike or on foot, Use your mobile device and take a photo of the offending vehicle, take down the license plate andtweet it all to #bkme with your GPS location enabled (here’s how toget a Twitter account and activate geolocation on your device).

We are working on some really cool ideas for the future.To stay current, follow us at @bkme_ny.

Have a comment or suggestions, want to go for a ride? Awesome! We would love to hear from you! Send us an email at us@bkme.org

Yours,The BKME Community

I also want to note that I went through NYS transportation laws. I was unable to find any law prohibiting parking in bicycle lanes by motor vehicles. Here are the laws.

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Filed under Activism, Bicycle Boulevards