Category Archives: Popular

What to do with streets?

I read an intresting article called The Great Debate: Vehicular vs. Segregated Cycling by Stacey Moses which introduces the debate over what to do with streets. Is it better to integrate bicycles by treating them the same as cars for the purposes of position in the street, or would it be better for the bicycles to separate them with special lanes or a physical separation like concrete? I wonder.

The official stance of ABC, I believe, is to follow what was laid out in the Albany Bicycle Master Plan which advocates for bike lanes from the physically separated to the integrated.

Most bikers will tell you, especially the ones that are just starting to ride in traffic, that they prefer bike lanes to riding in the same lanes as cars. For most cases I would say, at least for me, that this is true. When I am riding down Central Ave. I say a prayer the entire way that some car does not side swipe me onto the sidewalk, and believe me this almost happened a few times. Although there have been time where I have found it easier to ride in front of cars on a four lane road then take to the sidewalk.

I have talked to many people about this, drivers and cyclists alike, and from a driver’s prospective the most prevalent and pervasive comment is that, “Bicycles should not be in the road anyway” to which spawn a twenty minuet “your wrong” fest in which no side really makes any headway.

So are bike lanes the answer, or is that admitting to the drivers out they that, “Yeah we don’t belong on the road. So we have to change the road to accommodate ourselves?” Maybe riding with traffic is the way to go to say to motorists that we do belong in the road and we are here weather you like it or not, something the Critical Mass event seems to be trying to do.

Who knows? If we had the answer it would not be a debate. All we can do is look at what other people have done and try to emulate what works. I encourage you to read the article and decide for yourself. Also, check out the comments at the bottom. Some of the people make good points.

If you have something to say pleas feel free to leave a comment.

Written by Chris Belsole

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Cyclists Pay For Our Roads, Too!

One argument that seems to pop up with the anti-bike crowd is that cyclists don’t pay their fair share of the costs associated with road maintenance and construction. While intuition should tell you that the costs of cyclists on our roadways is minimal, due to the small amount of wear that bicycles cause on our roads, many use it as an excuse for not supporting projects for bicycle related infrastructure (bikeways, signs, trails, lanes, etc).

As it turns out, cyclists not only pay their fair share: they often subsidize cars.

From the article:

Trier, like a lot of misinformed folks, seems to believe the only road taxes we pay are motor vehicle licensing fees and fuel taxes. But the truth is that those fees largely pay for state and federal highways, and even then only a portion of them. The rest of the costs of those roadways are borne by all taxpayers generally, including bicyclists, through local, property and sales taxes. Local roads, where you find most cyclists, are another story altogether.

Indeed, most bicyclists in fact also own cars, so they’re also paying the licensing fees and gas taxes as well. But by using their bikes in place of cars, the wear and tear (and subsequent maintenance costs) they inflict is exponentially less than that caused by cars and trucks.

A 1995 study titled “Whose Roads?” by cycling advocate Todd Litman laid all this out in detail. The study estimated that automobile users pay an average of 2.3 cents per mile in user fees, including fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, while they actually impose 6.5 cents per mile in road service costs. Who pays the difference? It’s picked up by general taxes and property assessments. So while bicyclists pay an equal share of those taxes, they impose costs averaging only 0.2 cents per mile in road service costs.

The amount bicyclists overpay leaps out when you look at the costs of local roads, the roads cyclists use most. Litman found that only a third of the funds for their construction and maintenance comes from vehicle user charges; local property, income and sales taxes pay the rest. Automobile user fees contribute only about 1 cent per mile toward the costs of local roads but simultaneously impose costs more than six times that amount.

Beyond that, cyclists reduce pollution, reduce traffic congestion, and lower healthcare costs by living healthier lifestyles.

So, we should all feel entitled to safer streets that make room for us. We’re paying for it!

You can read the full column by David Neiwert here.

Here is a PDF of the traffic study this is taken from.

Written by Ken Burford

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What are you wearing in winter?

Winter cycling is something I look forward to with great excitement and trepidation. I have so many questions that I want to ask without knowing exactly what they are. All I can do is try to prepare with what I know and hope that I come out on top and not on the black top. Here are some things that I am considering:

1. SKS Commuter Bicycle Fender Set: I should have gotten these a while ago as it would have kept my bike a lot cleaner, but in the coming winter months I am really going to need them as rain is nothing compared to snow when it comes to dirtying your bike.

2. Outdoor Research Ninjaclava Balaclava: I need a balaclava for a few reasons. The foremost of which is to keep my face warm on those cold winter days. The nerd in me says, “Hey, as long as you are getting a mask for your face why not look like a ninja?” So here’s my question, should I wear goggles with this or is it not meant for goggles?

3. Full Face Mask-Orange Flame W11S23D: I was torn between getting a balaclava and a face mask for a while when it finally dawned on me, “Why not get both?” So here it is. The problem with the face masks and the half masks is that a lot of them are all really scary. I think my goal here is not to look like a maniac, but to keep my face warm and rain free. Does anyone have any suggestions on masks?

4. Half face Mask – Spider Web W11S25D: I don’t know if I’d like the full or half mask better so I came to the same conclusion as before, get both! I was always a fan of Spider-Man so this just made sense.

There are two items I haven’t decided on mostly because I haven’t researched them yet. These are goggles and full fingered gloves. If anyone has any suggestions I would be glad to hear them in the comments.

Written by Chris Belsole

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Fuller Road/Washington Avenue Intersection Reconstruction Project

The Fuller Road/Washington Avenue Intersection Reconstruction Project is, officially, an undertaking to improve pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, reconstruct the existing asphalt and concrete pavement, improve safety for all modes of travel, and to minimize the construction impact on the traveling public. What the intersection is now is a giant crossroads where, if you are a pedestrian or a cyclist, it can be a little daunting to traverse. There are three main options that the project committee has laid out for what to do with the intersection. Continue reading

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What is the best alternate transportation for you?

Since I have lived a car-free lifestyle for the past six months, not of my own choice rather out of necessity, I have become very familiar with the alternate transportation system of getting from here to there that Albany has to offer. If you want to live a greener, and I hate this phrase, more carbon neutral life here are some of your options:

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