Albany Bicycle Coalition Positions on the Proposed Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan

The City of Albany is developing an Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan to replace the 2009 such plan. The earlier plan limited itself to bicycle issues while the proposed pan also addresses issues facing pedestrians since the vast majority trips by any alternative mode of transportation begins and ends with people walking.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition (ABC) was heavily involved in the development of the 2009 plan and has been fully engaged in monitoring the current effort. While the city has yet to release a draft of the plan, ABC offers recommendations for the plan as enumerated below. An emphasis of our positions is that the proposed Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan must embrace all forms of transposition since no one form can be addressed independently from the others – that is, “transportation equity.”

The Albany Bicycle Coalition, Inc. takes the opportunity offered by the development of the City of Albany’s Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan to present its transportation ideas for the future of our city. We present our program in two parts as follows:

  • Specific, bicycle-related projects that the city needs to begin work on immediately.
  • Foundational propositions that cover all aspects of the plan whether it impinges on pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders, or motor vehicle drivers.

Our position is that the City of Albany, like many, many cities, allowed itself to become car centric. All transportation issues center around and are decided upon accommodating more and more motor vehicle traffic or upon sustaining current volumes (“Level of Service”). Accordingly, people – regardless of their specific mode of transposition – are subjected to dangerous street conditions, air and noise pollution, and limitations to their enjoyment of the built environment. Our road and street network is completely “behind the times.” We believe that the Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan is really the “Albany Transportation Plan” and, as such, must reach beyond considerations of walking or riding a bicycle to encompass all citizens.

We base many of our propositions on the fundamental belief that our streets, roads, and sidewalks should be safe – not “pretty safe,” or “safer,” but SAFE. There can be no compromise. Sacrificing safety for the convenience of a minority of motor vehicle operators cannot continue.

We believe that the points we set forth in this document can pave the way for bold new thinking. If the City of Albany will embrace a new approach to transportation, it will provide unending benefits to its citizens, will position itself to be competitive in attracting new populations and businesses, and will become a model for other municipalities. The city will be able to cope more effectively with the coming change in the availability of cheap petroleum and increasing pressure to reduce its consumption and replace it with other forms of energy suited to transportation.

Specific, Bicycle-Related Projects

  1. Western Ave. Bicycle Lanes – Connect Western Ave. from Madison Ave. to the Guilderland portion of Western Ave. to form a seamless, calmed commuter and recreational route. Western Ave. from the University at Albany to Madison Ave. at Allen St. has two schools with posted 20 mph zones and many business and residences with exiting and entering traffic. The extra wide double lanes encourage speeding and erratic lane changes threatening everyone’s safety. This is an ideal street for Traffic Calming. This wide street section with essentially no parking has ample room for buffered bicycle lanes without impeding the smooth flow of motor vehicle traffic.
  2. Install bicycle lanes on New Scotland Ave. especially between Manning Blvd. and the Thruway Overpass. Bike lanes were strongly preferred over parking for traffic calming on this section of New Scotland by community members participating in the City’s recent Upper New Scotland Traffic Study.
  3. Install bicycle lanes on Green St. and improve the crossing at Madison Ave. to provide safe downtown bicycle access from South Albany
  4. Complete bicycle lanes on Shaker Rd./Loudonville Rd. to Broadway
  5. Complete bike lanes on North Manning Blvd. from Lark St. to Livingston Ave.
  6. Complete Clinton Ave. bike lanes from Ten Broeck to Broadway where they can connect to the new Albany Skyway and the Empire State Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.
  7. Work with Menands to extend Broadway bike lanes to provide safe downtown bicycle access from Menands to North Albany.
  8. Improve Everett Road I-90 interchange/overpass to make it safe for pedestrians and cyclists who must use this road to cross I-90 and the railroad tracks.
  9. Provide bike lanes and traffic calming for Washington Ave. west of Brevator
  10. Change Belgian blocks (“cobblestones”) on Lark St. and South Pearl St. intersections to a traffic calming surface that does not cause bicyclists to fall.
  11. Coordinate with Colonie and Guilderland to install bike lanes and or multiuse side path along Rapp Road/Lincoln Ave. from the City of Albany’s Rapp Road Waste Management Facility to Village of Colonie’s Cook Park to accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, and hikers using the Pine Bush, Six Mile Waterworks lake, park and trail, and Cook Park trails.
  12. Coordinate with Delmar and Town of Bethlehem to extend Delaware Ave. bike lanes and traffic calming efforts from the Normans Kill Bridge to McAlpin Ave. Establish safe cycling routes from that point to Hackett Blvd. and Madison Ave.
  13. Work with the Town of Colonie to develop the Patroon Creek Greenway from Six Mile Waterworks to Tivoli Lake Preserve and the Albany Skyway
  14. Cross-Town bicycle Expressway – Construct a cross-town connector between Northern Blvd./McCrossin Ave. to Clinton Ave. bicycle lanes and to Whitehall Rd./Delaware Ave.
  15. Extend Hackett Blvd. multi-use path with bicycle lanes to Manning Blvd.
  16. Improve informal path/trail from Lark St. behind Hackett Middle School to Hackett Blvd. multiuse path at Holland Ave. by the McDonald’s

General Principles for the Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan

 Safe Street Infrastructure Improvements

  1. Enhance viewing space for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians at intersections. “Daylight” all intersections as provided in the city parking code to 20 ft from each crossing street by painting curbs yellow and/or with painted “bump outs.” (§ 323-34 Street crossings kept open for passage – “… extending back into each street 20 feet beyond said corner, shall be kept free from all vehicles … “). Create a clear space at all intersections to improve visibility for bicyclists, pedestrians, and operators of motor vehicles. Do this by removing parking for a yet-to-be-determined distance and then “bumping out” the curbs to shorten crossings and prevent motorists from parking in the clear space areas (similar to the Delaware Ave. reconstruction.) Post signs to restrict the parking at corners until funds are available to reconstruct the curbs.
  2. Emphasize “safe streets” over “complete streets.” Make safety the priority in all street designs. New York State law defines a Complete Streets as roadways planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of all roadway … including pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, and motorists (Complete Streets Act – Chapter 398, Laws of New York, 8/15/11). While the law implies that safety will be a considered, it does not make safety the primary goal. Rather, Complete Streets implies a compromise over all mobility modes without paramount consideration for the vulnerability of certain road users. Since most Albany streets and intersections are or were designed for maximum motor vehicle throughput, it stands that no street redesign project proposal should ever consider the null alternative “do nothing.”
  3. Prohibit diagonal or perpendicular parking throughout the city except for previously established Albany Police Department facilities. Backing up is inherently dangerous to cyclists (and to motor vehicles).
  4. Reduce speed limit on all residential streets to 25 mph.
  5. Reduce to 20 mph the speed limit in a newly established “green zone” bounded by Clinton Ave., Broadway, Madison Ave., and Henry Johnson Blvd.
  6. Work with New York State legislators to provide home rule for cities to set speed limits below 30 mph (outside of schools zones). For specific projects, apply for “home rule” for traffic safety advancements such as a “20 Is Plenty” “green zone” described above.
  7. Reduce speed limit on park roads in the City of Albany to 15 mph with traffic calming changes made to roadways to discourage driving over the desired speed. Calming techniques include reducing the width of driving lanes, squaring intersections, installing speed bumps and speed tables, and changing the road surface.
  8. Close parks to all through traffic driving on Sundays between noon and 5 pm
  9. Reduce all in-city motor vehicle travel lanes to 11 ft or less except where the passage of emergency vehicles dictates greater width. These narrowed roadways and/or travel lanes will calm traffic thereby improving traffic safety on the roadways. Each street design project will suggest different approaches to this objective. In some case, for example, painting shoulders might suffice. Other cases might call for bicycle lanes, bicycle lane buffers, or curb relocations.
  10. Post more “No-Turn-on-Red” signs and use illuminated “No-Turn-on-Red” signs that activate at certain periods during the signal cycle or when pedestrian push buttons are active. This will increase pedestrian and bicycle safety. Increase the number of intersection where “no right on red” is the rule especially in areas with high pedestrian and public transport traffic. An example would be for all cross streets on Central Ave.
  11. Analyze intersection crashes to improve intersection safety and then designate these areas for redesign, education, and enforcement. To not limit this investigation to Albany Police Department traffic incident reporting.
  12. Provide motorcycle-only parking spaces. Establish these spaces at the beginning or ends of parking areas on each block (angle parking for motorcycles). Determine the number of spaces per block or area by working with motorcycle groups and the Albany Parking Authority. (This will improve intersection sight lines and reduce risk to motorcycles of parking in conventional parking spaces.)
  13. Review traffic patterns to determine if the city needs to change signs and traffic signals.
  14. Perform a city-wide traffic sign inventory. Reduce number of signs where possible to increase compliance with the posted regulations or warnings. Analyze the results with the following objectives: reducing sign clutter (to increase the utility/impact/effectiveness of the remaining signs); assessing whether signs installed “years ago” are still needed; and assessing whether or not evolving traffic patterns suggest new, revised, or unneeded signage. Continue to prohibit all signage not directly involved with traffic control and safety. Do in phases to control costs. This would dictate removal of all promotional and commercial signage, with the possible exclusion of some directional signage.
  15. Develop a master plan for Traffic Engineering. Develop an Engineering approach to calm aggressive driving.
  16. Analyze on-street parking in the City of Albany with a special emphasis on the following: enhancing viewing space for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians at intersections, restricting parking at intersections, and striping to preclude driver creation of an informal right-turn lane), and establishing pull off/pull out for buses (i.e., analyze problem “stops” and remove parking as indicated). Gradually reduce the number of on-street parking spaces from designated areas to enhance community growth and street-side ambience.
  17. Start and continue a share-the-road campaign to make roadways friendlier for all modes of transportation.
  18. Starting with Albany Police Department traffic/crash data, identify existing danger areas. Analyze the areas for remediation through engineering, education, and enforcement. Consider publishing the results. Consider special signage, lane reconfiguration, road redesign, markings, or speed limits for the identified “danger zones.”
  19. As a rule, reconfigure all intersections to have 90-degree turns to reduce speeds and enhance safety for pedestrians. This will discourage high-speed turns that can be deadly to pedestrians and cyclists.

Bicyclist Specific Safety Improvements

  1. Concentrate on establishing a city-wide network of bicycle facilities rather than on isolated segments.
  2. Restrict installation of shared lanes (“sharrows”) only as provided by National Association of City Transportation Officials in conjunction with bicycle facilities such as bicycle lanes, protected bicycle lanes, and cycle tracks. Although people on bicycles may ride on all non-limited use highways (e.g., interstates), bicycles may at times legally share (or “take”) the traffic lane. Shared lane markings reinforce the legitimacy of bicycle traffic on the street. This is especially true where keeping to the right is unsafe. They serve as a reminder to people in cars that bicycle riders may be present and that they have “taken the lane” for their own safety.
  3. Improve on the League of American Bicyclists’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation.Analyze the suggestions provided by the League of American Bicyclists in its review of City of Albany’s bicycle friendly community designation.
  4. Selectively establish bike-only and or separated bikeways to promote more biking.
  5. Promote work-place bicycle lockup areas for those who ride to work.
  6. Install and build more bicycle accommodations throughout the City including bicycle racks, fix-it stations, lanes, and intersection “bike boxes.”
  7. Install signal detectors capable of identifying bicycles. Mark areas at selected intersections to inform bicyclists where they should be on the pavement to activate the traffic signal at intersections that have actuated approaches.

Pedestrian Specific Safety Improvements

  1. Re-program all on-demand pedestrian crossing lights to a “pedestrian priority” sequence wherein pressing a demand button will provide for crossing immediately after the end of the current motor vehicle phase in the complete cycle. Allow pedestrians to enter their demand even when the street to be crossed is currently red to stop motor vehicle traffic after the next motor vehicle cycle.
  2. At selected signalized intersections, implement an advanced pedestrian interval or exclusive pedestrian phase in the signal operations to improve pedestrian safety. Examples for this treatment include Lark St./Madison Ave. Delaware Ave., Washington Ave. /Lark St., Delaware Ave./Holland Ave./Morton Ave., and Allen St./Madison Ave./Western Ave.
  3. At select signalized intersections, increase yellow clearance times and all red times to increase intersection safety during high pedestrian use hours.
  4. At selected signalized, high-pedestrian-use intersections, employ ALL WAY STOP signalization. Do this in such a way as to not increase or encourage “pause” by people in cars who do not want to continuously stop at intersections.
  5. For pedestrian heavy streets, install midblock crossing locations preferably with raised, sidewalk-high “green zones.” Where appropriate, signalize these midblock crossings (e.g., Central Ave., Washington Ave.)
  6. Install sidewalks on all roadways to encourage walking and improve safety on roadways. This is especially relevant where pedestrians currently have to share the travel lanes with motorists and bicyclists.
  7. Where sidewalks do not exist, install warming signs for motorists and, where appropriate, “walk left” signs for people walking.

Bus/Bus Rider Safety

  1. Establish ADA compliant bus stops in logical locations with bump outs to provide areas where buses can discharge or pick up passengers on the sidewalk and not in the travel, bicycle, or parking lanes.
  2. Coordinate with Capital District Transportation Authority in analyzing “problem” bus stops using CDTA and city data and driver testimony.
  3. Determine what actions the city might take to ease reentry of buses into the traffic lane.
  4. Provide more bus operator traffic signal control.
  5. Wherever possible, implement bus-only travel lanes.
  6. Work with City School District on an engineering approach to school bus safety. This includes safe pickup and drop off locations that still meet all guidelines and laws. Implement School Zone Safety program. Provide bus, parent drop off/pick up areas at each school large enough to accommodate each. This will improve transportation on roadways around the schools. Work with the School District through the education and enforcement groups to ensure the engineering plans are followed. Encourage the School District to embrace traffic safety that goes hand in hand with school safety. Coordinate with the School District on analyzing trouble spots at the exits/entrances of identified schools. Once completed, use this as a model for the public-charter and private schools (perhaps asking them to do a self-analysis)

Other

  1. Priority sequence all of the Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan’s major projects.
  2. Provide a specific time line for each major planned project in the Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan with a completion-by-date specified.
  3. Improved coordination with neighboring municipalities to provide a regional bike transportation network. Pay particular attention to the interface points between municipalities (e.g., Everett Rd. at I-90, Delaware Ave. at the Normanskill, and Western Ave. at the city line with Guilderland).
  4. Divest all City of Albany Parking Authority Parking lots/garages and sell to private business. This will increase the cost of “downtown” parking and provide the city with tax revenues.
  5. Encourage use of park-and-ride. Analyze traffic and public transport data to assess the benefits of having more park-and-rides. Identify businesses/agencies that should be encouraged to support park-and-ride.

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“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

[SOURCE: Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”]

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Lane Markings Clinton Ave. – Refreshing

Unlike longitudinal motor vehicle traffic lane makings, bicycle lanes – like cross walks and stop lines – are subject to continual scrubbing from wheels, street sweepers, and snow plows. Accordingly, the schedule used to maintain these critical pavement markings has to be adjusted for these differing wear rates, the criticality and nature of the street in question, and the severity of the weather. With the very few marked bicycle lanes in the City of Albany, it is essential that they be maintained.

Clinton Ave. in particular – because it is mostly residential and surrounded by residential streets with limited commercial activity – depends on clear bicycle lane markings to ensure (1) safety of people on bicycles and (2) guidance for people in cars that they need to calm both their speed and their driving behavior. This letter calls for refreshing the pavement makings on Clinton Ave.

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Pray for People on Bicycles

October 12, 2020

RE: Lane Markings Clinton Ave.

The Honorable Kathy M. Sheehan

Office of the Mayor

City Hall, Rm. 102

24 Eagle St.
Albany, NY 12207

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

This is to draw your attention to the need to refresh the bicycle lane markings on Clinton Ave.

Because of its Ten Broeck-to-Manning bicycle lanes, Clinton Ave. is a favored “up the hill” route for people on bicycles. The street also connects directly to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and, ultimately, to the Skyway. With the advent of the bicycle lane network in the Northern Blvd. area and the hoped for on-street bicycle link between it and the lanes on Clinton Ave., maintenance of the lane markings on the avenue is critical.

Park Where?

In many areas only ghost images remain. This is especially so at cross streets where traffic scrubbing is heavy. People in cars entering Clinton Ave. need the markings to alert them to the presence of bicycles and people.

Over and above all bicycle and motor vehicle issues, Clinton Ave. with its adjacent streets is essentially residential with people coming and going, children playing, and many enjoying time with neighbors and friends on stoops and sidewalks. For those who remember when Clinton Ave. was essentially a 4-lane superhighway, although unmarked as such, the installation of bicycle lanes in 2008 brought traffic calming to the street. Even so, the route still has unending through- and cross-town traffic. Equity alone suggests that the city have a thorough and regular program of refreshing pavement markings to preserve this major side benefit of bicycle lanes – reduced motor vehicle speeds.

On behalf of people on bicycles and the residents and visitors to Clinton Ave., I ask that you arrange for an inspection and timely remediation of the bicycle lanes.

Sincerely yours,

More Bike Lanes, More Smiles!

Promoting cycling in the Capital Region

ABC is a 501(c)3 corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Member – League of American Bicyclists, New York Bicycling Coalition, South End Connector Task Force, Capital Region Complete Streets, Madison Avenue Traffic Calming Coalition, Capital District Transportation Committee-Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Cycle Schenectady, Transport Troy, and Livingston Ave. Bridge Coalition

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Pederson Bicycle – The Ride for You

What bicycle has 14 steel tubes, connected at 57 places and forming 21 triangles? Kiss goodbye to saddle sores, backaches, and bone-shaking rides over Capital Region pot-holed streets.

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The hammock-like saddle cushions the Pedersen cyclist from all such discomfort.

A Contemporary Pedersen

That saddle sways with peddling motion to give almost complete suspension. The cycle’s designer, Danish inventor Mikael Pedersen wrote of the saddle: “It `gives’ in every direction, the weight is evenly distributed … you may take my word for it that all cyclists and especially ladies after once trying this seat will refuse to ride on any other.”

The Cantilever Bicycle – A Lasting Technology 125 Years Later – This 1897 article from the Scientific Topics section of the Evening Gazette Burlington, Iowa 8/17/97 tells the whole story. (The article, or variations, was also published in 1897 and 1899 in 16 other newspapers covered by the “Newspaper Archive”):

Evening Gazette Burlington, Iowa 8/17/97

“The accompanying illustration is from a photograph of the Cantilever bicycle, cycle construction, and its inventor, Mr. Nickall Pendersen (sic.). One of the features wherein this machine differs materially from the ordinary safety bicycle is the weight (ED: A “safety bicycle” is the grandparent of the standard bicycle frame design in use today). Cantilevers range in weight from the nine-pound racer to a wheel for rough use, which weighs 14 pounds. The construction is the outcome of the inventor’s desire to secure a perfect seat. Mr. Nickall Pendersen (sic.) is a Dane, residing in England, and he has been a wheelman for twenty years. His idea was to enjoy the comfort of a hammock on a bicycle, which he accomplished by the use of silk strings on which the saddle rests. The front forks are attached to the rest of the frame by a pivot connection at the top and by a strong pivot hinge at the point shown in the cut just where the lower part of the frame joining with the crank hanger goes up to a point near the top of the front wheel. This connection gives the machine a sensitive steering device.”

Dursley Pedersen Bicycle ca. 1910

Mikael Pedersen, the Inventor – Danish inventor Mikael Pedersen

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Mikael Pedersen

developed the Pedersen bicycle, also called the Dursley Pedersen. He produced the bicycle in Dursley, England. Though never hugely popular, Pedersens enjoy a devoted following and are still produced today. Your author spotted one in Albany several years ago. On 3/30/20, E-Bay featured a used 8-speed for $2,500. The unusual frame is a pure cross, marketed as cantilever, and features a distinctive hammock-style saddle. Variations include lightweight racing, tandem, and folding designs. Other Pedersen innovations include two and three-speed internally geared rear hubs. The latter were troublesome and not up to the quality of the other all-time-great (and only?) English invention, the Strumey-Archer hub gearbox.

The Move to the UK – Pedersen received a patent in the United Kingdom for his bicycle in the early 1890s and constructed the first model out of wood. He formed the Pedersen Cycle Frame Co. Ltd., and when that fell into financial difficulty, production continued at the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Co. The Pedersen Cycle Frame Co. also licensed the design was to other manufacturers, and, while approximately 30,000 units resulted by the early 1920s, the design never really caught on.

A Contemporary Pedersen

In 1978, Jesper Sølling resumed production in Copenhagen and has been followed by others.

A Contemporary Pedersen – Count the Tubes!

The Hammock Saddle – Pedersen wrote that he developed the hammock style seat first. It provides suspension from road imperfections with much less weight, 4 ounces (110 g) instead of 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of traditional leather and steel spring saddles of the day. Pedersen then developed a frame, a truss assembled from several thin tubes, around his new seat design.

He attributed his inspiration to the Whipple-Murphy bridge truss. (Albany resident Squire Whipple was the first bridge builder to apply scientific principles to the field with his Whipple Truss bridge.*

Evolution of the Hammock Saddle – The frame design initially did not support seat height adjustment, and even after some adjustability was added, eight different sizes required manufacture. The non-standard frame design would not accommodate a traditional front fork. Instead, Pedersen developed a fork that also consisted of thin tubes assembled into a truss, which was attached to the frame with bearings at two distinct points, instead of through a traditional head tube. Pedersen also received patents for a chain wheel and bottom bracket combination and lightweight pedals.

Maybe another COVID-19 give-away will come through to finance your a “new” bicycle …

A Contemporary Pedersen

Selected videos to enhance your appreciation of the Pederesen foloow::

SOURCES:

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*  There are three Whipple Bridge samples in the Capital area – one leading to the residence of the Albany Police Department horses at Normanskill Farm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipple_Cast_and_Wrought_Iron_Bowstring_Truss_Bridge), one at the Visher Ferry Historic site, and a rare doublewide bridge in Town Of Claverack, Columbia County.

A Whipple truss has diagonal members working in tension. The main characteristic of a Whipple truss is that the tension members are elongated, usually thin, and at a shallow angle, and cross two or more bays (rectangular sections defined by the vertical members). The bridges are like a life-size “Gilbert Erector Set” that could have been assembled by a small work crew out of modernly light-weight components using basic hand tools – and, hopefully, some detailed instructions on how all the parts fit together. Whipple bridges were easy to transport and assemble and were common on the Erie Canal to connect parts of farms that canal digging divided and as “change bridges” where the mule team could cross to the other side of the canal. A notable side product of these and other Erie Canal bridges was the ever-popular “Low Bridge! – Everybody Down” also known as “Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal” or incorrectly as “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.” Thomas S. Allen wrote the lyrics and music in 1913 possibly as a nostalgia song when the New York State Barge Canal with its tugs and self-powered canal boats drove the hoagies and their mules (and their way of life) out of business.

I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

 She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

We’ve hauled some barges in our day

 Filled with lumber, coal, and hay

 And every inch of the way I (we) know

 From Albany to Buffalo

Chorus:

 Low bridge, everybody down

 Low bridge cause we’re coming to a town

 And you’ll always know your neighbor

 And you’ll always know your pal

 If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

Get up there Sal, we’ve passed that lock,

 Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

 And we’ll make Rome before six o’clock

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

One more trip and back we’ll go

 Through the rain and sleet and snow

 And every inch of the way I (we) know

 From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down

 Low bridge for we’re coming to a town

 And you’ll always know your neighbor

 And you’ll always know your pal

 If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

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Pre-Trip Bike Maintenance Check Up from Adventure Cycling

PreambleAdventure Cycling’s Alex Strickland provided the following pre-ride tips for the upcoming “Bike Travel Weekend.” Even if your fall riding plans are a bit less ambitious, you might want to review these reminders. Adventure Cycling leads in with this: “Will you do us a favor and take a few minutes to check your bike before you leave for your Bike Travel Weekend & Bike Your Park Day ride? Here’s a quick checklist to help you stay safe.”

Jacques Tati et sa bicyclette, 1947 or ’49

Touring Basics – Your campground is reserved, your gear is laid out in an Instagram-friendly grid, and tomorrow’s the big day. Before you go, take 30 minutes for a quick run-through of your bike — the old “ounce of prevention” — to make sure your wheels are road-worthy before you strike out on an adventure.

Frame – Start with the frame and give it a good wipe down with a rag. Once the dirt and grime are gone, make a quick check for cracks, especially around the welds.

Tires – With the tires inflated, look for sharp debris or glass embedded in the tire, as well as any cuts that look like they go through the rubber and tire casing. Also check tread wear; if the top tread is starting to become square in shape (as opposed to rounded), or the casing is visible through the tread, it’s time to swap out for a new tire. If you’re running tubeless, adding a little fresh sealant is a good idea.

Wheels – Spin the wheels while straddling the bike and give them a quick spot check to make sure that they are round and true, and that there isn’t any excessive friction in the hubs. Also, give the spokes a quick squeeze to check for consistent tension.

Brakes – Check the pads (some rim brake pads have wear indicators) to ensure there’s enough material left. A quick visual inspection of the braking surface (rim or disc rotor) should uncover any issues there. Finally, check the lever feel and adjust cables or bleed hydraulic brakes if required.

Chain and Cassette – Chain and cassette wear can wreak havoc on your shifting and increase the chance of a broken chain. Looking at the cassette, focus on the teeth. If the cassette teeth come to a sharp point, the cassette should be replaced. As for the chain, you can use a chain checker tool to make sure that it isn’t stretched. If you don’t have one of these tools, you can look at how the chain lies over the front chainrings. If the chain doesn’t seat itself on the chainring properly, it’s probably ready to be replaced. A quick clean and lube of the chain is always a good idea.

Shifting – Run through the gears to make sure that the shifting is dialed in. Check cables and housing to make sure there isn’t any excessive friction or fraying.

Rack – Check for cracks and ensure mounting bolts are tight.

Bolts – Go over the bike from front to back, making sure all of the bolts are snug.

Take a Spin – The last step is to take the bike out of the garage and give it a quick spin around the block. Run through the gears, test the brakes, and listen for any creaks that might require further investigation.

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Cycle Track in Watervliet Update – 9-8-20

The good news is brief – the cycle track/multiuse path from 4th St at the terminus of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail/I-787 Underpass to 23rd St. at Hudson Shores Park is mostly paved.

New Cycle Track

A few parts of the off-road portion still need final paving and the on-road portion on Broadway in front of the US Army Arsenal remains to be done. There is yet (of course) no signage, striping, etc.

The final configuration of the on-road portion passing in front of the Arsenal is not 100% clear but a guess is that it will skirt the curbing on the 787/river side with petrovehicle lanes moved toward the arsenal side. The photo looking south shows the off-road portion exiting onto/leaving from Broadway with the Arsenal in the background.

Entrance/Exit to On-Road Portion – Arsenal in Background

More background here – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2020/07/31/cycle-track-in-watervliet-coming-soon/ In this background post is the proposed route map. The north end of which is here on Google Maps https://www.google.com/maps/search/I+Got+Good+News+and+I+Go+Bad+News+-+Watervliet+Cycle+Track+Progress+(8-8-20)ter/@42.732763,-73.6976725,205m/data=!3m1!1e3  The cycle track doesn’t show yet of course.

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Cycle Track Exit from Hudson Shores Park – I-787 Exit ramp to Left

At the north terminus at Hudson Shores Park with the I-787 entrance ramp (on the west side of 787) has cars coming from both the west and east. The blue “jeep” is entering 787 with the cycle track paving leading across the ramp where it resumes. Note grey car entering from the other direction – scary!

The blue “jeep” is entering 787

The exit ramp onto 23 and Lower Hudson Ave. is brutal. ABC’s CapitalNYBikeMap will not put cyclists on Lower Hudson (to get to Green Isl., Troy, and the Empire State Trail continuation). Rather, it continues riders on Rt 32 to 25th St./Albany St. and then to Green Isl. and the Green Isl. Bridge/Troy. This is the established MHBHT route. See – https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/new-york/mohawk-hudson-bike-hike-trail?mobileMap=false&ref=sidebar-view-full-map  From the north end of the Watervliet cycle track to the Black Bridge in Cohoes is an “on-road” issue and thus under New York State Department of Transportation. The design is not yet available.

The cycle track begins on 4th St. after one exits the tunnel under I-787 at the trailhead of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Note the brand new Empire State Trail sign!

Cycle Track at 4th St.

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