ABC Supports Bethlehem’s Bicycle Initiatives

Albany Bicycle Coalition
Albany, NY 12208

November 19, 2010

Mr. Mike Morelli
Director of Planning
Town of Bethlehem
445 Delaware Avenue
Delmar, NY 12054

Dear Mr. Morelli,

Thank you for hosting the November 15, 2010 informative meeting on the “Draft Delaware Avenue Hamlet Enhancement Study Design Standards and Guidelines and Transportation Improvement Plan.” We in the Albany Bicycle Coalition are pleased that you have addressed many of the issues, the resolution of which promises a brighter day for bicycle riding in Bethlehem and environs.

Major outstanding concerns include the following:
– The need to ensure that the bicycle-oriented enhancements are compatible with Albany’s initiatives on Delaware Ave. and elsewhere.
– That “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs (not the ineffective “Share the Road” signs) be used on all Shared Lane areas.
– Reduction in speed limits on Delaware Ave. from 40 to 30 miles per hour.
– Functional bicycle racks properly placed.

We offer the following explanations:

1. Compatibility – Albany is just finishing its “complete streets” project on Delaware Ave. from the Throughway Bridge to Morton Ave. with elements of the design continuing through to Washington Ave., down the McAlpin-Southern-McCarty route to Pearl St. (near ether projected terminus of the Albany County Rail Trail), and over Holland to tie in with the re-marking of New Scotland Ave. With these recent enhancements, we have many of the elements of a major bicycle network that will benefit your residents as well as those of the city. Accordingly, we urge your ensuring that all signage and lane markings relating to Shared Lanes are compatible with Albany’s to enhance the attractiveness and safety of this major connector. (Please note that the Shared Lane markings on Washington Ave. were installed before the federal guidelines were available – they are much too close to the gutter/curb.)

2. Sign Verbiage – In line with #1, we urge your use of the marking ”(bicycle symbol) May Use Full Lane” and not “(bicycle symbol) Share the Road.” We believe that the “share the road” wording does not communicate the nature of a Shared Lane. The preferred wording provides a clear educational message to both motor vehicle and bicycle operators. We would also recommend that the signs be concentrated near the major intersections so that drivers entering Delaware’s Shared Lane protected area will be alert to the new traffic pattern. We would also recommend – again for educational purposes – that you use the term “Shared Lane” exclusively and drop the term “Sharrow” (which communicates little).
3. Speed Limit – We recommend that you impose a 30 mile-per-hour speed limit for the entire length of Delaware Ave. from the Bethlehem town line to Cherry Ave. This speed limit will reinforce all that you hope to achieve by the Hamlet Enhancement.
4. Bicycle Racks – There are many design in the field – some functional, some not; some artful and some worthless. We urge your careful consideration of the design you adopt to ensure that functionality is the major selection criterion. The most economical and functional design is an elongated “U” with a connecting cross bar and with about 4 welds (one cross piece and two fastening plates). Some of the designs now in use locally (e.g., the bicycle outline and the Greek Letter Phi (ϕ)) lack full functionality. Placement is also critical – such that the racks do not interfere with pedestrian traffic when in use, that the racks are protected from motor vehicle collisions, and that the racks are far enough away from walls, etc. so that the maximum number of bicycles can park. Further, installation should be such that the rack is the most secure element – securely fastened to the pavement or base with tamper-proof hardware.

We in the Albany Bicycle Coalition would be pleased to consult with you on issues related to bicycling, rider education, and so on. Within our membership are nationally certified bicycle instructors, expert mechanics, experienced ride and tour leaders, safety experts, and – always – enthusiastic riders.

We look forward to the execution of the planned improvements.


Albany Bicycle Coalition

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