The recent reduction in speed limits on Washington Ave. from Brevator to Fuller Rd. (from 40 to 30 mph) and from Fuller to Rt. 155/Karner Rd. (from 55 to 45) invites immediate reconsideration of the street for use by people on bicycles and for increased safety for all road users. Opening almost 4 miles on Washington Ave. for all users would provide a major commuter and recreational route and would connect the City of Albany to Schenectady and the suburbs with benefits to all. Specifically for people on bicycles, a traffic-calmed Washington Ave. would connect to the Six Mile Waterworks Park trail (and thence to Lincoln Ave./Rapp Rd. and then to Central Ave.) allowing riders to bypass the dangerous Wolf Rd. – Central Ave. area.
To support this approach, we need only note that, although the official speed is now lower, the configuration of the road and the clear message it sends to people in cars is – 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 mph – it’s all good. The entire Albany Police Department could not “police” speeders on Washington Ave. The simple solution is to abandon this configuration of wide lanes with negligible build up or greenery near the roadway, wide shoulders, and 4 lanes. We can send a “complete streets message” by taking advantage of these wide shoulders and extra wide motor vehicle travel lanes to provide 11-foot travel lanes and bicycle lanes on each side from Manning Blvd. to 155/Karner Rd..
A positive feature of Washington Ave. is that it lies under only one jurisdiction – the City of Albany – and is not a New York State numbered route. This means that it is unnecessary to navigate many levels of government to make these changes.
Another aspect of Washington Ave. is the “trail to nowhere” that starts on the sidewalk at the Fuller Rd. underpass/traffic circle on the south side of Washington Ave. (2.4 miles from Manning Blvd.). This multi-use path runs to an abrupt end at the Collin’s Circle entrance to the University at Albany. On its way there, the multi-use path crosses one campus access road (W. University Dr.) with no bicycle accommodations but with pedestrian crossing signals. (With Albany’s “right turn on red after pause ’rule’,” all these University at Albany entries are high-risk crossings.)
There is unencumbered real estate for continuation of this path from Collins Circle to the New York State Harriman Campus western border near the traffic lights controlling access to the office complex at 1365-1367-1375 Washington Ave. (3.8 miles from the start of the multiuse path at Fuller Rd.). Possibly, all that is needed is straightforward signaled crossover for pedestrians and for people on bicycles (to switch between the multi-use path and the bicycle lanes).
Here is a look at Washington Ave. (photos dated 4-9-17):
- (photo above) Super Mirage at Fuller at Wash Ave
- (photo above)Fuller at Wash Ave – Looking east
- Aspen & Quad Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
- Collins Cir Entrance Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
- Looking toward new Path Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
- E Bridge over Ring Rd Wash Ave-UA
- Exit to Patroon Creek and Ring Rd Wash Ave-UA
- Bridge Over Rt 85 at Jermain St Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
- Exit to Rt 85 from Wash Ave-UA