Author Archives: Lorenz Worden

Riding To Get Somewhere ~ or ~ the Invisible Rider

Many in the City of Albany ride their bicycles because that is their primary means of transportation. We know that there are “a lot” of these bicycle riders who apparently are not engaged in the discussion on bicycle facilities and bicycle safety issues. They do not appear to join with or participate in the activities of “bicycle advocacy groups.” They do not appear at public meetings and presentations on proposed roadway modifications that may affect them.

The question is: How can we engage with these “riders of necessity” so that their concerns can be brought to the table?

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The pictures that follow are from ABC’s collection of people on bicycles” and are not intended to identify or categorize any person or rider but merely to illustrate an issue for outreach and investigation.

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Filed under Activisim, City Review, Riding to Get Somewhere

South End Bikeway Connector Rumbles Along – Cont’d (12/26/19)

Looking south to work-in-progress connecting the trailhead/parking to the cycle track on S. Pearl St. (The traffic light is at Old S. Pearl St.)

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The new CDTA pickup at the north end of the Pearl St. segment of the cycle track (just visible behind the booth).  Ezra Prentiss homes at the far right.

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Those big, stinking, noisy, fuming trucks still very much part of the daily scene – and notably traveling above the speed limit.

The end of the cycle track on the north end of Frontage Rd. at Church St./Vine St. (Tank bombs to the left.)

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Filed under Albany County Rail Trail, Albany Riverfront Park, City Review, South End Bikeway Connector

“Even If You DON’T Build It, They Will Still Come”

Here’s a message for Albany County and the City of Albany – 12,000 bicycle riders can’t be wrong.  

In closing out its third season, CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare confirmed 41,578 rides (and 12,000 members) in the 4-city service area. The BikeShare program has a treasure drove of data telling where people picked up a bicycle, where they went, what route they took, where they made intermediate stops, what they had for breakfast, and how fast they rode. These riders (generally) are NEITHER day-to-day commuters riding their own bicycles NOR people in $200-300 riding “kit” on high-end bicycles. In addition, the BikeShare season is only 8 months long. BikeShare riders also (again, in general) have made a commitment (by registering as a seasonal members) to using the service – they are not all one-time, one-day tourists.

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Bike Share

In addition to these clear data, Albany Bicycle Coalition staff has provided cycling data from Strava as evidence that (for example) New Scotland Ave. is heavily used by cyclists. Strava* compiles monthly heat maps with trip data from cyclists. Municipalities are increasingly using Strava data for planning purposes. Yes, riders who use Strava would tend to be “serious” and committed cyclists but the data are a good proxy for all riders especially (as in the case of New Scotland Ave.) there is only one direct route available.

Therefore, we have data that goes beyond the anecdotal. Hard numbers. Not what someone “thinks” or “was told,” or “heard.” One would be ill advised to discount these data as being about “those bicycle people.”

What’s the message?

If you do not subscribe to the theory “if you build it, they will come,” you might entertain the actuality that people demonstrably want to use bicycles to get “from here to there.” Environment, health, expense, no choice, preference, advocacy – who knows the motivation? The reality still is that there are people on bicycles “out there” who, given similar economic/socio backgrounds pay MORE for road construction and maintenance then their less enlightened petrovehicle colleagues and who want and need safe, direct, connected bicycle facilities.DSC00014.JPG

CDTA CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare has more data (“heat maps”). If you are in government or are an advocate for safe roads and healthy commuting, you might use these data to support your case. Contact – – LindseyG@cdta.org

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*Strava is a social fitness network primarily to track cycling and running exercises using GPS data. Strava offers a free service with no advertising in its mobile application, and a monthly subscription plan called Strava Summit. See – https://www.strava.com/about

Felix - Mikael Colville-Andersen SON.jpg

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Filed under Activisim, City Review

Patroon Creek Greenway Trail Ride 11/19

~ DRAFT ~

See also – “Patroon Greenway Project – Yardboro Ave. to Everett Rd.”

Overview – The Patroon Greenway Project describes a transportation/recreation multiuse path connecting the Six-Mile Trail on Fuller Rd. with the Albany Riverfront Park. The trail generally follows Patroon Creek, Tivoli Hollow, Route I-90, and the AMTRAK/CONRAIL railway tracks.

The Patroon Greenway connects several other tails as outlined in the Capital District Transportation Committee’s “Capital District Trails Plan – 2019

There are three Patroon Greenway Project studies conducted in 2004 and are as follows:

The Exploratory Ride – On Sunday November 3, 2019, Rob Carle led a team of Mark Maniak, John Gillivan, Ed Brennan, and Shelly Nevard on a trial run of the Patroon Greenway Trail.

Fuller-To-Central-Section[1]We started across at Six Mile Waterworks Park. We crossed used the crosswalk north of the circle to get access to the Ultrapet parking lot and the beginning of the trail. At the time of the Patroon Creek Studies (2004 – note at end of this report), there was a traffic light at this location. This is now less navigable for bikes and pedestrians.

The Study route also did not employ the parking lot to get to the trail. Rather it would hug the I-90 ramp on DOT property until meeting the trail east of the Ultrapet parking lot. The picture below showing an electrical substation and water tower base was by the start of where we began the trail.

While it was OK for the first couple of hundred yards, this first section of trail was in turn muddy, sandy and covered with a heavy layer of leaves.   It is notable that Mark somehow managed it with thin tires. I imagine most of the thin tire crowd would have turned back. As we approached Yardboro Ave. we came upon an improved section with recently laid compacted gravel. This was apparently done to provide access from Yardboro Ave. to City or County Water Department facilities near I-90.

We took a left on Kneeland Street proceeded along Yardboro Ave. to Central Ave. Here again we diverged from the proposed route which would have been off road closer to I-90. As this is a small, low traffic neighborhood, I see little benefit to the cost of making this section off road. Neighbors might see things differently. The lack of space between neighborhood streets and the I-90 ramps to Harriman State Offices and Rt 85 probably also dictate this be an on road section.

I note here the Study author indicated the ramp to Harriman offered the potential to link the Greenway with the State Offices and SUNY. He envisioned using this I-90 overpass and Washington Ave underpass to access the state campus loop. I believe this concept was recently resurrected in Washington Ave study. However, I see issues with the merger of this ramp with the eastbound exit ramp from I-90. The grade crossing where the ramps merge is also noted in the Study.

The Study calls for a median refuge on Central Ave at the Yardboro Ave. crossing with flashing safety beacons. Rob recommended another crossing to give bicyclists and pedestrian’s access to Railroad Ave. to provide additional traffic calming for this section of Central Ave.

Once across Central, we had to lift our bikes over a locked gate to continue along the trail. The Study notes this is National Grid property with County Water and Sewer Rights of Way. The Patroon Creek is visible along much of this trail section which has potential for being somewhat scenic. The trail itself was rough and had some massive water filled ruts and potholes. We followed the trail under Everett Road. Though in need of rehabilitation, the trail from Fuller to Everett was generally flat and wide. Beyond Everett Road the trail gets hemmed in between I-90 and the tracks. As we edged closer to the railroad tracks we also had to deal with the track ballast stones and had to walk our bikes more often. Eventually, we reached the underpass where I-90 crosses the tracks. As shown below this is a very tight pinch point and I’m certain authorities would not permit a bike path along this section without substantial improvements.

I-90-Underpass-C[1]The Study imagines that the trail will follow north side of I-90 and along a cantilever bridge to cross the railroad tracks. It would then cut back under I-90 using Anderson Rd. The Study trail would then use redeveloped abandoned rail trestles to cross back over the tracks to a point near the Freihofer (now Bimbo) Bakery site. Note the pointer to Anderson Rd at the top of the picture below. Everett is at the bottom.

Anderson Rd.

Anderson Rd

   ^ Everett

Rail Trestles

The Study section showing the Trail crossing the abandoned trestles leading back to a point near Tivoli Park is shown below. I also drew a pink arrow pointing to an existing Livingston Ave. entrance to the Tivoli Park Trails. The costs of constructing the cantilever bridge, restoring and modifying the trestle bridges would be significant and would require significant negotiations with the Railroads. The Study plan would solve the difficult issues of crossing I-90, the tracks and Everett Road.

As there was no such cantilever bridge at present, we pushed our bikes under I-90 and carried our bikes over to the north side of the tracks. We noted the trestle crossing the tracks. As the trail on the north side of the tracks soon vanished, we carried our bikes back over to the south side near Tivoli Park.   After a bit of bumbling about we found we could carry our bikes down an embankment and onto a very nice new trail through Tivoli Park. This new trail section is apparently part of a water drainage project. There were hundreds of new plantings in place and being prepared for landscaping. This is going to be a gem of a trail section when completed. We followed it out of Tivoli Park and out to Northern Boulevard. As it was getting late we left the rest of the ride to Corning Trail for another day and headed back via city streets.

New Tivoli Park Trail

Tivoli-Trail[1]It should be noted that the Study anticipated the rest of the bike route from Tivoli Park to the Corning Trail would be by City Streets. The author thought the options of a) following the deep railroad ravine or b) cantilevering along I-90 would be too costly and would not provide significant advantages for neighborhood users. Here I believe the Study’s proposed route could be adjusted to use some of Albany’s few improved bicycle friendly roads and other improvements following Northern Blvd to Manning to Ten Broeck to Clinton to the “To Be Repurposed” 787 Ramp to the Hudson/Corning Trail.

I think the biggest problems with developing the trail at present are 1) fixing the crossing of Fuller Road, which was a tragic victim of Traffic Circle Madness and 2) figuring out a cost effective method of connecting from Everett Road to Tivoli Park.

One of the study conclusions was that it would be important to find some early “wins”. I think the early wins would need to be very cost effective. If parts of the trail were opened, even with on road sections, this could generate public demand for fixing the more expensive sections. A very easy win, and one that might resound with the powers that be, would be to first link the new Tivoli Trail with the Corning Trail via the politically popular Repurposed 787 Ramp.

Another win could be connecting Central at Yardboro with Fuller. However, I think the traffic circle at Fuller is so dangerous the cost of fixing that circle would need to be worked in. The same is probably true of Central Ave. Even if the trail did not immediately continue on the other side, pedestrians and cyclists would need somewhere safe to cross if they wanted to continue north or west.

In the shorter term there are other ways of connecting the trail from Everett to Tivoli Park without cantilever bridges and rehabilitated rail trestles. The Study noted the

Dutch Stairs[1]

possibility of building a Dutch Stair from the Trail to the East side of Everett Road which is 20 feet overhead. The Dutch Stair concept was used on the pedestrian bridge across I-787 to Jennings Landing. By accessing the East side of Everett, cyclists and pedestrians could follow a sidewalk/street route to Tivoli by following Watervliet Ave. Extension, continuing onto Commerce Ave., turning right on Terminal Street and left on Livingstone Ave.. As pointed out in pink above there is currently access to the Tivoli Park trails on Livingston Ave. Below are a diagram of the Dutch Stair concept, a pointer to where the stair might emerge on Everett and “S” indicators where signaling might be used on Everett to allow safe passage.

everett

Alternatively, it may be possible to continue under I-90 as our group did. There would certainly need to be some fencing to separate cyclists from the railway. Once on the south side of I-90, it should be possible to access Watervliet Ave. and then take a left onto Commerce Ave. and continue onto Corning Trail as described above. This would doubtless require negotiation with and acquiescence of the Railroad and businesses at the end of Watervliet Ave. Some of the other conclusions of the Study were that the Greenway would need a “champion”, a study group and a “friends of the trail”. I think that ABC could play a role in each of these tasks.

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South End Bikeway Connector Rumbles Along – Cont’d (11/22/19)

Here are today’s (11/22/19) views of progress on the South End Bikeway Connector. From them, it is clear that the South End Bikeway Connector will be open from Church St. at the RR tracks to the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail trailhead at Old S. Pearl St. by the end of the construction season. According to the City of Albany, the remainder will be completed in 2020. In the meanwhile, riders will be able to access downtown Albany along Green St. or veer off Green St. to the right onto 4th Ave. to access Broadway. An alternative is to turn right (east) at the RR tracks to take Broadway directly to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail at the Slater/Dutch Apple mooring and then onto Buffalo on the Erie Canalway Trail.

The first shows the general layout of the connection from the trailhead to the South End Bikeway Connector (looking north from the parking lot).

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Next, a couple views of the actual 2-way protected bicycle lanes on S. Pearl St. (formerly Orchard St., Washington St., Common Ln., Cow Ln., and Cow St.). The construction pylons are not the final “protection” – they are to keep petrovehicles and those humongous trucks out of the cycle track until conclusion of construction.

Here is a nice view of Capital District Transportation Authority’s brand new bus shelter on its new concrete pad with the protected bicycle lane passing behind the shelter and onto the I-787 “Frontage Rd.”

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These views looking south from Church St. (named for the nearby St. John’s and “Dutch” churches) show the cycle track with a landscaped barrier. This is the likely end of South End Bikeway Connector construction for 2019.

~ The South End Connector Bikeway Route Description ~

A South End Bikeway Connector route description follows below. When completed, the SEBC will be the first Protected Bicycle Lanes in the City of Albany and the first bicycle lanes that actually connect up to other facilities – the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail/Erie Canalway Trail/Empire State Trail. According to the City of Albany, construction on the SEBC will continue until the end of the 2019 construction season. With this additional 1.5 miles of bicycle lanes, Albany will have a total of 6 miles of bicycle lanes just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.

The bikeway begins at S. Pearl St./Old S. Pearl St. in the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail trailhead and parking lot. Between Old S. Pearl St. and Mt. Hope Dr. and the Frontage Road (the I-787 northbound entry road), there will be a separated, on-street, two-way cycle track. (This two-way feature alleviates the need for people on bicycles to cross S. Pearl St.) The cycle track will continue onto the east/river side of the Frontage Rd. to Church St. It will then briefly turn west before continuing on an off-road, 10-foot wide, multi-use trail and linear park underneath I-787 to Broadway and Quay St. To skirt the I-787 support structure, at the Church St./Bassett St. intersection the connector will be on-road until Rensselaer St. Here it again it will shift back off-road until the turn toward the Hudson River, the Slater and Dutch Apple mooring, and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail/Albany Riverfront Park. To accommodate the connector’s path, Church St. from Rensselaer St. to Bassett St. will become a one-way southbound. Broadway currently consists of four travel lanes – two eastbound and two westbound. One lane on will be removed to construct the multi-use path on the south side of Broadway (where it passes under I-787), resulting in one westbound lane and two eastbound lanes.

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Filed under Albany County Rail Trail, Albany Riverfront Park, City Review, South End Bikeway Connector