Author Archives: Lorenz Worden

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

Patroon Greenway Project – Yardboro Ave. to Everett Rd.

The institutional support for the Albany Bicycle Coalition to promote the Patroon Greenway Project lies in Capital District Transportation Committee’s January 2019 “Capital District Trails Plan (pg. 28) – https://www.cdtcmpo.org/images/bike_ped/TrailsPlan/CDTC_TrailsPlan_F3_reduced.pdf

Capital Trails Plan 1-2019

The plan describes the Patroon Greenway (Off-Road Trail • 8.8 miles) as follows:

“The Patroon Greenway is a planned multi-use trail route which would connect from the Albany waterfront to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and points beyond to the Schenectady County line, taking advantage of slivers of greenway which are found along the I-90 corridor.

“Beyond the county line, the Patroon Greenway is projected to continue northwest along the I-90 corridor thru Rotterdam and eventually connect with the Mohawk River section of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (F) as part of the Empire State Trail. (Refer to Schenectady section for more detail in that county and the Patroon Greenway Feasibility Study.)

“Although the full Patroon Greenway extends to the Mohawk River, only a portion of it is considered a Core Trail for the purposes of this plan. Commencing at the crossing of the Livingston Avenue Bridge, where it would connect with the Rensselaer Riverwalk/RPI Trail as well as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail along the Hudson River, this trail is envisioned to follow the railroad bed northeast— through the wooded area behind Capital Woods apartment complex—and connecting with the established trail which winds its way through the Tivoli Lake Preserve. Branching off the Tivoli Preserve Trail, it would then head north and pass along the Transflo railyard on Anderson Drive. From this point, it is envisioned to continue following the I-90 corridor west just south of the railroad tracks to Six Mile Waterworks Park at Rensselaer Lake. Here, the Rensselaer Lake Trail could connect it through to trails within the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, where it could link up with the proposed Schenectady Park Connector (R) trail heading north into Schenectady.

“The remainder of the Patroon Greenway would eventually continue to follow the I-90 corridor beyond the county line to connect with the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail in the vicinity of Dalys Island.”

Notes on the Plan appear at the end of this post. The Patroon Greenway studies are as follows:

From these reports and the Trail PLan, it is clear that the proposed Patroon Greenway Project is a key element in the Capital Trails program as it ties together other trails and destinations that are virtually inaccessible by bicycle or foot because of the overpower encroachment of dangerous roads and highways. Further, it connects two jewels in the City of Albany – Six-Mile Trail and Tivoli Preserve, the largest urban preserve outside of NYC.

Photos follow:

“I Get No Respect” – Patroon Creek buried under Central Ave. at Yardboro Ave. (3X)

Heading SE – Clear path ahead – Patroon Creek to the right.

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Patroon Creek (2X)

Pond

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“Last Prize” (2X)

Everett Rd. (3X)

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Path Veering Off to the Right

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I-90 Overpass – Tight Squeeze to the right side of RR tracks

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Train Yards and Tank Bomb Parking

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Capital Trails-New York (Overview) – In January 2019, the Capital District Transportation Committee – the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy-Saratoga Springs metropolitan areas – released its final plan for the four-county trail master plan.

The complete plan is here – www.cdtcmpo.org/trails

CDTC developed this plan as a toolbox for local governments, trail advocates, and organizations. CDTC cannot implement the plan because it cannot initiate capital programs. The economic data, maintenance case studies, and branding plan provide the spine for cities and towns to create their own trail and/or Complete Streets plans to connect to the system. These data also will help in competing for funding and offer ideas for local friends groups to promote trail projects, advocate for trail connections, or support an existing trail and a marketing strategy to attract private sector support and champions.

Capital Trails-New York is an overall branding and area designation. Individual trails within the system will retain their own identity much as is the case with the statewide Empire State Trail network. The advantage of this approach is twofold – it will attract newcomers – tourists and new residents – to the area and will encourage those with allegiance to a local trail to continue their involvement.

Since this plan will drive development of trails for years to come, it is imperative that you be familiar with it. While the plan is packed with interesting and valuable information, you should check the pages that refer to your area:

  • Albany County – page 28
  • Rensselaer County – page 34
  • Saratoga County – page 39
  • Schenectady County – page 44In each such section, you will find a trail map and detail description of each trail and its features.If this plan is to reach its goal of 148 miles by 2020 and 289 miles after full implementation and for the region to benefit economically and socially from a trails network, you will need to get involved in supporting your municipality and advocacy groups in pushing for completion – trail by trail. Pages 81-104 provide case studies of what people (like you) were able to accomplish. Starting with our own Friends of the Rail Trail and the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail, these case studies relate how great success was achieved but also how important was involvement by the citizenry. The studies are loaded with how-to tips.As a side note, the Albany-Colonie Connector – developed and designed by the Albany Bicycle Coalition – was adopted as Supporting Trail #14 as one of the key connectors between Guilderland, Albany, the Village and Town of Colonie, and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail at Lions Park. See page 33. This connector ties in with the Albany Loop (Core Trail “C,” pg. 29), Patroon Greenway (Core Trail “D”), Shaker Trail (Supporting Trail #13), and the University at Albany Purple Path. The Albany Bicycle Coalition has promoted this connector and has reached out in this effort to municipal leaders and local NYS Assembly members.

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, City Review, Patroon Greenway

South End Bikeway Connector Rumbles Along – Cont’d (11/10/19)

Here are today’s views of progress on the South End Bikeway Connector. The first shows a major step completed at the southern end of the Connector – curbing for the cycle track installed with the concrete curing under protective cover. Remaining steps include paving the bicycle area, installation of “protective ‘plastic’ bollards,” and striping.

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Next, a northerly view of Frontage Rd. along 1-787 showing the shoulder and one motor vehicle lane converted to a cycle track. The excavation is complete almost to Church/Vine Sts. Looking south from Church/Vine Sts. showing cut marks in the pavement and the progress on excavations from S. Pearl St. up to the construction vehicle in the distance.

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The soon-to-be linear park and off-road multiuse path under I-787 now being used as a construction staging areas – note piles of soil, rock, and granite curbing (to the left).

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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 10 anniversary of the Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.

~ The South End Connector Bikeway Route Description ~

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./Vine 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 Bike Link

The Leaves are Falling (and a Little Snow Too)

There are plenty of opportunities for some nice riding in fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to keep in mind during these seasons:

  1. Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid those hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.IMGP5517
  2. Consider adding a helmet or head-mounted lamp to help see those potholes, debris, etc. at night. While a front light in blink mode makes people more aware of your presence, the headlamp helps you see obstacles. The advantage of a headlamp is that when you move your head, the light goes with you. When on trails with little or no street lighting, both the headlamp and front light (in steady mode) will light the path.
  3. Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
  4. Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on.” Ensure that your gear or clothing does not block the light beams (front and rear) and that the rear light(s) aim toward following vehicles.
  5. Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  6. Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  7. Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  8. Maybe shop for and use a helmet mounted rear-facing light.
  9. You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.Rain2
  10. As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it is dark in color, either choose something that is not or pick up a cheepy reflective vest from your local big box home center.
  11. Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  12. Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes and craters in the paved surface.
  13. Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  14. Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  15. You might want to inspect your tires for wear. You might swap the front to the rear (since the rear takes the most weight and wears quicker). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them). You may consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  16. Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will finishing or starting a ride in low light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  17. Plan your braking to avoid a spill.5189348630_6432fb1cce_z
  18. Sunglasses are also important this time of year. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance that you will finish or start a ride in low-light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  19. Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  20. Fall and winter is a good time to get ready for next year’s riding with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/

    Other winter riding tips –

To plan for low stress, safe cycling, plan you route with the free, interactive Albany Bicycle Coalition BikeAlbanyMaphttps://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

To find more bicycle-related events, go to –  https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/events/

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Filed under Bike Tech, safety, Winter Cycling