Author Archives: Lorenz Worden

Follow Up on ABC Project Proposals for the City of Albany

On 2/20/21, the Albany Bicycle Coalition sent a follow-up letter to Mayor Sheehan on a number of proposals that we submitted between 2016 and 2020. It is our position that each of these – albeit each with a primary focus on cycling – would add immeasurably to the safety, convenience, ambience, and economic vitality of the city regardless of their benefit for people on bicycles. Each project stands on its own merit in this regard.

February 20, 2021
RE: ABC Initiatives – Various

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

Over the last several years, the Albany Bicycle Coalition proposed a number of projects to enhance the value of our community to all its residents and to those who visit or work in the City of Albany. I would like your assistance in tracing down the status of these proposals with in the city. The base document for each item is attached for your reference.

  • South End Connector Safety Modifications (11/14/20) – One of the safety issues – the intersection of the South End Connector with Church St. and Broadway is of long standing. We were surprised that it remained unaddressed in the final configuration of the Connector. The second safety issue resulted from the new junction between S. Pearl St. and the Connector at the I-787 S. Pearl St. overpass. The city needs to address them both. At the same time we submitted these recommendations, we added some items to enhance the values of the Connector to the “south end” community.
  • Clinton Ave. Refreshment of Bicycle Lane Pavement Markings (10/12/20) – The benefits of the Clinton Ave. bicycle lanes to residents (traffic calming in a residential area), to people in cars (calmed speed with fewer wrecks) and to people on bicycles (easy climb “up the hill” and safety will only be maximized if the lanes are maintained so they are visible to all.
  • New Scotland Ave. Major Bicycle Commuter Route (4/18/20) – Again, New Scotland Ave. would jump to the top of any list as a major commuter route for people on bicycles as it connects many residential areas to places of employment or service along it. The section from Manning Blvd. to Bethlehem is the singular route for cyclists and is blessed with room for superior bicycle facilities for much of its length. Additional, those who participated in the traffic study were clear in their desire for traffic calming.
  • Western Ave. Traffic Calming (7/21/19) – As in the 2009 Albany Bicycle Master Plan, the November 2020 draft of the new Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan calls for Western Ave. to be a “major bikeway” with recommended protected bicycle lanes. Regardless, the clear need is to convert immediately Western Ave. into a traffic-calmed street with the same or better treatment as on Madison Ave. There is no evident need to wait for yet another study, as Western Ave. will always bubble to the top of the improvement list.
  • Albany-Colonie Connector (10/2/18) – Albany Bicycle Coalition is on a campaign for bicycle connections between the various municipalities. We want to develop a network of relatively low-stress, low-traffic routes. The Albany-Colonie Connector is one of our prime goals as it will join the Washington Ave. Ext./Guilderland to the Town of Colonie and Niskayuna and lead to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. The route is clear and all it needs is support of the municipalities to embrace it with way finding signage, and repair and bicycle facilities such as bicycle lane and protected bicycle lanes.
  • Close Washington Park Road to Motor Vehicles (8/26/16) – When the water/sewer repairs on S. Lake Ave. closed the park road along the southwest Washington Park Lake, it was apparent that this road need not be available to people in cars. Closing it permanently would have two benefits: (1) partially returning Washington Park to its park status and (2) preparing the way for more reductions in motor vehicle traffic in the park as part of the proposed Washington Park-Lark St. study.

Mayor Sheehan, as always the Albany Bicycle Coalition believes that it has put forward ideas that will enhance the City of Albany for all street users by adding safety, economic growth, and pleasantness. When we were pushing for protected bicycle lanes on Madison Ave., you once stated to me “protected bicycle lanes would make it a ‘bicycle project’” vs. a traffic calming project. While we operate under the umbrella of cycling and the needs of people on bicycles, my several years of observing the new Madison Ave. and many of Clinton Ave. convince me more than ever every one of our projects stands to have benefits far beyond that primary focus.

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#1 – Safety and Access Enhancements to the South End Connector ~ As submitted 9/17/20 to the City of Albany with updates 2/19/21 ~

Multiuse Path Maintenance – the City of Albany Department of General Services was quite responsive to our recent call for mowing and cleanup of the median/divider on the I-787 access/frontage road portion of the South End Connector. The city needs to ensure that this maintenance be a regular part of DGS’s role in the area. Glass in the cycle track will continue to plague people on bicycles.

Signage, Lighting, and Striping at S. Pearl St.-South End Connector Intersection – There is a need for signage and re-striping of the crosswalks and new lighting at the intersection of S. Pearl Street and the I-787 access/frontage road. This would alert people in cars who are making both left and right turns from S. Pearl onto the access road that bicyclists and pedestrians could be using the crosswalks. These are swooping turns that are, unfortunately, plentiful in the City of Albany. Motor vehicles traveling north on S. Pearl make the turn at excessive speed. It is awkward for bicyclists wanting to continue north on S. Pearl to see cars coming from the south. (That is, those who are not staying on the Connector beyond this intersection). Similarly, people on bicycles heading south on S. Pearl St. but wanting to enter the Connector (i.e., a left turn off S. Pearl St.) have difficulty making a safe turn. Pedestrians also have to look awkwardly to their left before stepping into the crosswalk, when heading north on S. Pearl, or their right, when heading south. We raised this issue at the public meetings hosted by the City.

Attention to this intersection (as well as Bassett St. and Broadway/Quay St.) is integral to making the Connector a community/local street asset and not merely a recreational, end-to-end experience. It is part of recognizing that the “South End” needs access to current and future bicycle facilities in the City of Albany.

Pedestrian And Cyclist Entrance/Exit at Bassett St. – To encourage safe access to the Connector and to promote it as a community resource, there needs to be an entrance/exit connecting Bassett St. and the South End Connector. Addition of a striped area (e.g., a green path) could easily accomplish this purpose with the addition a “no entry for motor vehicles” sign.

Enhanced Motor Vehicle Traffic Control at Broadway/Quay St. – This intersection has been a barrier for people on bicycles and people walking since its original construction. This long-standing problem predates the South End Connector by many years and was the site where a motor vehicle operator struck and killed cyclist Jose Perez.

Ghost Buke for Jose at Broadway and Quay

Looking east toward the Hudson River, people in cars swoop off Broadway at high speeds to the right/south. When they make this right turn onto Broadway, they come up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only current traffic control is a yield sign. This sign is ineffective since it is clear to a driver that there is no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. At an absolute minimum, a stop sign should replace the yield sign. This alteration is a small task that could be done in an hour or two at minimal cost.

For guidance for people on bicycles, bright green bicycle lanes (similar to Colonie St.) would help southbound riders coming from the Corning Riverfront Park to see clearly the correct bike diagonally across the street. Bicyclists cannot see the Connector since it is across the intersection under I-787. Prominent wayfinding signs, a map, and green pavement markings would guide riders from the waterfront to South End Connector without mistakenly riding in the street.

It is also unclear as to how bicyclists are to navigate crossing Broadway when either exiting the Connector or the Corning riverfront trail. When the light is red for vehicles traveling north on Broadway, riders coming off the Connector are scanning to their left and rear. Riders exiting the Corning trail have to scan straight ahead and be far enough out of the intersection to clear traffic turning onto the I-787 ramp, often at high speed. (We have even witnessed the running of red lights.) People on bicycles also have to be alert to motor vehicles coming north on Broadway to continue on Quay St. or Broadway into the city proper. This issue was raised at the public meetings hosted by the City of Albany. Overall, we need more demonstrative traffic control and signage at this intersection.

South End Connector Grand Opening Ride

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#2 – Refresh Lane Markings Clinton Ave.

October 12, 2020 – RE: Lane Markings Clinton Ave.

It’s Easier to Smile on Clinton Ave. When We Can See the Bike Lane Markings

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.

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.

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#3 – Bicycle Lanes on New Scotland Ave. – Manning Blvd. to White Hall Rd.

April 8, 2019 – RE: New Scotland Ave. – Manning Blvd. to White Hall Rd.

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

We in the Albany Bicycle Coalition are pleased to learn of progress on New Scotland Ave. Traffic Calming and appreciate your attention to this major route through the City of Albany. Even though we understand that this project has a long completion horizon, we would like to offer our comments.

  • Speaking not only as cyclists, but also in consideration of all users of New Scotland Ave. – pedestrians, motorists, disabled, and local businesses – we fully endorse a complete streets/road diet approach. We believe two motor vehicle lanes, superior bicycle lanes, and appropriate and supportive signalization and signage is the only proper treatment for this road. As you well know, New Scotland Ave. could be a major bicycle commuter route – any effort to Traffic Calm this street will benefit all.

We recommend the following specifically:

  • That the city install high-quality bicycle lanes for the entire segment. To install other than full-dimension bicycle lanes will lose the traffic calming befit that derives from them (as we know from Madison Avenue Traffic Calming).
  • That any traffic circles/roundabouts be single lane and not “hybrid” in nature.
  • That Creighton Manning refine and adopt the “bump out plan” for the New Scotland/Lenox/Buckingham intersection to decelerate people in cars turning from New Scotland onto Buckingham and from Buckingham onto New Scotland Ave. This will reinforce what we understand to be the planned treatment for Quail St./New Scotland Ave.
  • That between Manning Blvd. and Whitehall Rd. there should be no Shared Lanes for these reasons:
    • Shared Lanes markings, being in the travel lane and subject to damage by traffic, street sweeping, and plowing will disappear in 1.5 to 2 years. Their modest benefit for people on bicycles then will be lost and motor vehicle traffic will return to the (high) road design speed.
    • According to NACTO, shared lanes should support a complete bikeway network.  They are not a facility type and should not be considered a substitute for bicycle lanes or other separation treatments where these types of facilities are otherwise warranted or space permits.  Accordingly, we suggest that as a matter of city policy you never recommend Shared Lanes unless they are part of a planned “bikeway network.”
    • Shared Lanes might have a place on New Scotland Ave. if we look at the entire Whitehall Rd.-Madison Ave. route as a bicycle network. For example, approaching the Albany Medical Center Hospital from the west heading downtown, they might be installed just west of Holland Ave.
    • With the customary “three alternatives approach” used on planning assessments such as New Scotland Ave., an alternative based on Shared Lanes becomes a throwaway. A preferred set of alternative might include, say, Buffered Bicycle Lanes, Protected Bicycle Lanes, or conventional Bicycle Lanes.
  • This last thought leads to our final recommendation that the City of Albany to do a preliminary, non-binding assessment of the entire Whitehall Rd.-Madison Ave. stretch so that whatever decisions are made on the Whitehall-Manning segment will be compatible with an overall objective of making New Scotland Ave. a major bikeway.

Albany Bicycle Coalition looks forward to helping bring this project to fruition.

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#4 – Western Ave. Traffic Calming

July 30, 2020 – RE: It’s Time for Western Ave. Traffic Calming

Western Ave. Begging for Bike Lanes ~ Plenty of Room!

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

As we come off the high of opening the South End Connector, it’s time to revisit an old favorite – connecting the City of Albany and Madison Ave. to Guilderland.

Over the past years, motorists, bus patrons, pedestrians, and cyclists have adapted to Albany’s highly successful Madison Ave. Traffic Calming initiative. The four-lane, crash-prone thoroughfare is now a pleasant urban street on which to drive, walk, bus, cycle, and patronize businesses. The new programmed/on-demand traffic lights and pavement markings allow Madison Ave. pedestrians to cross at every light between Allen and Willet Sts. without having to touch a button. Motorists cruise along at 20-30 mph without fear of being rear ended in the left-turn lane or experiencing unannounced, sudden lane changes. Drivers have become accustomed to cyclists and cyclists have flocked to Madison as a major uptown-downtown connector. It has been a boon to CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare users and to growth of the BikeShare program.

The Town of Guilderland and the NYSDOT refreshed the Western Ave. bicycle lanes running from the city line/University at Albany to Stuyvesant Plaza.

It is time to connect these Madison and Western Ave. projects into a seamless, calmed commuter and recreational route. Western Ave. from UA to Madison has two schools with posted 20 mph zones and many business and residences with exiting and entering traffic. The too-wide double lanes encourage speeding and crazy 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.

This approach will create a street design that matches the posted speed and gives all users a safe and efficient route from Guilderland to downtown Albany. It will address the inequities of those who are “car less,” those who feel unsafe on crowded buses, and those who value environmentally sound, safe solo exercise.

Mayor Sheehan, you know all of the features and benefits already and that this is an ideal street for Traffic Calming. The street’s pavement is in pretty good shape so this is an easy lift – no big bucks for utilities, curb cuts, and so on. In its 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, the City of Albany identified Western Ave. as one of its 18 “major bikeways” and will likely so re-designate it in the new Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. We seem to be on the cusp of a “bicycle boom” brought about by the COVID-19 conditions (Times Union 5/8/20; New York Times 6/13, 15, 19 and 25/20; Adventure Cyclist 8/20). “We are selling bikes faster than we can assemble them out of the boxes … I can’t tell you how crazy it is,” stated the Freeman Bridge Sports service manager.

The City of Albany will have to do this job someday. Why not now?

I ask your support in raising this project to the “can do.” We look forward to working with you and staff to bring it about.

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#5 – Rapp Rd. and the Albany-Colonie Connector

October 2, 2018 – RE: Rapp Rd. and the Albany-Colonie Connector –

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

We are trying to promote what we have termed the “Albany-Colonie Connector.” The route connects a series of presently independent elements to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian travel from the City of Albany through the University at Albany to the Six-Mile Trail and thence along Rapp Rd. through the Village of Colonie and to the Shaker Multiuse Path, and shortly thereafter to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail/Empire State Trail at Lions Park. We are hopeful for your interest and support.

Enclosed please find “Safe Bike Travel Between Colonie and UAlbany/Western Avenue:  Rapp Road the Weak Link.” As all in the Capital District know, Central Avenue is notoriously dangerous for non-motorists and has been the focus of many articles, studies, and traffic design efforts. A bicycle ride between Albany and Colonie along busy Central Avenue is not for the faint of heart. The Central Avenue interchange with the Northway is particularly hazardous for cyclists.   

As described in this document, the Albany Bicycle Coalition has identified a much safer existing alternative route from Central Avenue at Jupiter Avenue to the University at Albany’s Purple Path, and Western Avenue (with its newly re-installed bicycle lanes in Guilderland). The route encompasses several multiuse paths and wide bicycle-friendly roads. The biggest barrier to the proposed route is the sad state of a 0.6-mile segment of Rapp Road. It is ripe for redesign and repaving.Hon. Kathy

We trust that you will agree that this route provides a safe and direct connection using existing (or slightly modified) facilities. With the notable exception of Rapp Rd., we are asking merely for “tweaks” to the present components of the route. That is, we are proposing use of facilities we already have and that are suitable for the intended use. This is not a huge capital expenditure proposal. As the Washington Ave. Corridor project develops, it too will play an important role.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition respectfully requests that you review the attached booklet and consider this modest proposal to make bicycle friendly improvements to this short section of Rapp Road a part of a Rapp Road repaving project.  

Mayor Sheehan, we ask that you consider supporting this campaign by working with us to identify what can be done and how we might make it happen.

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#6 – Close the Lake Road in Washington Park

August 26, 2016 – RE: Close the Road – Washington Park

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

Why not just keep the Washington Park road closed?

No Cars in Sight!

During the “big dig” on Lake Ave., the one-way road along the south side of the lake in Washington Park has been closed to motor vehicle traffic. Since no apparent disaster has occurred because of this closure, may I suggest that it be made permanent?

The residents (and their attendants) of The Royce on the Park (former B’Nai B’Rith Parkview Apartments) as well joggers, walkers, and cyclists regularly use this path into and out of the park. Fir many of them, I would guess that this is a treasured experience of the day. The road could be, of course, open to emergency vehicles and for major park events such as “Holiday Lights.” In the many times I have been on this road, I’ve never seen any constructive use except as a pass through for people in cars and for a few who enjoy parking by the lake.

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Filed under Albany Riverfront Park, Albany-Bike/Ped Master Plan, Albany-Colonie Connector, Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan, City Review, Road Diet - Traffic Calming, South End Bikeway Connector, Support the Cause, Washington Ave., Western Ave.

Monkey Wards Way Now Open

Good News! – The Monkey Wards Way Connector linking Rt. 32/Broadway in Menands at the former Montgomery Ward retail store and warehouse and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail just south of Troy is now open. This is a fine addition to the trail network. 

There is still a little work to be completed (e.g., control panels for the bicycle-pedestrian crossings at Broadway).

UPDATE – as the following two photos (taken 3-30-21) show, the combined bicycle-pedestrian traffic light controls are operational.

#1 – Controls for crossing the I-787 ramp
#2 – Control on west side of Broadway for crossing Broadway
Entry from Broadway (older photo)

Exiting onto Broadway – Bike Route #9

The Route

The RouteMonkey Wards Way is the only Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail entry/exit between Albany’s Corning Riverfront Park and the Rt. 378 Bridge entrance to S. Troy and the only MHBHT access on the West side of the Hudson between Corning Riverfront Park at the Colonie St./boat launch area and 4th Street in Watervliet. The new Menands entrance is about 2.2 miles on Broadway from Watervliet’s 4th St. entrance and 3.1 miles on Broadway from Albany’s N. Lawrence St. Those going to or coming from a location on Broadway would have to choose an entry point – based on their traffic tolerance level and total distance.

Area Map

Previously, once riders started out south from S. Troy or north from the Corning Riverfront Park on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, they committed to a 6-mile ride. This new Connector is the only modification to entry to the MHBHT since the July 2010 installation of the connection from the trail to S. Troy over the Rt. 378 Bridge (10 years ago!).

Connection Ramp to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
A Unicycle Maybe?
Looking Down onto the MHBHT and the Hudson River
Another View of the MHBHT – Note Walker

Sidebar – As an editorial note, this MHBHT/UST connection, as great as it is, was never 100 percent completed. First, there is no wayfinding features at either end so that only the “in-the-know” riders are aware of it. The Troy portion of the trail leaves people on bicycles with 2 options: dive into the “crazy-driver convention” at the Mill St./High/St./Burden Ave./Morrison Ave. traffic spaghetti bowl or ride the narrow, unkempt, bumpy sidewalk from the bridge to the traffic signal at Mill and Water. Not a feat for the faint of heart. One then makes a mad dash to the relative calm of Troy’s wonderful on- and off-street Uncle Sam Trail. For a review of the Uncle Sam Trail, go here – Uncle Sam Trail | Albany Bicycle Coalition On the plus side, the “serpentine” ramp connection between bridge sidewalk and the  trail was carefully engineered so that – although it looks steep – the majority of riders can climb it.

Potential Benefits – For some people, this new connector will be useful. Broadway is slowly being converted to semi-bicycle friendliness with a big gap between N. Pearl and downtown Albany (where there are zero facilities worth note). Northbound, there is a gap from Monkey Wards Way to Watervliet in which there are ample “low stress” side streets until one gets to the (off road) side path at 4th St. (See the CapitalNYBikeMap.) The traffic volume between the new Connector and Watervliet – with the exception of the Rt. 78 exit/entrance ramp area – is manageable for many riders, albeit in a low-low gear.

Westerly View – Note Wards (aka “Riverview Center”)
View from the Trail – Entrance Ramp to I-787 North and Exit Ramp from I-787 South – Noisy!

Monkey Wards Way offers options along that stretch as well as potential connection to other popular cycling routes such as the network of bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Northern Blvd. connecting the City of Albany and Albany Rural Cemetery. New explorers should note that most Van Rensselaer Blvd.-Broadway connections involve some notable hills.

Crossing I-787 – Looking South

Monkey Wards in the Background Looking North – Bike Lanes Approaching the Entrance to Monkey Wards Way

Maintenance – Maintenance will be a major concern, as the bottle throwers will continue their usual practice leaving a trail of potential flats behind them. The sections closest to the roadway will be the most troublesome as motor vehicle traffic sweeps trash into the path. The Rt. 378 path connecting the Uncle Sam Trail to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail suffers from the same malady. Volunteers have occasionally taken to cleaning the area (as it seems to fall in one of those municipal border twilight zones that “is not my problem”). The 378 bridge substantial curbs lessen the sideward movement of road trash, unlike the Monkey Wards Way Bridge where the road way and trail are on one surface near and over the I-787 overpass (see photos). It will need frequent cleaning with non-standard-width equipment.

Construction 1 – Looking West with Monkey Wards to the Right on Broadway

Construction 2 (looking east toward Troy)

Caveats – On the trail, there are two very sharp bends necessitated by the land available and the underpass at the southbound entrance ramp form Rt. 378 to I-87. There are “turn arrow” warning signs on both sides of the underpass, but it is sharp and fast and the tunnel is narrow. Riders will have to be cautious particularly when riding downhill.

The Tunnel – Slow Down!
Exiting the Tunnel Heading West Toward Wards and Broadway

Along Rt. 378 (esp. east bound), the trail is a noisy, noisy route with very high speed traffic just off one’s left shoulder and a skimpy, low-level guard rail.

Trail and Road on Same Surface Level – Low “Guard Rail”

People on bicycles entering the Monkey Wards Way from the south and those continuing north on Broadway will have to deal with a merging motor vehicle right turn lane and the bicycle lane that ends abruptly at the Connector entrance. It is not clear if there will be bicycle-level traffic control for people on bicycles coming south on Broadway and wanting to enter the Connector and the MHBHT. The bicycle lanes run south to the Broadway intersection with N. Pearl St.

Bike Lane-Motor Vehicle Turn Lane – Note Bike Lane Moves from Curb to Through Lane on the Left

Project Description – “Monkey Wards Way” is a playful name used until an official name is chosen. New York State Department of Transportation refers to the $7.9 million project as “Bicycle and Pedestrian Connection from Broadway to the Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail Along the Hudson River, Crossing Interstate 787 in the Village of Menands,” clearly not a catchy title to remember. See more on Department of Transportation’s project here –   NYSDOT | DYN_PROJECT_DETAILS

Conclusion – The new Monkey Wards Way presents an exciting option for riders going to or coming from various destinations. As the so-called warehouse district evolves and bicycle amenities on Broadway are expanded, the Connector suggests some interesting benefits. As always, people on bicycles will be the final judges on any the new bicycle travel option.

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, Empire State Trail, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Trail Network, Watervliet

Rossi Junction – Honoring a Bicycling Hero

Rossi Junction – Honoring a Crucial Bicycling Activist – New York’s network of bike trails, paths, and routes that we enjoy today did not just materialize. In the 1990s laws were enacted that allowed the federal Highway Trust Fund to be used for bicycle and pedestrian needs. Afterwards, public investment in bicycle infrastructure exploded. No activist contributed more to New York State’s bicycle infrastructure than did Lou Rossi. He was a principal influence in opening the trust fund, and then became the driving force behind New York’s system of 21 signed Bike Routes. He wrote popular books on touring the state by bicycle. Moreover, as a founding member of NYBC, the New York State Bicycling Coalition, he formed an organization that vigorously lobbies State government to make cycling in New York friendlier and safer. You can learn more about Lou Rossi’s career and contributions to New York’s bike systems at this Internet link: https://tinyurl.com/RossiStory.

When Lou passed away in 2020, his colleagues at the State Department of Transportation decided to construct a memorial to honor his immense contribution to bicycling. Lou’s work exemplifies the best of Civil Service. Few in the broad bicycle community are aware of his contributions, but we all owe him immense gratitude. His colleagues hope to dedicate the memorial this spring. The memorial will be in Albany the intersection of the two longest Bike Routes – Bike Route 5 from Niagara Falls to Massachusetts and Bike Route 9 from Canada to New York City. ROSSI JUNCTION will denote the junction’s significance and have a rest area for local and touring cyclists’ enjoyment. If you want to know more about the memorial plans, go to this link: https://tinyurl.com/MemorialDescription.

Proposed Memorial Site at Corning Riverfront Park

We are raising funds to erect a suitable junction marker with interpretive plaques. If you enjoy New York State’s bike network or otherwise have benefited from Lou’s efforts we hope you will help.

If you would like to assist, please make a check out to the New York Bicycling Coalition and put “For Lou Rossi Memorial Fund” on the memo line. Mail it to New York Bicycling Coalition, PO Box 8868, Albany, NY 12208. Alternatively, go online at NYBC.net where you can use a credit card.

Thank You from the Committee for a Memorial to Lou Rossi:

Rich Brustman

Barry Hecht

Dick Maitino

Jeff Olson

Questions? You can email us at LouRossiMemorial@gmail.com or call at 518-461-8803

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Filed under Fundraising, Local Heros, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail

COVID-19 Riding

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Albany Bicycle Coalition Consolidated Comments on the Proposed Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan

The Albany Bicycle Coalition, Inc. welcomes 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. Rather than an organization-level response, individual members submitted their comments on the November 2020 Draft to the City of Albany. These individual comments are consolidated into two parts as follows:

  • Specific Comments with Page References
  • General Comments without Specific Page References

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.

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Specific Comments with Page References

2-4 – “29 miles of multi-use trails within the City. These include … Pine Bush Trails…” Not true. There is only one real, paved, “multi-use” trail in the Pine Bush: the Six Mile Waterworks trail, and it is just one-and-a-half miles. All the other trails are suitable only for mountain bikes. This has been observed and relayed to us by Pine Bush Discovery Center staff.

2-4 – Buildout of the 2009 Albany Bicycle Master Plan Based on Shared lanes – QUOTE “The City currently has approximately 26 miles of on-street bicycle infrastructure (not-including multi-use trails), which equates to a build-out of approximately 40% of the 67-mile bicycle network identified in the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan.”

Shared lanes are not a bicycle facility and do not address the needs of people on bicycles. By definition, shared lanes are on mixed-traffic streets. Mixed traffic streets are to have a maximum motor vehicle speed of 20 mph. Albany has not imposed this speed limit on its shared lane streets. National Association of City Transportation Officials makes this adequately clear (italics added): “Shared Lane Markings (SLMs), or ‘sharrows,’ are road markings used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles. Among other benefits shared lane markings reinforce the legitimacy of bicycle traffic on the street,  recommend proper bicyclist positioning, and may be configured to offer directional and wayfinding guidance. The shared lane marking is a pavement marking with a variety of uses to support a complete bikeway network; it is not a facility type and should not be considered a substitute for bicycle lanes, cycle tracks, or other separation treatments where these types of facilities are otherwise warranted or space permits. The MUTCD outlines guidance for shared lane markings in section 9C.07.” The actual “build out” of the 2009 plan is (installed) 4.9 miles (7% or 9% if the South End Connector is considered). The Bicycle Networks made up of bicycle lane-to-bicycle lane connections are as follows: Ten Broeck Ave. and Clinton Ave. – Total mileage of 1.7 + 0.2 = 1.9 mi.); and Northern Blvd. and Shaker Rd. – Total mileage of 0.9 + 0.3 + 0.2 = 1.4 mi. (This also ties in directly to the 1.5 miles of Van Rensselaer/Rt. 377 bicycle lanes which are mostly in Menands (for a total mileage of 0.9 + 0.3 + + 0.2 + 1.5 = 2.9 mi. Additional to these are the isolated bicycle lanes on Madison Ave. – 0.5 (installed 2016) + 1.1 (2018) = 1.6.

See – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2017/07/08/89398/ ).

The final 2009 Albany Bicycle Master Plan designated 18 “major bikeways” within the City of Albany. While the plan did not specify bicycle road treatments, it suggested many including bicycle lanes but with long stretches of shared lanes. In several instances, the plan called for narrowing motor vehicle travel lanes to provide space for bicycle lanes. The approximate total miles of these 18 bikeways is 40.64 (using Google Maps distance function). The city only completed parts of #2 and #8.

  1. Western Ave. – from Sprague/Washington Ave. to City line (UA entrance) – 3.25 miles
  2. Madison Ave. – from Broadway to S. Allen/Western Ave. (NYS Bike Route 5) – 2.59 miles
  3. Washington Ave. – from State St. to Fuller Rd. – 4.8 miles
  4. Central Ave. – from Washington Ave. to city line (Vatrano Rd.) – 2.85 miles
  5. New Scotland Ave. – from Madison Ave. to city line (Normanside Dr.) – 4.14 miles
  6. Delaware Ave. from Madison Ave. to city line (Normanskill) – 2.11 miles
  7. Whitehall Rd. from Delaware Ave. to New Scotland Ave. – 1.99 miles
  8. Clinton Ave. from Central Ave. to Broadway – 2.02 miles
  9. Broadway from Quay St. (Slater) to city line (Lindbergh Ave.) – 3.74 miles
  10. Green St. from Madison Ave. to 4th Ave. – 0.5 miles
  11. Lark St. from Madison Ave. to Manning Blvd. – 1.12 miles
  12. S. Pearl St. from 4th Ave. to city line (South Port Rd. and Normanskill) – 1.39 miles
  13. Northern Blvd.-Manning Blvd.-Ten Broeck St. from Central Ave. to Shaker Rd. via Clinton Ave. – 2.48 miles (via Livingston – 2.32 miles)
  14. Shaker Rd. from Broadway to city line (Lindbergh Ave.) – 0.91 miles
  15. Quail St. from New Scotland Ave. to Livingston Ave. – 1.48 miles
  16. Manning Blvd. from Whitehall Rd. to Central Ave. – 2.49 miles
  17. McCarty Ave./Southern Blvd. from Delaware Ave. to S. Pearl St. – 1.38 miles
  18. Holland Ave./Morton Ave./Rensselaer St. from New Scotland Ave. to Green St. – 1.48 miles

2-5Madison East of Lark St. is Not “Infrastructure” merely because there are signs (“In Lane” etc.). It is narrow with very heavy traffic, highly unsuitable for average cyclists. As the plan itself points out on 2-17: “Many of these streets only feature “sharrows” or signage, which are useful for wayfinding but do not improve the comfort or safety of people riding bicycles unless they are on streets with less than 1,000 cars per day and have speeds 20 mph or less.”

2-5 – The Map Should Show Berkshire Blvd. as a High-Stress Roadway. It is a medium-level arterial, and yet pedestrian traffic is heavy because it’s a direct route to Buckingham Lake park – as was pointed out by several residents at the user group meeting. This is borne out by the “heat map” on page 3-22, and bullet point #9 on page 3-25.

2-8, Fig 5 – L3 Classification – At present, one cannot classify any bicycle lane in the city as L-3 – a suitable for the “interested but concerned.” Classifying Washington Ave. and Central Ave. as L-3 strains credulity.

The three major bicycle lanes are on streets with 30 mph posted speed limits and much higher design limits. Tellingly, each bicycle lane segment ends without notice and provides no preceding or following “L-3 facility.” None of the installed bicycle lanes is as safe as it could or should be made. Only the lanes in the Northern Blvd. area are buffered. The city rejected protected bicycle lanes on Madison Ave. in favor of unbuffered lanes. With the exception of the most recently installed bicycle lanes, the lanes have not been maintained or improved from their original installation. Faded and scrubbed pavement markings, lack of through-intersection dotted line green zones, lack of signage, and mixed bicycle lane-motor vehicle right-turn lanes, are just some of the areas needing attention.

2-9 Throwing in the Trowel – QUOTE “However, there has been a historic assignment of the curb lane and travel lanes to people driving, and therefore making changes to prioritize bicycle travel on streets would require extensive engagement.” What has been history – giving unchallenged street priority to motor vehicles – can and should remain just that – history. What some refer to as “painted gutters” no longer meet the needs of a “cycling city.” It no longer suffices for the City of Albany to design bicycle facilities will out due attention for the impact of people in cars on them. No road is truly safe for people on bicycles or walking if it depends on the skill, courtesy, or attentiveness of people in cars. Anyone who professes otherwise has never ridden a bicycle or walked in a city.

“The cornerstone of cycling infrastructure … is the provision of separate cycling facilities along heavily traveled roads and at intersections, combined with extensive traffic calming of residential neighborhoods. Safe and stress-free cycling routes are especially important for less assertive and more physically vulnerable cyclists … “[SOURCE: Walker, Amy (Ed.). On Bicycles Novato CA: New World Library, 2011.] Data provided in the City of Albany’s November 2020 “Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan Draft” maintain that 82 percent of cyclists are in the category of who need this level of accommodation. These “Portland” data have been going around since at least 2008. If one adds in the 7% of the population who want (a) better bicycle facilities, (b) better end-of-trip facilities and (c) separated bikeways, then up to 89 percent of the population are just not going to ride on streets designed under an “all cars-all the time” philosophy. Does that mean that only 11 percent of the population will ride on our Albany streets? [SOURCE: Microsoft Word – Four Types of Cyclists] You will find that Albany Bicycle Coalition’s position calls for the Albany Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan to go beyond bicycles and feet and to be an all-modes “city transportation plan.” Simply put, one cannot plan effectively for one mode (say people on bicycles or people walking) without considering all other modes (e.g., people in cars). Regardless of what approach the city chooses to take, the reality is that incidental approaches (such as Complete Streets) always involve compromising safety.

updated 2009.doc (portlandoregon.gov) and Understanding and Measuring Bicycling Behavior: a Focus on Travel Time and Route Choice (pdx.edu) ]

2-11, Fig. 10 Close Park Roads – Close all parks to all through traffic driving on Sundays between 10 am (or earlier) and 5-7 pm. (Allow cars to leave from the parks at any time but preclude their reentering during the prohibited hours.)

2-17 – Shared Lanes QUOTE “Many of these streets only feature “sharrows” or signage, which are useful for wayfinding but do not improve the comfort or safety of people riding bicycles unless they are on streets with less than 1,000 cars per day and have speeds 20 mph or less.” it is not clear how shared lanes contribute to wayfinding. The City of Albany installs shared lanes as paving occurs. Thus, there will be a block or two of shared lanes bookended by conventional car streets with no bicycle-related markings. As an additional barrier to the proper use of shared lanes, New York State Department of Transportation replaced the federal (bicycle graphic) MAY USE FULL LANE with the (bicycle graphic) IN LANE. To further confuse the issue, shared lanes in the city are also marked with (bicycle graphic) SHARE THE ROAD. Thus, the same pavement marking has up to three different supporting signs adding to the confusion already manifest with the shared lanes concept for both people on bicycles and in cars. This does not account for the added confusion for visitors to the City of Albany and New York State in cars and on bicycles who are familiar with the federally approved (bicycle graphic) MAY USE FULL LANE in use in neighboring states.

2-18 – Right column needs to be split in two. “Unconstrained/Constrained by Parking Corridors” is hardly a single category; it is just confusing. Instead of saying “Eastern Segment,” say “East of ***** street” so that it is self-explanatory. Likewise for Northern.

2-18 – Figure 21 and Elsewhere – Delaware Ave. and Bethlehem – It is shortsighted not to tie into Bethlehem’s road diet for its portion of Delaware Ave. ABC brought this up at the neighborhood meetings. If the city and its surrounding communities want to create a unified bicycle infrastructure, they need to talk to each other, or at least be aware of each other’s plans and keep them in mind when developing their own.

Delaware Ave. between Morton Ave. and the NYS Thruway Bridge is currently precluded from having protected bicycle lanes – the minimally appropriate treatment. The city has given motor vehicle parking top priority. From the Thruway Bridge to the city line and the junction with Bethlehem’s traffic-calmed, bicycle-laned portion of Delaware Ave. there are a number of treatments that could help the City of Albany address its own motor vehicle congestion, parking, safety, and environmental concerns. Facilitating commuting between Bethlehem and Albany would do much to alleviate these issues that plague “downtown” Albany. This is as true today as when Albany Bicycle Coalition proposed it to the city in 2007.

There are thus two issues: (a) what to do about parking (that is, to take back space for use by people on bicycles) and (b) is there a way to make the Bethlehem-Albany bicycle trip better? To do something radical involves removing around 150 parking spots on Delaware Ave. A compromise would be a complete re-working of Delaware Ave. as follows: (a) from the Thruway to Morton, 20 mph speed, raised intersections, shared lanes, and (b) major rework of Delaware Ave. from Madison Ave. to Morton and from the Thruway Bridge to the Bethlehem town line. Under the tongue-in-cheek “Parking Places Matter,” it takes political will to the blanket removal of on-street, tax-supported storage apace for personal property (motor vehicles). A reasonable compromise is the above outline – breaking Delaware Ave. into three segments.

3-21 and Elsewhere – Intersections – One might venture those intersections that are problematic for people walking are also so for people on bicycles (and even people in cars). In that this is the case, there are a number of approaches that might well be included in the plan as definitive steps (vs. suggestions) with an emphasis on bicycles; to wit:

  • Bicycle sensitive/bicycle-priority traffic signals at high traffic intersections.
  • Green surface treatment for “bicycle boxes,” dotted bicycle lanes through intersections, and other locations.
  • Elimination or enhanced treatment of instances of combined right turn/bicycle lane.
  • On-demand traffic light control “buttons” reachable without dismounting.
  • Substantial (not painted) bulb outs to control speed and reduce pedestrian walk distance.
  • Sidewalk-height raised intersections to facilitate foot and wheelchair traffic
  • Install curb-level bulb outs at selected intersections on all streets with bicycle lanes to preclude motor vehicles from using the parking lane to squeeze past people on bicycles to make right turns.
  • Elimination of Belgium block (aka ‘cobblestones) road treatment as a hazard to both riders and walkers. They also are an extreme barrier to people in wheelchairs or motorized 3-wheelers. These are presently (presumably as a speed control measures (?)) on streets that are already challenge to ride or cross – S. Pearl St. and Lark St.
  • Elimination of the green “bicycle speed bumps” as installed on Madison Ave. (where they serve no discernable purpose other than to drive people on bicycles into the motor vehicle travel lane).
  • 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 and paint curbs to restrict the parking at corners until funds are available to reconstruct the curbs.

3-23 – Listening Sessions – There is no evidence of outreach to utilitarian cyclists – those who are not represented by conventional bicycle, neighborhood, or other organizations. These are riders who use their bicycles as a primary means of transportation. From our experience in the Albany Bicycle Coalition, this is a very difficult group to reach. Nonetheless, it would be good to see that some effort occurs in this direction as a concrete contribution to an equity-based plan.

The “bicycle user group” presumably means the “Albany Bicycle Coalition.” While most members and followers of the Albany Bicycle Coalition do, in fact, “use bicycles,” that is far from the limit of our ability, intent, or record. We are a 16-year-old, incorporated, not-for-profit, bicycle-advocacy group. Our objectives and our actions are the promotion of bicycle riding. To that end, we have tirelessly attempted to influence the direction of the cycling movement in Schenectady (with our partner Cycle Schenectady), Troy (with Troy Bike Rescue and Transport Troy), Town of Colonie, the Village of Colonie, and Saratoga Springs (with Bike Toga). Yes, we do occasionally host rides but they are designed to address issues vital to the city (e.g., Earth Day Rides) or raise awareness of cultural benefits and challenges (e.g., Albany Public Library rides). More than talk or lobby, we also developed a free, interactive bicycle map currently just enlarged to connect the City of Albany with the Town of Colonie, Troy, Niskayuna, and Schenectady. We check, recheck, and monitor every route on the map is to ensure its utility for many cyclists. No regional municipality even offers a print map much less one that people can access from most portable devices. We are blessed with articulate rider/members who bring to the Albany planning table years and miles of city, suburban, and rural cycling experience. Many members have made extensive trips to assess bicycle facilities in other states and cities. Our members attempt to keep abreast of bicycle-related and highway/street-related issues and sit on various committees to both learn and contribute. We maintain the only regional bicycle “blog” to report out on cycling developments and on areas of interest to people on bicycles. Our frequent emails are well received and, again, seem to be the only service of that nature in the area.

3-25 Stop Signs as Speed Control – QUOTE “Traffic lights in certain neighborhoods encourage people to speed, and could be replaced with stop signs for improved results.” The City of Albany has attempted to use STOP signs for speed control unsuccessfully. Frequently, people from residential areas call upon the city to “do something” to cut down on neighborhood speeding. The treatment has often been installation of STOP signs. What actually controls speed is road design, not signage.

3-25 Patroon Greenway Project – It is curious (and possibly counterproductive) that Albany received a study grant for the Patroon Creek Greenway, yet it is ignored it in the draft plan except for a couple cursory references. It is not on the “map” of priorities. This would make anyone looking at funding Albany for the Patroon Creek Greenway question the City’s commitment.

4-29 – “The network should connect to places people want to go and should provide continuous direct routes.” Agree 100%. This is the most critical feature of any bicycle network. A “bicycle boulevard” that extends for just a few blocks is merely a gesture and is not useful.

4-29 – Guiding Principles – QUOTE “Well designed and maintained bicycle and pedestrian facilities promote more walking and biking and promotes higher levels of travel by foot or by bike.”

However, people on bicycles want direct, not roundabout routes. Pedestrians and bicyclists want facilities that are safe, attractive, continuous, convenient, and easy to use. The paramount concern is that any “on-road” facility, unless it is a well-designed, protected (and paint is not a protectant) bicycle lane, causes stress for people on bicycles and for those who might hope to ride their bicycles. People do not want to (and will not) ride in (motor vehicle dominated) traffic.

4-29 Complete Streets QUOTE “Guidance for successful integration of bicycle and pedestrian facilities comes from Complete Streets principles, which dictate that all streets should have adequate infrastructure for every mode of transportation. The proposed network improvements that follow are based on the City of Albany Complete Streets Policy and Design Manual, which includes preferred design guidelines for each of the six street typologies that vary based on the FWHA functional classification and land-use context (see Figure 29), and guidelines compiled from best practices, including NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide and Bikeway Design Guide and NYS Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.”

What the City of Albany needs is SAFE (not just “adequate”) infrastructure for every mode of transportation. The terms “adequate infrastructure for every mode of transportation” and “accommodate all road users,” reveal the weakness in the Complete Streets philosophy. If the relevant laws or ordinances stated “safe infrastructure for every mode,” it might be applicable to a bicycle/pedestrian master plan. Currently Complete Streets has to be (1) (only) considered and (2) always involves compromises with the destructive power of the motor vehicle receiving a greater share of the results. The plan should always emphasize “safe streets” over “complete streets.” 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 for safe streets. Make safety the priority in all street designs. The City of Albany is not obligated to use the lower Complete Streets standards in developing its bicycle and pedestrian facilities. It can seek out and meet higher standards to set the tone for New York State and cities across the state.

5-31-33 and 5-43 – Parking for Motor Vehicles –QUOTE “Remove on-street parking where feasible …” is inadequate. People without cars contribute more money to street construction and maintenance that do those who park cars on city streets. Notably, many who seek out “free,” on-street parking are commuters who contribute nothing to street maintenance or construction. Of these, many enter the city from the surrounding superhighways and yet do not abandon their highway conduct upon first entering the city. On-street parking is second in priority to people’s free and open access to safe streets. More germane, prohibit all 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). See also “daylighting.

5-32 – Vision Zero – The draft Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan makes passing reference to vision zero but it does not appear to have been embraced as an underlying design goal.

5-34, Fig. 31 Side Paths – The figure calls for protected bicycle lanes for roadways with motor vehicle speeds of < 25 mph and > 26 mph. What is needed here is side paths completely separated from the motor vehicle lanes and restricted to bicycle use (although a pedestrian adjunct is possible if space permits). Side paths for people on bicycles need to be restricted to that use to preclude bicycle-pedestrian conflict. The two functions can be combined with proper separation, signage, and surface markings.

5-35 – Bike network map, and 5-41 prioritization map:

  • Helderberg Ave cannot work as a bicycle boulevard unless the dead-ends are clearly marked as permitting public bicycle access. They look 100% like private property.
  • Western Ave to UAlbany should be one of the highest priorities of all. Ranking it “low” really means it will never be improved. It should be embarrassing to see the Guilderland bicycle lanes come to a screeching halt at the Albany city limits.
  • South Pearl St. north of I-787 is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “bicycle boulevard.” Its extremely heavy traffic, including numerous trucks, makes it unsuitable for any cyclists except the most fearless.
  • The end of Lincoln Ave is shown as high and medium priority, leading to Central Ave. However, Central is LOW priority, so in essence the plan funnels people into a dead end.
  • Protected bicycle lane on McCarty Ave is a waste of money. The hill is so steep that it is nearly impossible to come up, and unsafe to go down.
  • The following are already complete, so why are they included?
  • Madison Ave is shown as “high” priority – but it was finished two years ago.
    2) Ten Broeck St. and Northern Blvd. bicycle lanes – all work has been completed, yet the map shows them as high and medium priority.
    3) South End Connector was completed last July, except for amenities and some safety oversights. Only normal maintenance would be expected from this point on.

5-35 – Bicycle Boulevards – The first thing that strikes one is the plethora of so-called “bicycle boulevards” – the yellow/mustard map key. According to National Association of City Transportation Officials “Bicycle boulevards are streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Bicycle Boulevards use signs, pavement markings, and speed and volume management measures to discourage through trips by motor vehicles and create safe, convenient bicycle crossings of busy arterial streets.” (Highlights added) [SOURCE Bicycle Boulevards | National Association of City Transportation Officials (nacto.org):] Are Livingston Ave., State St., and N. Pearl St. appropriate bicycle boulevard candidates?

Designating a street as a bicycle boulevard when it is not and can never be one seems a poor strategy and one that will build false expectations with those citizens who yearn for bikeable streets. It is also noteworthy that some so-called bicycle boulevards are not through, travel-type streets but side streets and dead ends. Will they lead to anywhere? Is the city prepared to mandate 20 mph speed limits on all bicycle boulevards? Is it prepared to limit through travel for motor vehicle on (some of) these streets through the use of midblock dead ends, alternating one way designations, eliminating “right on red,” etc.? Note also from NACTO, pg. 207, bicycle boulevards are not substitutes for direct route facilities.

It is unclear how these will play out. If these will actually lead to reduction of speed along these streets so that bicycles and cars can cohabit these spaces they would be fine. If they are just going to be “sharrows” painted on streets (until they wear away), they will provide no value.

5-35 – Network vs. Core Route – Depending on one’s definition of a “network,” the plan proposes a large number of streets for treatment but does not indicate how they will constitute a network of core routes that will “take people on bicycles from here to there.” The City of Albany needs to establish at least four key networks or core routes and needs to concentrate on building these before attending to feeder streets or recreational facilities. Each core route would be comprised of various on- or off-road segments, each with a designated facility treatment. The core routes are the essence and backbone of a successful plan.

One of the paramount concerns is the proposed treatments of New Scotland Avenue. You are well aware at our collective dissatisfaction with the St. Peters Hospital “traffic study” which advocated for giving motor vehicle parking priority over the safety of people on bicycles or walking and over the need for riders to access Bethlehem and Albany via New Scotland Ave.

The plan already calls for connecting Madison Ave. to Guilderland as part of Core Route C below. Albany Bicycle Coalition’s CapitalNYBikeMap has some good connections in many areas that could be made somewhat attractive. [SOURCE: CapitalNYBikeMap | Albany Bicycle Coalition] The draft plan chose two neighbors to which we already have good connections – Menands/Watervliet/Green Isl. and Guilderland (via Western Ave. and/or the CapitalNYBikeMap). The four key core routes are proposed as follows:

  1. Menands-Albany-Bethlehem Connector (a “north-south” connector) – This would use Broadway and Delaware Ave. and join these two via the (unprotected) bicycle lane on Clinton Ave. and a “cross town” segment yet to be designated.
  2. “North-South” Connector #2 – This would favor the western side of the main metropolitan area and might connect to a re-designed Hackett Blvd. off road, side path.
  3. Hudson River-Guilderland Connector – This would require substantial work to get from the Hudson River/Corning Riverfront Park/South End Connector to the (unprotected) bicycle lanes on Madison Ave. These lanes then would be joined to those in Guilderland by protected lanes on Western Ave. from N. Allen to the city line.
  4. Hudson River-Broadway-Northside-Town of Colonie Connector – This would grow out from the Washington Ave. “corridor study” project with protected bicycle lanes on Washington Ave.

5-40New Scotland Ave. is shown as “high demand” for bike / ped.

5-41 – But, it has no “priority” whatsoever – not even “low”! It is extremely disappointing that the City is choosing to willfully disregard the numerous public meeting comments advocating for bicycle infrastructure on New Scotland Ave. This is your last chance to correct a major policy blunder that would sabotage bicycling progress in Albany for years to come.

5-46 – Need illustrations, diagrams, or at least clearer descriptions of “corner wedges,” “bend-out.” Those are not included on the page 5-48 diagram.

5-48 – Diagram is just terrible: (1) extremely crowded – tries to squeeze too much information on one page and (2) impossible to figure out where the lanes really are.

6-58 and Elsewhere – 20 MPH – The Albany Bicycle Coalition called for establishment of lower speed limits throughout the city. This is an unaddressed safety concern. It is clearly established that motor vehicle’s striking a pedestrian or cyclist has a greater chance of causing injury or death at speeds over 20 mph. That’s “science.”

As a start and as part of its education program for people in cars, the city needs to establish a 20-mph “green zone” bounded by and including Clinton Ave., Broadway, Madison Ave., and Henry Johnson Blvd. A second wave expansion of the “green zone” could extend further north of Clinton Ave. for the section near N. Pearl, probably a few blocks beyond Livingston Ave. The northbound I-787 ramp to Clinton Ave. is redesigned and is already partially approved and funded to become a multipurpose trail leading to the Hudson River/Corning Riverfront Park. This gets people coming and going to and from the Corning Riverfront Park to the proposed northern edge of the green zone. However, many of those people will chose to walk or bicycle both north and south of this (to be heavily used) access point. Many of the cultural attractions in the area used to generate and will generate pedestrian and some bicycle travel in the area from Clinton Ave. north to Colonie St. including the Palace Theatre. Audiences for the Palace and for the newly relocated Capital Repertory Theatre on the Livingston Ave.-N. Pearl St. corner will add to this non-motorized traffic. Currently, people park their cars under I-787 and then walk or bicycle into downtown or at least to N. Pearl St. attractions near Colonie St. Conversely, people downtown access the Hudson River and trail.

The City of Albany should work with 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” as described above. Reduce speed limit on all park roads in the City of Albany to 15 mph with traffic calming changes 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.

6-65 – Berkshire Blvd. sidewalks show “low priority”; it should be medium or high. There is heavy pedestrian movement for nearly a mile west of Colonial Ave. because Berkshire Blvd. is the only way to access the heavily-used Buckingham Pond Park. This was pointed out by several people at the neighborhood public zoom meeting, and I can confirm this from many years of personal observation.

7-72 – QUOTE: “Refine Maintenance Standards – Encouraging walking and regular ridership on a network means the network must be well maintained, with regular sweeping and short response times for repairs. Commuter ridership, in particular, requires that routes to major workplaces are consistently clear of snow and debris, and pavement is free from cracks, potholes, and other defects. Maintenance can be a partnership between public, private, and advocacy organizations and can be facilitated by issue-reporting apps such as SeeClickFix.” This must be a basic premise of the plan’s implementation. Historically, the city has allowed two things: (1) deterioration of the pavement markings on those routes having bicycle lanes and (2) not enhancing and improving the few miles of bicycle lanes in place. Since the city has relied on on-street facilities (as opposed to side paths and protected ones), the pavement markings suffer from street plowing and cleaning and the constant flow of non-bicycle traffic.

General Comments without Specific Page References

Various Pages – Regional Connectivity – The plan needs to call for connections outside the city proper. Albany needs to build a continuous active transportation network to access major community destinations for all residents and for residents of the outlying communities to access the city for work, recreation, shopping, and errands. The Albany Bicycle Coalition’s CapitalNYBikeMap highlights many of the connections that the city can easily implement with signage and pavement management.

Other Comments – An independent cyclist, pedestrian, bus rider, and disabled person provided the following specific comments to Albany Bicycle Coalition for inclusion in this submission. Some comments from this submission are blended into the general presentation.

  • Establish a safe route from the University at Albany to Central Ave. via Fuller Rd. and to the Washington Ave ext.
  • Enforce rules about parking a certain number of feet from curb to allow seeing on-coming traffic.
  • Make the Patroon Creek Blvd. Complex accessible to pedestrians/cyclists. At present, here is no safe way for people walking to reach this complex. There is no CDTA service. Riding a bicycle is only for the “brave and fearless.”
  • Establish a “Bicycle Benefits” program to encourage people on bicycles to wear helmets, to adhere to “rules of the road,” and to perfect there riding skills in traffic.
  • Enforce “rules of the road” behavior by people on bicycles or walking.

Building a network – It  looks that much thought went into connecting bicycle and pedestrian people with the places they need to go.  North-South connections are considered and are much needed. A good effort overall, though there is room for improvement

Protected Bicycle Lanes – Western Ave., Washington Ave., Central Ave., Manning Blvd., Morton Ave., McAlpin/McCarty, Frisbee/Slinglerland are good suggestions. They would also be advisable for Main Ave., State St., Green St., and Shaker Rd.

Extending the Hackett Blvd. Multiuse Path – Going west to Manning Blvd. and east to Holland Ave. and Lark St. was brought up at several meetings and this addition is welcomed.

Department of Corrections and Community Services Multiuse Path Network – This multiuse path are the facility was not included in the draft plan. DCCS finished paving the path along McCormack Rd. from New Scotland Ave. to their entrance by Fairway Ct. The Matre Christi Park/Pool will be accessible by separate paths from New Scotland and McCormack.

New Scotland Ave. and Delaware Ave. – No treatment at all for New Scotland and Delaware Avenues. As pointed out many times, Delaware and New Scotland are unavoidable for cyclists entering and leaving the city. The limited ability for cyclists to cross Route 85 and NYS Thruway/I-87 funnels cyclists onto New Scotland and Delaware. The Strava heatmaps that show bicycle data over the last two years demonstrate that these are primary routes for cyclists. The brighter lines demonstrate higher use. The plan cannot wish cyclists away from these streets. A responsible plan must figure out how to accommodate them. Accommodate cyclists on Delaware and New Scotland as follows: (1) impose bicycle lanes on New Scotland (instead of parking spaces) from O’Neill Rd (by the Golf Course) to Manning Blvd., (2) Turn the Krumkill Rd/Rt 85 crossing and Buckingham Dr. into a bicycle boulevard, and (3) Install bicycle lanes or bicycle boulevards on Delaware Ave. from the Bethlehem line to Maple Ridge. These steps would connect cyclists from these outer sections of the city to the rest of your planned bicycle network.

Everett Road – This is another crucial crossing of limited use that cyclists and pedestrians must and do use. See for example the Strava heat maps provided. It is unreasonable to expect cyclists and pedestrians go miles out of the way. The I-90 ramps are especially dangerous. We hope the Planning Department will make vigorous efforts to build in bicycle/ pedestrian accommodations. The management of people riding bicycles or walking on Everett Rod./I-90 bridge/Interchange will also be crucial to development of the Patroon Creek Greenway, in which the Planning Department is also involved.

Albany Skyway and Clinton Ave. – Connect the Albany Skyway and Clinton Ave. The plan does not have any treatment for the connection of the new Skyway and the Clinton Ave. bicycle lanes. The plan comes very close to providing safe travel between the Hudson River and the Corning Riverfront Park and the Tivoli Lake Preserve and Arbor Hill/West Hill. Something needs to be done with those last couple of blocks from Ten Broeck to Broadway. This could all easily become part of the proposed Patroon Creek Greenway that would give north Albany something to rival the South End Connector and the Albany County Rail Trail.

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