On a chilly May evening a group of riders set out on the Capital Region’s annual Ride of Silence to commemorate the deaths of bicycle riders. As in past years, Albany Bicycle Coalition ride leaders used Ghost Bike sites as the stopping points for the ride. At each site, riders were briefed on the circumstances that resulted in the death.
The ride originated at the Corning Riverside Park in Albany and proceeded first to the site of Jose Perez’s (killed 8/3/06, age 60) Ghost Bike at Broadway and Quay St. To avoid crossing the Broadway and the Quay St. intersection, the ride stopped at the Slater’s berth we’re a sign displayed Jose’s name and the date of his death.
The ride then headed back on the Empire State Trail to the new Albany Skyway, crossed the Skyway and took local streets to the Edston J. Kirnon (died 7/22/17, age 42) site at North Pearl and Wilson streets.
From the Edston site, the riders headed north on the Empire State Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail to the cycle track in Watervliet. They then took local streets to the Joshua Santiago site (killed 7/9/14, age 14) at 4th Ave. and 19th St. A new Ghost Bike was recently installed in his memory. During the stop at Joshua’s site, a local resident asked if she could shout out “Go Joshua!” which she then did.
The 17 riders reversed course back to the boat launch at the Corning Riverside Park where they dispersed.
Notes on Deceased CyclistsWhose Ghost Bike Will Be Stopping Pointsin the 2023 Ride of Silence.
5/17/23 – Ride of Silence – Wed, 5:30 PM. Albany Bicycle Coalition will hold its annual Ride of Silence to commemorate cyclists that have been killed or seriously injured. The ride will leave Corning Preserve Boat Launch in Albany at 5:30 PM. Persons wanting to join the ride later may meet the group when it passes by the Boat Launch again between 6:15pm and 6:30pm. There is no cost for the ride and anyone with a bicycle and a helmet may join. The ride will be approximately 17.5 miles and include stops at sites where persons died while cycling in downtown Albany, Watervliet and Troy.
Jose Perez – 8/3/06 (age 60) Bicyclist killed by SUV, Broadway at Quay St., Albany. Jose Perez was remembered Friday as a man who enjoyed a good debate over the state of the world. Jose did not own a car and used his bicycle to get around, often taking rides at the Corning Preserve bike path along the Hudson River. A friend said, “He went all over on that bike.” Dusk was falling at about 8:30 PM when Perez crossed into traffic near Quay St. and Broadway. A sport utility vehicle heading north could not stop and struck the cyclist head-on. Perez was pronounced dead at the scene. His friend explained “He was probably coming back from the preserve and was a little late. It probably didn’t help that he wasn’t wearing a helmet.” Jose’s sister later left this note on his ghost bike, the first installed in the City of Albany: “Attention: I greatly appreciate those who made this memorial in remembrance of my brother José Perez (Ray) I would very much like for you to contact me. Thank you.” The driver, who passed a sobriety test at the scene, will not be ticketed, police said. [SOURCE: Times Union, Section: Capital Region, Page: B4, Saturday, August 5, 2006]
Edston J. Kirnon – 7/22/17 (age 42) Bicyclist collided with side of CDTA bus, N. Pearl St., Albany a block north of the Palace Theater at the intersection of N. Pearl and Wilson sts. The cyclist was killed instantly. Police said, “He was coming down the hill at a high rate of speed and hit the bus.” He was not wearing a helmet. A neighbor, who heard the crash, said the man was her neighbor’s boyfriend. “He was kind and neighborly. He and his girlfriend had a beautiful relationship. They were always surrounded by family and friends, celebrating and laughing. There was a lot of love there.” A witness said there is a bus stop at the corner, but no one was waiting for the bus or getting off, so the driver didn’t stop. There is no stop sign on North Pearl Street, but there is a stop sign on Wilson Street, which is one-way. The bus driver was given field sobriety test at the scene before she was released. She could be seen crying as she got into a car. [SOURCE: http://www.timesunion.com/7dayarchive/article/Albany-police-on-scene-at-bicycle-vs-bus-accident-11307576.php#photo-13283511]
Joshua T. Santiago – 7/9/14 (age 14) Driver hit and killed cyclist who entered a 4-way intersection going the wrong way on a one-way street without stopping. The incident occurred at 19th St. and 4th Ave. Watervliet at 12:44 AM. Joshua had lived in Cohoes the past nine years and attended Cohoes Middle School. He loved to ride his bicycle and listen to music including Eminem and Hollywood Undead. Joshua is survived by his parents, brother, grandparents, and several aunts, uncles and cousins. [SOURCE: ]
Stephen Nolan 6/6/14 (age 53) Driver killed cyclist, King & Federal Sts., Troy. According to Troy Police, Nolan collided with an automobile on 6/2/14 causing his death. He was hit by a motor vehicle traveling north on King Street. At this point, no charges are expected to be filed against the driver. Stephen was survived by two brothers for whom this message was posted, “I remember Stevie so well from the old neighborhood. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with both of you at this time.”
The Bottom Line – If New Yorkers want safer streets, they are going to have to “stand up and be counted” against those forces that – knowingly or otherwise – stand in the way of this goal.
The Backstory – Once, a long time ago, the statewide municipal speed limit was 25 mph. The highway limit was 50. Somewhere along the way to our present state of roadway mayhem, the municipal limit was raised to 30 and the highway to 55 (1974). Remember? Somehow the “traffic engineers” decided that if we were killing people at 25, why hesitate to go to 30? Aren’t people in a hurry to get somewhere? But wait! “Results show that the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10% at an impact speed of 16 mph, 25% at 23 mph, 50% at 31 mph, 75% at 39 mph, and 90% at 46 mph. The average risk of death for a pedestrian reaches 10% at an impact speed of 23 mph, 25% at 32 mph, 50% at 42 mph, 75% at 50 mph, and 90% at 58 mph.” National Association of City Transportation Officials will tell you the same thing. This is the AAA speaking, probably one of the organizations that, of any, backed the “all cars-all the time” situation in which we now suffer. Would you want to guess what the average actual speed is in 30-mph zones?
What We’re Doing – Albany Bicycle Coalition (ABC) is part of the statewide Safe Streets Coalition that pushed for the 25-mph legislation. It passed last year, 2022. ABC worked with the bill sponsors to coordinate the campaign to get passed. It was part of the set of bills called the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act (CVRSA) that was regularly discussed at ABC meetings. ABC members made calls and wrote to State Legislators and the Governor, participated in a Lobby Day at the Capitol, and spoke before the Assembly Transportation Committee. ABC was successful in getting Albany City Common Council to unanimously pass a resolution in support of the CVRSA. Other cities and towns followed. Three of those CVRSA bills passed including the 25-mph bill.
The 25-mph law was a victory, but it was tempered with a late amendment placing substantial barriers in the way of implementation. This same mentality is also the reason we still don’t have a 3-foot safe passage law for cyclists as is the case in 36 other states and the District of Columbia.
The Cities Speak – After the bill passed Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Bethlehem, and Saratoga Springs all started to pursue lowering their speed limits. We are following their progress and need to be ready to speak out when these ordinances are ready for public comment. In the meantime, there is great confusion about what is required to meet the hurdle of the language below. We hope that the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) will hold a webinar to help everyone contend with it all the barriers to this critical, “safety-first” speed limit.
ABC and other Safe Streets members are concerned about the lack of clarity on how to proceed to 25 mph. We ask – why not base the speed-reduction ordinances on these factors?
Rate of fatalities and injuries.
Existing studies (e.g., the data already in Albany’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan).
Increasing prevalence and deadliness of larger vehicles.
Increasing statewide traffic violence (e.g., all traffic fatalities in NY up another 4 percent in first 9 months of 2022).
In the meantime, we are waiting for regulations. If they are not satisfactory, we will probably seek a new amendment to the statute.
Act Now – This year ABC is joining with the Safe Streets Coalition in pursuing the bills that can be found at https://www.transalt.org/safe. The collection of bills is called the Safe Streets Act (instead of the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act). You can help by following the link and then clicking on “Take Action Now for Safe Streets”. It will help you auto-generate a message to your NYS Senator and Assembly Member. You can edit the message to include your comments about the current 25-mph bill!
You can also help make streets safer locally by spreading word about the Capital Region Vision Zero Alliance. This Alliance is taking the effort for safer streets beyond bicycle and pedestrian groups. We aim to diversify, coordinate and amplify the demand for the tried-and-true changes we need on the local level. We want to bring in organizations concerned with public health, crime, safety for our young and old, and even AAA – anyone concerned with safe roads.
Barriers – This is the Infamous language (the complete source appears below) included in the 25-mph law: “No speed limits shall be established pursuant to the provisions of this section except in accordance with the engineering considerations and factors for speed limits set forth in the manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic control devices maintained by the commissioner of transportation pursuant to section sixteen hundred eighty of this title, as such manual and specifications may be amended from time to time, certified by a licensed professional engineer who specializes in traffic operations.”
This is a gross misunderstanding of the intent of the law and its implementation. The 25-mph law needs to be a political and societal decision based on the safety needs of all road users and not a technical/engineering one based on outmoded priorities and dated expertise. It is absolutely insane that cities cannot determine the best speed limit in certain area. Thirty mph on narrow, one-way streets is too fast as it is on many residential and commercial areas. If imposition of the 25-mph limit is contingent on a traffic study, cities, such as Albany, will delay movement on 25 mph waiting for the study. They have no choice.
But It’s Worse – In spite of NYSDOT abysmal design-for-death practices, it is empowered to interfere in almost any aspect of establishing 25-mph limits. According to the following, the NYS Legislature has again ignored NYSDOT’s past and current road design debacles and has re-empowered it to squelch any but the most strident safety advocates or municipalities. With DOT’s grip on the purse strings and with its power to frustrate almost any road/street project. It seems to hold all the cards in what is really only a baby step toward equitable road design.
Learn More – Here are some links for those who are genuinely interested in roadway safety and who are fed up totally with the “all cars-all the time” philosophy that drivers urban “traffic planning:”
A utilitarian cyclist, Deborah Carpenter, who (apparently) was struck down by a motor vehicle while riding home from work. The crash was near 847 Loudon Rd, Colonie. She was left in the road alive but in a coma and in critical condition. Deborah faithfully rides her bicycle to and from work.
From DD: I live not that far from the Latham Traffic Circle and frequently have to deal with the potential hazards of that intersection. I experienced a minor incident a couple of years ago where I was heading North on Route 9. I entered the Circle when a car coming up from behind through the Circle on my left; decided to make a right onto Route 2 heading East. I was thereby forced to alter my course at the last second and turn to the right. I was side swiped by the car and was knocked to the ground. The car did stop and I was able to get up off the pavement before the passing of additional traffic. The driver apologized and asked if I was all right. Both the car and the bike had minor scratches and I experienced some minor cuts and bruises; but was basically all right. I saw no need to get the insurance companies involved. He asked again if I was all right before we continued on our ways. I am NOT a fan of traffic circles. I am cautious when dealing with traffic circles and depending on the time of day and volume of traffic will go out of my way to detour around them. [Emphasis added.] I sincerely hope for a speedy recovery for the injured cyclist.
From IV: I heard a newscast, but missed the TU article. Please let me know if I can donate to a fund for Deborah. RE the exam of the bike by police: sometimes if only the back tire is hit, no scratches, paint chips etc. are found, however the rear wheel is significantly out of line with the brakes out of line as well. (My back wheel after the crash impacting me was greatly distorted.) It is worth getting that thought to Colonie Police.
From JF: So awful to hear. Hope they get the information they need to move forward.