Category Archives: Activism

Deborah Carpenter – Hit and Run 9/1/21

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.

Photo courtesy of the Times Union

From the report, it is hard to conceive that this was a bicycle-only event. Details hopefully to follow from police. Read on – https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Police-ask-for-witnesses-in-bike-crash-16444059.php

Several cyclists wrote in with these comments:

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.

Photo courtesy of the Times Union

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.

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Filed under Colonie, Ghost Bikes, Ride to Work, safety, utilitarian cyclists

John Lynch Killed in Crash – 7/20/21

UPDATE 9-21-21: John Host Lynch Memorial Gathering – Sat, 9/25, 2:30 PM – Join us at the Albany Barn, 56 Second St., Albany, on September 25 at 2:30 pm to celebrate the life of John Lynch. We encourage you to share stories and memories after a brief ceremony. Friends and family welcome. Questions? – Layla, (845) 616-0626 or the Facebook.

John, a local bicycle and bike rescue luminary and Honest Weight Food Co-op worker, was killed in a car crash in Kingston on 7/20/21. See below. Obituary – John Lynch Obituary (1964 – 2021) – Kingston, NY – Daily Freeman (legacy.com)

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John Lynch – 7/20/21 – John was active in the Capital Region bicycle scene and was heavily involved in Troy Bike Rescue as a volunteer and board member. He always had a happy word or smile to share. The fatal crash occurred on Washington Ave. in Kingston. Bike-Friendly Kingston held a memorial ride for John on 7/23/21. One of the comments at Bike-Friendly Kingston, NY | Facebook was “I want to share my appreciation to everyone who attended this event and helped make it happen. As one of the riders who was with John when this accident occurred, seeing such strong community support has been really helpful to my healing. To those who knew John, I want you to know that his last hours seemed filled with a lot of joy. The big smile that was on his face for much of his last ride will always be with me.”

John was active in Kingston as a bike tech at the YMCA’s “Lend a Wheel” Program – see – PHOTOS: Lend a Wheel – Daily Freeman This program offers bicycle repair clinics, loans, and giveaways.

“We also lost a longtime staff person, John Lynch, to a bicycle accident (sic.) in July. John was a bicycle safety advocate and social justice advocate, among all the other things that were commendable about his character. No obituary is available for John at this time. Our hearts and condolences go out to all those who knew and loved John.” (From Honest Weight Food Co-op’s “Honest Slate” Newsletter, 8/21 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ubh69he1lqsgo76/2021%20August%20Slate%20FINAL.pdf?dl=0 )

From Troy Bike Rescue …

Photos courtesy Carrie Will and Kingston YMCA
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Lynch Ghost Bike

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Filed under Death on the Road, Ghost Bikes

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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Changes to South End Connector – City of Albany

Following substantial completion of the South End Connector, the Albany Bicycle Coalition detected a number of issues needing resolution. We had identified some of these even before design and construction began on the Connector. On 9/17/20, we asked the city to explore how we might get these projects on the city’s “to do” list for 2020-21.

Key members of the Albany Bicycle Coalition have had some considerable experience with the new South End Connector and many years of observation and riding in the S. Pearl St./Connector area. We believe the city should make several modifications to realize the full potential of this new asset. We detail these below. They include maintenance, safety issues, signage/lighting/striping, a new interchange, and traffic control.

Our major concerns are safety issues related to the Broadway/Quay St. and the S. Pearl St.-South End Connector junction. The Broadway/Quay St. issue derives from the original “all cars-all the time” poor design of this interchange. In fact, it was here that a SUV ran down and killed 60-year-old cyclist Jose Perez on August 3, 2006.

One of the major impetuses for the very conception of the South End Connector was the motor vehicle death of a young lad on S. Pearl St.

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Multiuse Path Maintenance – the City of Albany Department of General Services was quite responsive to our recent (September) 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 possibly 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 going north (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.

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. The striped area could be modified easily for this purpose with only the addition of some striping (e.g., a green path) and 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 struck and killed cyclist Jose Perez.

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 traffic control is a yield sign. This sign is ineffective since it is clear to a driver that there to 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.

What is not so clear is that the South End Connector channels people on bicycles directly to a cross walk which is somewhat hidden from people in cars. While riders are scanning to their left and rear, they also have to be alert to motor vehicles coming north on Broadway to continue on Quay St. or Broadway into the city proper. Here we need more demonstrative traffic control.

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William Drake – Struck and Killed

Drake GB Sign

The bicycle community was again saddened by the death of another young cyclist struck and killed by two motor vehicles. See Channel 10 Report. The report is not clear on how the crash occurred but states, “no tickets or charges have been filed” and “New York State Police are investigating …” while … “the investigation remains ongoing.“  See also The Leader Hearld.

William “Billy” Drake lived in Mayfield on Sacandaga Lake 50 miles NW of Albany. See also obituary.

On 8/7/20, cyclist Mike installed William’s ghost bike and made these observations: “I installed the Ghost Bike for Billy Drake today. It is on NYS Rt. 30 North of Dennie Loop Rd. The site shows that the road shoulder is 8 ft. wide, and totally clear of any reason to veer into the roadway [Ed: as alleged by the motor vehicle operator]. I noticed some auto trim plastic near the tree I selected to secure the bike to, so I suspect this may have been from the accident but can’t be sure.”

In closing, he stated, “Installing a Ghost Bike is a gripping experience.” Having had this experience on too many occasions, this is truly an apt observation.

Drake GB

If one looks at Rt. 30 for the full stretch by Dennie Loop Rd. (see Google Map), the road is absolutely straight and clear with but four driveways on the opposite side from the crash site and no visible obstructions. The shoulders on Rt. 30 are 8 ft. wide.

The Crash Scene – The first image is of State Rt. 30 looking north. Billy was traveling South (toward you) on this shoulder. The crash was in this approximate location. (The tire marks on the pavement are near the scene, but not related to it.) This shows that the shoulder is very wide and very clean.

Drake Crash Scene A-7-4-20

This does not explain why Billy would have turned into traffic as alleged. The shoulder left of the cables was relatively clean with no glass, just a small amount of trash, and some plastics auto trim pieces (that might have been related).

The second image is from across the road with the new ghost bike just visible in the left center.

Drake Crash Scene B-7-4-20Gloversville’s  The Leader Hearld provided the following report (lightly edited): Two people in one of the vehicles involved in a July 4 bicyclist crash that killed a 16-year-old Mayfield resident have been arrested for allegedly false information on the fatal accident. Benjamin Govel, 27, of Clifton Park was charged by State Police on Thursday with making a false written statement, a misdemeanor, and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, also a misdemeanor. Also charged was Breanna J. Ferrara, 27, of Halfmoon with first-degree falsifying business records, a felony.

The two were charged after police discovered they had allegedly provided false information on the fatal accident that led to the death of William Drake. The pair had allegedly lied about who was driving the second vehicle that had hit Drake.

The 16-year-old bicyclist had been traveling on the southbound shoulder of Rt. 30, facing east and began to enter the roadway when the first vehicle driven by 23-year-old Julie Tineo, of Amsterdam, swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid hitting him. The front passenger side of the vehicle hit the front tire of the bike, spinning Drake and sending him further into the southbound lane.

It was originally reported that the second vehicle driven by Ferrara was unable to stop or avoid the bike, striking Drake in the roadway. Drake was taken to Nathan Littauer Hospital where he died.

However police determined that Ferrara was the passenger of the second vehicle and Govel was the actual  driver. Police issued Govel and Ferrara appearance tickets, and they are scheduled to appear in Mayfield Town Court on Aug. 11, 3 p.m.

The Context – For a run down on area fatalities of people on bicycles, go to “Roads Remain Unsafe for People on Bicycles.”  If this report does not convince you of the subject line’s veracity, well …

Ride of Silence – COVID-19 forced postponement of Albany Bicycle Coalition’s 13th Annual Ride of Silence to commemorate the injury and death of people on bicycles.

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