Category Archives: Article

ABC Response to Bethlehem Delaware Avenue Traffic Calming Project

November 30, 2017

We in the Albany Bicycle Coalition are pleased to learn of progress on the Delaware Avenue Traffic Calming project in Bethlehem and appreciate your efforts in presenting information on its evolution.

Speaking not only as cyclists, but also in consideration of all users of Delaware Ave. – pedestrians, motorists, and local businesses – we fully endorse a complete streets/road diet approach. We believe two motor vehicle lanes, a central turn lane, superior bicycle lanes, and appropriate and supportive signalization and signage is the only proper treatment for this road.

Our reservations are two fold and we hope that you and the town officials will find a way to address them in the final plan as follows.

#1 – Delaware Ave. and a Major Commuter Route – The Albany Bicycle Coalition has developed its interactive BikeAlbanyMap.com to lead people on bicycles safely from/to the I-90 bridge on Delaware Ave. in Albany. The Delaware Avenue Traffic Calming in Bethlehem will take them from/to the Normanskill from/to the town center. What remains is the connection over the Normanskill and I-90. We recommend that the final plan include provisions for Bethlehem and the City of Albany to coordinate on an appropriate treatment for this gap. While a complete redesign would be ideal, we believe that a stopgap measure would be low-cost signage and pavement markings that would include a 20-30 mph speed limit.

#2 – Connections with the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail – Since the new Delaware Avenue Traffic Calming project area and the rail trail are key features of the town, we encourage your including comprehensive two-way wayfinding signage to connect the two routes at appropriate points. When the South End Bikeway Link is finished, the rail trail will serve as a full-scale commuter route and recreational facility. Connection to Delaware Ave. can only enhance the value of these two projects.

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Filed under Activisim, Bethlehem Delaware Avenue Traffic Calming Project, City Review

Lighting the Way with Busch + Müller and Peter White Cycles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhining and Complaining – We all know how hard it is to see some people on bicycles from the rear at night or in gloomy weather unless they have adequate lighting. In fact, if one were to choose between a front light over a proper rear taillight, safety would suggest the latter.

Why then do not all non-racing/fast road/mountain bicycles have built-in lighting?

In the USA, most bicycles – regardless of style or brand – require searching out both a tail and headlight or switching these from other bicycles. These lights depend on a variety of mounting techniques, not all of which are good or are not good in certain applications. In the case of headlights, each mounting or re-mounting then requires adjustment to ensure that it is aimed for best effect in terms of both visibility to oncoming traffic and in lighting the roadway.

Since dynamos are typically also not found on bicycles sold in the USA (at least since the UK dropped its line of upright bicycles with “Dynohubs”), we are all stuck in large part with replacing or recharging all those batteries on a regular basis. Even with a retrofitted/add-on generator, the difficulty or impossibility of having internal wiring and an integrated off/on switch means that the install will also be less that aesthetically pleasing.

The Issue – If one wants to fit her bicycle with lights that (1) are always there and (2) won’t disappear while having that croissant and coffee, the only recourse seems to be to modify an existing, off-the-shelf light(s). Here is a Planet Bike light fitted with a semi-theft proof bolt to mount on a Tubus Logo Evo rear rack.

One Solution – After a little Googling around for a more professional option for the Tubus Logo Evo rack, up pops Peter White Cycles. This small New Hampshire firm specializes in dynamo lighting but also offers battery powered lights for those who do not want to have a wheel rebuilt with a dynamo hub. “Bicycle Quarterly” has featured Peter White Cycles but with an emphasis on their hub generators.

Success – Sure enough, Peter White offers two Busch + Müller bolt-on, battery-powered rear lights with 50 mm spacing to exactly fit the Tubus Logo Evo’s pre-drilled holes – the Toplight Line. B&M Tail LIght for Tubus 10-30-17 (4)These lights conform to Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) bicycle regulations. Founded in 1925, Busch + Müller is in Meinerzhagen (population of 20,000 and about 71 km west-northwest of Cologne).

 

This light comes in two formats as follows:

  • Toplight Line Permanent – spreads light from two LEDs across the width of the taillight and uses a single AA battery. It has a simple “On/Off” switch ($ 40.00).
  • Toplight Line Senso – which is the same as the “Permanent” but with a three position “On/Off/Senso” switch. “Senso” activates light and motion sensors. When the bike is moving and it is dark, the light is automatically switched “On.” When you stop, the light stays on for a few minutes. As long as you do not move again, it switches off and stays “off” ($ 46.00).

Features – For the extra $6+ shipping, let us see what the Senso offers.Frist, Peter White Cycles makes buying a pleasure. They do not accept internet orders – it is all by telephone with a knowledgeable and pleasant human. (One can use email and checks, but why not enjoy the human interaction?)

The B+M light comes with (almost – see below) everything you need: the light, a single AA battery, mounting nuts and lock washers, a locking machine screw for the battery compartment, and a T-2 wrench* for this screw. Oh – and there are instructions of sorts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The key difference with the Senso (over the “Permanent”) is the special mode that (1) comes on when the light detects motion, (2) stays on if he light detects darkness, or (3) goes “off” after 4 minutes if there is (a) no motion or (b) no darkness. Presumably, one could leave this light in the Senso mode all the time, thereby ensuring that the light will always be on when the bicycle is moving and it is dark. (ED: Not tested yet.)

The Battery Lock – The instruction state that the aforementioned machine screw can be used for “Theft protected locking of the battery compartment.” Since it’s difficult to imagine thieves prowling about stealing batteries from bicycle lights, the better use for this feature is to install the screw (with the provided T-20 wrench) to keep the battery compartment securely closed. Since this compartment is on the bottom of the light and if one were not to secure properly the clip-in compartment cover, it is feasible that the cover would be lost – followed soon enough by the battery. The minor downside is the need to carry a T-20 wrench – which is also needed for the Tubus Logo Evo mounting screws so it is already in the tool kit.

Installation – Since the Toplight Line is made to fit the 50 mm spread of the predrilled holes in the Tubus Logo Evo rack, installation is simple. A little “Threadlocker,” and it is on. HOWEVER and surprisingly, the provided M-5 standard hex nuts are unsightly. A trip to the land of the orange aprons was required to get proper cap nuts ($0.72) – see photo for comparison.

Does It Blink? – Nope. In Germany, the road traffic regulations, Straßenverkehrszulassungsordnung (StVZO), dictate bicycle requirements. Every bicycle on public ways, for both children and grownups, is supposed to follow these rules. Most bicycles have required accessories already in place including proper lights. (You can buy a bicycle without everything, and some people ride bikes that do not conform, but in the event of an accident, the rider is likely at least partly responsible.)

Lighting requirements are a white headlight and a red rear light ready for use at any time. A single switch must control both the headlight and rear light. The lights must be able to be powered by a dynamo backup, though they can use batteries in addition (as a stand light for example). At the most, one may add a single additional battery powered rear light. More battery-powered lamps are not permitted, including blinking ones or ones on the helmet or body.

If you are committed to a rear blinky but want the carefree luxury of a B&M Toplight Line, stick a back-up blinker on there somewhere (but do not ride in Germany).


*Torx, developed in 1967 by Camcar Textron, is the trademark for a screw head with a 6-point star-shaped pattern. Popular generic name for the drive is “star,” as in “star screwdriver” or “star bits.” The official International Organization for Standardization (ISO) name is “10664,” “hexalobular internal.”

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Filed under Bike Tech, Product Review

Toward Better Connections in Troy

An enthusiastic audience came to the interesting Tech Valley Center of Gravity facility to learn all about the big plans to build new bicycle routes and to connect up those that already exist.

The City of Troy, the Capital District Transportation Committee, and Parks & Trails NY held a public meeting on 11/8/17 to give an overview of the “Troy Trail Connections Plan.”  Mayor Madden opened the meeting with a statement of commitment by the city to move forward as rapidly as possible to make Troy a bike-able city.  The project director from CDTC wisely provided a brief overview of the nature of her organization and its mission in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties – something that is a mystery to many.   We then got down to business with a presentation by the Executive Director and Project Leader from PTNY.

To comment on the plan, go to – http://troytrailconnections.weebly.com/draft-plan.html

Those who were on this Fall’s Collar City Ramble will recall the “pop up” bicycle facilities planned and installed by PTNY and the city.  (We should also recall he Mayor and Mrs. Madden road the Ramble – a good example for other local officials.)

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Engaged!

 

 

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Presenting the BIG Plan

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Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, City Review, Transport Troy

Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Tips from the Times Union

The summer “road diet” project for Van Rensselaer Blvd. is complete. The $1 million project re-striped the former four-lane corridor between Northern Blvd. and Menand Rd. (Rt. 378) into one motor vehicle lane in each direction with a center turn lane. The shoulders are widened to include six-foot bicycle lanes on each side and seven-foot shoulders. The speed limit is now 45 mph (down from 55 mph posted).

Affected area, 1.5 miles – https://www.google.com/maps/dir/42.6772786,-73.7436492/42.6983906,-73.7388047/@42.6866889,-73.7459224,15.37z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e1

For background and in-process photos, see – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2017/07/08/89398/ .

As noted there, those who use the BikeAlbanyMap to get around the City of Albany and Parks & Trails New York Erie Canalway Trail map to travel along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail will note that one can ride the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail from Rotterdam Junction (with a few on-street portions in Schenectady, Cohoes, and Watervaliet), leave the MHBHT at the (hidden and bumpy) Schuyler Flats Trail near Passano Paints and the I-787 underpass at Broadway and 4th Sts. to Schuyler flats, go a short “traffic calmed” half mile south on Broadway, crawl up the hill through Albany Rural Cemetery, join the above described new bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer/Rt. 377, enjoy the “calmed” Northern Blvd. to McCrossin and Thornton Sts. at the old Livingston Middle School, and then wind through a quiet residential neighborhood to the bicycle lanes on Clinton Ave. It’s almost a network!

Delaware Ave. Traffic Calming – In other news on 10/16/17, the Times Union recommended adoption of Bethlehem’s “Delaware Avenue diet.” See http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Editorials-Long-story-short-12278566.php . This proposal – to go from four lanes to three makes room for bicycle lanes as well as improving safety FOR ALL along the busy road with a minimal impact on automobile traffic. This project is modeled after the Madison Avenue Traffic Calming project now moving rapidly to completion.

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Editorial Note – While one cannot be anything but pleased at this Van Rensselaer Blvd. project, it does exploit bicycle facilities as a way to calm motor vehicle traffic – not a bad thing, but, in this case, the end at Menand/Osborne Rd. (Rt. 378) leaves something to be desired. For people on bicycles who NEED bicycle lanes, Menand/Osborne Rd. would not be a travel choice they would make. As noted, one can use the Albany Rural Cemetery Rd. to get to Broadway and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Further, the redesign of Van Rensselaer Blvd. still leaves it looking like a high-speed road much as I-787 looks entering/leaving Cohoes, much of Central Ave., and Washington Ave. (where the posted speed limits have been reduced on a road that looks and feels like a higher speed is appropriate).

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Filed under Bike Lanes, City Review

Bicycles in the Main “Stream”

The September 2017 city water bill mailed to metered customers includes a flyer from the City of Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee. The flyer promotes bicycle safety and targets people in cars. The flyer refers to the Albany Bicycle Master Plan but a more helpful link is to the Albany Bicycle Coalition’s BikeAlbanyMap .

In any case, bicycle awareness seems to be creeping into the main “stream.”

H2O Bill Sep 2017 Pg 1

H2O Bill Sep 2017 Pg 2

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Filed under City Review, Support the Cause