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How the Grinch Stole [Christmas] Safety

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Safety

[Choir of pedestrians and bicyclists]

“I’m dreaming of a safe Christmas just like the ones I used to . . . (gulp) . . .  (gasp)  . . . YIKES!“

[Grinch]

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Hey, you bicyclists cut the din,

Can’t you see the mood I’m in?

Bicycles, bicycles everywhere.

Riding around without a care.

I’ll tell you right off the bat,

We’ll soon put a stop to that!

No delay for cars is what I say,

So get your two wheels out of the way.

E-bikes what a curse,

If I see one more. I’ll need a nurse!

Complain, complain – Oh my head

So what if a few of you are dead?

If it’s too unsafe for you to ride,

Then just go over to the side and hide

Oh, you’re such an infernal pain

But I’ll throw in one more shared lane.

Buffered Lanes? Not so fast,

How will cars zip past?

Traffic circles they’re all the rage,

As you ride through, you’ll certainly age.

Traffic circles and (Glenmont) roundabouts, they’re the best

Try to ride through them – be my guest.

We design ‘em, you can bet,

I haven’t seen one that’s bikeable yet.

Four-lane highways they’re the pip

Too bad if you get hit.

No bike lanes? That’s tough,

Good old sharrows are more than enough.

Buffered lanes now that’s a riot,

Don’t hold your breath until I try it.

Complete streets that’s my scam

I’ll “consider your needs” and then I’ll scram!

Vision zero that’s a joke,

Don’t you realize we’re broke?

Broke that is until a new car way

Causes our minds to sway!

I’ve got my engineering manuals at hand

And they don’t cover your rowdy band.

Gotta problem with Central Ave.?

Why that’s the safest road we have!

About livable streets you’re free to dream,

But rest assured that’s not my scheme. 

A ped-bike master plan will calm your fears,

Don’t get excited – it’s smoke and mirrors.

On our plan from two thousand nine

We’re been doing just fine.

Added bike lanes for five miles

Doesn’t that bring you smiles?

Bicycle planning, we do a lot

But our action is mostly “not.”

Many plans on the shelf

Guarded by my elf.

Eco freaks with hearts of Fire?

Well guess what, I’m a denier.

Dying from pollution?

Bicycles are not my solution.

SUVs now that’s my Style,

I think I’ll go out and cruise a while.

Miles per gallon – not my issue,

If you don’t agree, here’s a tissue.

Move all those cars, that’s the need,

We let them go at any speed.

Lower the speed limit 

Sure… in just a minute.

Bike Lanes with no buffer?

Well that’s too bad – you’ll have to suffer

You got doored

Oh so sorry, but I’m just floored. 

Bike lane symbols faded away?
We’ll re-do them . . .  someday.

Can’t safely ride to work?

Well take the bus – what a jerk.

Hit a cyclist they’ll throw the book

Say you didn’t and you’re off the hook.

New Scotland Ave now that’s for parking 

St. Peter’s got the key so hearken.

Safe passing distance I’ll fight that one

Fight so hard it’ll never get done.

Buffered lanes, now that’s a riot

Don’t hold your breath until I try it.

Are cycle tracks what you want to see?

That’s a good laugh for my friends at dee oh tee. 

Reduce the speed,

What’s the need?

Car lane, parking lane, turn lane, more

But for cyclist anything at all is all chore.

You pay your taxes, and we’re glad 

But how we spend them will make you mad.

Roads, streets, turns galore

All I say is more, more, more.

Got hit by a car, slammed by a door

Well that’s too bad – I hope you’re sore. 

Albany, Schenectady, Guilderland too,

Sorry but we don’t have time for you. 

Colonie, Troy, Bethlehem are a riot,

Plenty of cars and trucks but no road diet.

But that’s too bad if you want peace,

Our disdain for you will never cease

I hope this tale doesn’t make you sad

But after all, it’s not that bad. 

Want to cycle safely on a trip?

Well go to Holland on a ship.

Separated Lanes they’re the best

But not in my plan like all the rest.

We can’t cater to just a hobby

We have to kowtow to the car Lobby.

Traffic’s dangerous, that’s a shame

There’s plenty of us to share the blame.

Hey, you guys are really nuts,

Get outta here before I kick your butts.

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To end on a brighter note of what COULD BE, please go here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzyIFqXps_A

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Filed under Editorial, Riding in Albany, safety

Albany Bicycle Coalition 2021 and Our Goals for 2022

Dear Friends of Albany Bicycle Coalition,

We hope this finds you well and able to be out on your bike. We wanted to give you a quick update on what our activities have been during 2021 and ask for your support to assist us in 2022.

After having to cancel our rides in 2020, this year we bounced back to again sponsor a number of rides and in 2022, we aim to bring back our popular Earth Day ride! This year we were able to gather for our annual Ride of Silence, where we remember and honor cyclists who were killed or injured in collisions with motorists. In August, we instituted the first of our “Slow Roll” rides, through the Arbor Hill/West Hill neighborhoods of Albany. Starting at the Stephen and Harriet Meyers Residence/Underground Railroad House, the ride explored the neighborhood at a leisurely pace, highlighting historic places, the Tivoli Lake Preserve, and the Arbor Hill branch of the Albany Public Library. We then enjoyed ice cream sundaes in the beautiful, shady backyard of the Meyers Residence.

Our second “Slow Roll” was a “Bike the Branches” ride where we explored select branches of the Albany Public Library. We hope to make these “Slow Roll” rides regular events. We will explore different neighborhoods in the City of Albany in a leisurely manner that emphasizes the life of the neighborhood rather than the motor traffic infrastructure. They will be community oriented and open to all levels of riders with families welcome.  

We also brought back our popular Albany-Troy Daily Grind ride and capped our riding season with another popular Halloween ride through the Albany Rural Cemetery. Future rides we hope to sponsor in 2022 include a demonstration ride on New Scotland Avenue, a ride focusing on area churches that is part of the annual Hudson Valley Ramble, and a Patroon Creek-Hudson River ride which is a continuation of ABC’s efforts to make the proposed Patroon Greenway Trail a reality.

ABC also continues to take a broader approach to bicycling across the Capital Region by networking with other local bicycle groups to implement a region-wide bicycle infrastructure. As part of this endeavor, we are excited to propose a series of intercity rides in 2022. These will be a series of rides involving ABC, Cycle Schenectady, Transport Troy, and Bikeatoga. This will be one of the biggest projects that ABC has ever undertaken and will require coordination with the other bike groups, non-cycling not-for-profits, as well as private sponsors for each ride.

In addition to sponsoring rides, ABC continues to monitor existing bike infrastructure in the region and make sure it remains safe and useful for bicyclists. This includes the South End Connector, the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail (MHBHT), and the Empire State Trail. In fact, our treasurer, David Pisaneschi, practically single-handedly, through years of dogged perseverance, finally got the State DOT to repave unrideable parts of the MHBHT, making for a smooth ride over miles of formerly root damaged trail.

In addition to this work, we’ve also kept a focus on developments on Rapp Road, and Albany’s 2021 Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan. We have greatly expanded our renamed CapitalNYBikeMap to include many more routes in Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties, thus encompassing the entire Capital Region. By attending public meetings, meeting with and communicating with local elected and appointed officials, and keeping abreast of transportation issues, we will continue to advocate for safe streets for all users and safe trails for bicyclists and pedestrians. As evidenced by the recent defeat of the proposed Delaware Ave. Complete Streets project in the Town of Bethlehem, organizations like ABC are needed more than ever.

In order to continue this important work, we are asking for your support by contributing what you can at this moment. A voting membership is $25, but any amount is appreciated. As a reminder, ABC is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, and all donations are tax-deductible. This year we are excited to introduce new levels of membership: $Free: Basic Member, $25: Voting Member, $100: Century Member, and $250: Long Haul Member.

To assist organizations, such as ABC, in 2020 Congress passed the CARES Act. A provision of that Act allows individuals, who do not itemize their tax deductions, an above-the-line credit up to $300 for charitable contributions. This was extended into 2021 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Consolidated Act also expanded the deduction to $600 for married couples who do not itemize their tax deductions and file jointly.

You can donate through our https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/about/donate/ website via PayPal or send a check to Albany Bicycle Coalition, Inc., ATTN: Treasurer, 180 South Main Ave., Albany, NY 12208. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can reach us at albanybicyclecoalition@yahoo.com.

We greatly appreciate any support you can provide and hope to see you soon on a trail and/or street. In the meantime, safe riding.

From your fellow riders at the Albany Bicycle Coalition.

Ed Brennan

President, Albany Bicycle Coalition

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The Leaves are Falling (and a Little Snow Too)

Get Out and Ride While the Leaves are Falling

While COVID-19 has limited some bicycle-related activities, the fine fall weather provides plenty of opportunities for socially distanced rides. Looking ahead, there is some nice riding in fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to encourage your riding and to keep you safe:

  • Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid those hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.
  • Add a helmet or head-mounted lamp to help see those potholes, debris, etc. at night. While a front light in blink mode makes people more aware of your presence, the headlamp helps you see obstacles. The advantage of a headlamp is that when you move your head, the light goes with you. When on trails with little or no street lighting, both the headlamp and front light (in steady mode) will light the path.
  • Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
  • Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on.” Ensure that your gear or clothing does not block the light beams (front and rear) and that the rear light(s) aim toward following vehicles.
  • Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  • Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  • Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  • Maybe shop for and use a helmet mounted rear-facing light.
  • Be fair to people in cars – let them see you. Driving can be challenging at this time of year. Don’t join the “ghost bike” program.
  • You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.
  • As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it is dark in color, either choose something that is not or pick up a reflective vest from your locally owned hardware or big box home center for around $20.00. You might add this vest to your year-around “kit.”
  • Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  • Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes, ruts, utility caps, and craters in the paved surface. City streets are worse than ever so watch for crevices, bumps, patches, and so on. Good front lighting will help here!
  • Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.

  • Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  • You might want to inspect your tires for wear. You might swap the front to the rear (since the rear takes the most weight and wears quicker). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them).
  •  Consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  • Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will finishing or starting a ride in low light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  • When riding into that low fall sun, remember that the people in cars behind may not see you, as they also will be blinded.
  • Plan your braking and turns to avoid a spill.
  • Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  • Fall and winter is a good time to get ready for next year’s riding with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/

Other winter riding tips –

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

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

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Arbor Hill-West Hill Slow Roll Ride

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence – Underground Railroad House
Getting Ready to Ride

On the picture perfect Sunday afternoon, August 15, the Underground Railroad Education Center and the Albany Bicycle Coalition jointly conducted an Arbor Hill/West Hill “Slow Roll” bicycle ride (see stats at end of this post). The fun, safe, low-stress, low-speed bicycle ride took advantage of numerous bicycle lanes, trails, and low congestion streets in the neighborhood. The group stopped at several points where speakers led discussions on the history and future of the neighborhoods. Stops included the Harriet and Stephen Myers Residence, Arbor Hill Park, Tivoli Lake Preserve, Bleeker Stadium/Swinburne Park, and the Arbor Hill Library. The Tivoli Preserve stop highlighted the 9-mile Patroon Creek Greenway Trail currently undergoing study by the City of Albany (see http://albanyny.gov/800/Patroon-Greenway-Feasibility-Study). The new Greenway Trail would connect the Albany Waterfront to the Six Mile Waterworks and points beyond with access from Arbor Hill and West Hill. We also discussed the daylighting of the Patroon Creek and making nearby mountain bike trails more accessible to Tivoli Preserve and its adjoining neighborhoods.

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence

Paul of the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence at the Start

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Assembling the Ride

Arbor Hill Park -1

Our Arbor Park Stop pointed out the nearby site of the original Dudley Observatory. We also noted 1962 Urban Renewal Plans for the area that would have put a school where the historic Harriet and Stephen Myers Residence still stands. The 1964 plans are more representative of the current configuration.

Arbor Hill Park Was Once Site of the Dudley Observatory and Park
Proposed School (See #4) on Site of Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence
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A little history lesson . . .

Arbor Hill Park – 2
Tivoli Lake Preserve – 1
Tivoli Lake Preserve – 2
Rider in the Preserve
Patroon Greenway Project
Surprise! Street Fair
What Albany’s Library Does for You
Ride End at the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence Underground Railroad

RIDE STATS – The ride covered 4.37 miles “door-to-door” and started at 1:15 and ended at 2:45 (1 hour 30 min) with 44 min of actual riding with an average speed of 5.7 mph. The ride thus met its goal of being a “slow roll” that riders of all abilities could enjoy.

What a Reward! – Ice Cream Sundaes on a Hot Day

We ended the ride with an “ice cream social” in the shady back yard of the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition will be conducting a “Bike the Branches Slow Roll” in conjunction with the Albany Public Libraries on September 25.

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Filed under City Review, Rides

Ride of Silence 2021

On May 19, 2021, seventeen riders commemorated the annual Ride of Silence to honor those injured or killed while riding their bicycles. Following the international standard of the third Wednesday in May, riders toured the four ghost bike sites within the city of Albany. The list of four riders we honored appears below in the order visited.

The Ride – The Albany Bicycle Coalition has planned and hosted this ride since 2008 – with the exception of 2020. After consultation with the Albany County Department of Health and other sources, we redesigned the ride to conform to COVID-19 safety standards and to ensure that riders enjoyed safe routes. This year’s changes included the following:

  • To facilitate COVID-19 safety, we required pre-ride registration and set out specific procedural steps (e.g., masks, social distance).
  • We developed a new route so that, with the cohort monitors, even traffic-adverse riders could join without hesitation.
  • Non-riding ABC staff displayed 2X3 foot posters at each ghost bike site showing the first name, date of death, and a bicycle symbol.
  • We posted a small weather-resistant sign at each site as in past years.
  • The ride was split into cohorts with a maximum of 10 riders each accompanied by a skilled ride leader and a “sweep” to assist any riders who fell out of the ride.
  • Rather than stopping at each of the four sites as in past years, we merely rode slowly by.
  • The ride was 13.9 miles long with 650 feet elevation gain.
  • We offered two starting locations so riders who chose to do so could avoid climbing the hill from the Hudson River level.
  • As in years past, each rider received a flyer listing all the local ghost bike cases with a factual summary.

Ghost Bike Summary – About one-half those listed on our handout were the fault of people in cars (54% -Cummings, Agne, Ratalle, Merges, Melnikoff, Zayhowski, and Ryan) vs. rider or both driver/rider (15% – De Loyaza, Richichi), and unknown (31%). In 10 out of the 31 bicycle fatalities listed by the Albany Bicycle Coalition, drugs, and alcohol use by the motor vehicle operator was a contributing cause.

Ghost bikes in the City of Albany remained undisturbed until early 4/2014 when the Department of General Services removed them.

Jose Perez – August 3, 2006 (age 60) Bicyclist killed by SUV, Broadway at Quay St., Albany. Perez, who was dealing with liver problems, did not own a car, and used is bicycle to get around, often taking rides at the Corning Preserve bike path along the Hudson River. Dusk was falling at about 8:30 PM when Jose 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. Some few days after the installation of Jose’s ghost bike, his sister left this note attached to it: “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 via cell phone _____ My name is Nivia. Thank you” Jose’s ghost bike was the first of many installed in the City of Albany. The city removed all the ghost bikes in 2016.

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Diva De Loayza – June 6, 2007 (age 40) Bicyclist killed by car, Western Ave. at Homestead Ave., Albany. A motor vehicle operator made a left turn into University Place from east-bound Western Ave. and struck and killed Diva who was riding her bicycle west in the University Place crosswalk. Diva operated the “Some Girls” boutiques in Troy and Utica. For many years, store employees came to the ghost bike site during the ride. They also decorated her bicycle for Christmas, etc.

Paul J. Merges, Jr. – November 24, 2012 (age 45) Bicyclist killed by drunk driver, Manning Blvd. & Roosevelt St., Albany. Paul was returning home after visiting his daughters. The driver, Pablo Cruz, a drunken driver, ran Merges down on 11/24/12 in a gruesome 51-mph collision. A sheriff’s deputy was pursuing Cruz at high speeds through city residential streets at the time. Cruz, 39, had been released from prison on a drug charge less than four weeks before the crash. Cruz was accused of then driving 12 miles with Merges’s body pinned to the roof rack of his truck. He was caught in Rotterdam after his truck engine failed. Cruz received 25 Years to Life for second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, and felony leaving the scene of an accident, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving. He said at sentencing, “Nah, I’ve got nothing to say.”

Edston J. Kirnon – July 22, 2017 (age 42) Bicyclist collided with side of CDTA bus, N. Pearl St., Albany The fatality at Pearl and Wilson was not the fault of the bus driver. All the available data, plus an assessment of the location, indicate that the cyclist did not have control of his bicycle going down a steep hill, and ran the stop sign. The bus driver was so distraught she could not continue driving.

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