Category Archives: Bike Lanes

Traffic Calming on Western Ave. – Make It Happen

The following letter to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan calls for Traffic Calming on Western Ave.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition proposes the logical extension of the Madison Ave. bicycle lanes from their terminus at S. Allen and Madison Ave./Western Ave. to the city line. There they will join the Town of Guilderland’s long established bicycle lanes at the city line/University at Albany. These combined lanes would provide just over 4 miles of safe cycling for riding to work, school, errands, and health care. It would afford an option for those wishing to avoid COVID-19-risk buses or environmentally damaging petrovehicles. It would also provide safe, affordable commuting for those who do not have access to a motor vehicle.

Your support can make the happen:

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Plenty of Room from Here to the City Line – Build It!

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The Wide Open Western Horizon

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July 30, 2020

RE: It’s Time for Western Ave. Traffic Calming

The Honorable Kathy M. Sheehan

Office of the Mayor

City Hall, Rm. 10224 Eagle St.
Albany, NY 12207

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

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

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

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

It is time to connect these Madison and Western Ave. projects into a seamless, calmed commuter and recreational route. Western Ave. from UA to Madison has two schools with posted 20 mph zones and many business and residences with exiting and entering traffic. The too-wide double lanes encourage speeding and crazy lane changes threatening everyone’s safety. This is an ideal street for Traffic Calming. This wide street section with essentially no parking has ample room for buffered bicycle lanes without impeding the smooth flow of motor vehicle traffic.

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

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

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

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

Sincerely yours,

Albany Bicycle Coalition, Inc.

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Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, Support the Cause, Western Ave.

Northern Blvd. Bicycle Lane Network

[UPDATED 7-1-20]

There are  0.2 miles of new bicycle lanes on Northern Blvd.-Manning Blvd. running from Pennsylvania Ave./McCrossin St. to Lark Dr.  This expands the Northern Blvd. /Memorial Hospital area bicycle lane network to a total of 1.4 miles. The network connects to the Village of Menands/Department of Transportation 1.5 miles of bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. (See more background and photos here: Bicycle Lanes in the City of Albany.)

This brings the City of Albany total installed bicycle lanes to 4.9 milesThe 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). While not a 1:1 comparison, this 4.9 miles of bicycle lanes is 12 percent of this total.

With anticipated completion of the South End Bikeway Connector (about 1.5 miles of cycle track/bicycle lane plus a side path), the total will be 6.3 miles or 16 percent of the 2009 total.

New bicycle lanes – looking southeast from Northern Blvd. toward Manning Blvd. The bridge crosses the I-90/I-787 entrance/exit ramps.

Looking SE on Northern-Manning at Rt9 Overpass 6-18-20

A view in the same direction with Northern Blvd. petrovehicle traffic entering from the left and Pennsylvania Ave. on the right (taken from McCrossin Ave.).

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Looking back up Manning Blvd. toward Northern Blvd. from Lark Drive. The Albany Fire Department Arbor Hill Station is to the right. Note buffered bicycle lane.

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There’s still a challenging “shared lane” area on the Rt. 9 overpass – high speeds, no rideable shoulders, entrance/exit ramps to/from Northern Blvd. to Rt. 9.  The proper use of a Shared Lane is to connect “real” bicycle facilities. According to National Association of City Transportation Officials (https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bikeway-signing-marking/shared-lane-markings/ ) Shared Lane Markings (SLMs), or “sharrows,” are road markings used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles. 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 bike lanes, cycle tracks, or other separation treatments where these types of facilities are otherwise warranted or space permits.

In the instant case, the SL do connect two of bike lane segments. It’s still a squeeze unless the rider ‘takes the lane.”

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Bicycle Lanes Gone Bad

Here is what happens when people who never walk and never ride set out to design bicycle lanes.

One would think the first photo one has something to do with a pedestrian crosswalk, but no ….

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 The second photo shows (1) that the bicycle lanes are ON THE SIDEWALK, (2) that there are people walking on the sidewalk, and (3) that, later on, the city of Annapolis put its BikeShare “hub” in the sidewalk area and on its misguided bicycle lane.

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 This scene is from Annapolis MD – a flat, bike-able, and walkable city but one that is totally tuned to an “all cars-all the time” philosophy.

 

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Burlington’s Bike Boxes are Beautiful

It’s always great to visit Burlington to see the latest efforts by the city government to make the city more livable for it citizens and more rideable for people on bicycles.

The latest addition is a Bike Box on a major east-west thoroughfare, Pearl St., at its intersection with Union St.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Update 10-10-19 ~ The City of Albany has four bike boxes – three at Shaker Rd/Northern Blvd. (see “Bicycle Lanes in the City of Albany”) and one at Madison Ave./Lark St. None has colored pavement as a background color.

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If you are unfamiliar with “bike boxes,” view How to use a Bike Box” by Streetfilms.

Or, read the instructions.

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The basic concept is pretty clear – if you are on your bicycle, traveling in the bicycle lane, and need to turn left (in this case, east bound off Pearl St. onto northbound Union St.), the petrovehicles are stopped before the green box allowing you to safely ride into the box ahead of the cars and make your left turn as soon as the traffic light indicates. See also: https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/intersection-treatments/bike-boxes/

 

 

 

Why have bike boxes? (SOURCE)

  • Increases visibility of bicyclists.
  • Reduces signal delay for bicyclists.
  • Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning at intersections during red signal indication – This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Facilitates the transition from a right-side bike lane to a left-side bike lane during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Helps prevent “right-hook” conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication.

Typical Applications: (SOURCE)

  • At signalized intersections with high volumes of bicycles and/or motor vehicles, especially those with frequent bicyclist left-turns and/or motorist right-turns.
  • Where there may be right or left-turning conflicts between bicyclists and motorists.
  • Where there is a desire to better accommodate left turning bicycle traffic.
  • Where a left turn is required to follow a designated bike route, access a shared-use path, or when the bicycle lane moves to the left side of the street.
  • When the dominant motor vehicle traffic flows right and bicycle traffic continues through as at a “Y” intersection or access ramp.
  • Provides priority for bicyclists at signalized bicycle boulevard crossings of major streets.
  • Groups bicyclists together to clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic.
  • Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.

 

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Here’s another Burlington feature, a “Neighborhood Greenway” – how nice is that!

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Construction Begins – South End Bikeway Connector

Today, Monday 9/16/19, marks the official City of Albany date for commencing construction on the South End Bikeway Connector. A survey of the entire route revels serval “road work ahead” signs – generally, a sure indication that work is to begin. (These signs may well be from earlier projects.)

The City of Albany 9/13/19 press release with images follows:

 CITY OF ALBANY – OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

  • 24 EAGLE STREET, ALBANY, NEW YORK 12207, mayor@albanyny.gov, (518) 434-5100
  • Date: September 13, 2019
  • Contact:  Yasmine Robinson, Deputy Director, City of Albany Department of Planning & Development, yrobinson@albanyny.gov , (518) 434-2583

* * NEWS RELEASE * *

City of Albany Announces Commencement of South End Connector Bikeway Construction – Road Construction, Parking Restrictions, & CDTA Bus Stop Closures Also Announced

ALBANY, NY – Beginning on Monday, September 16, 2019 and continuing through Spring 2020, the City’s contractor will construct the South End Connector Bikeway – the highly anticipated connection between the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail and the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (map shown in Image 1).

SEBC - Map 9-13-19

The South End Connector will link these two highly utilized trails with a combination of off-road and on-road pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians. This initiative is consistent with recommendations within the Albany 2030 Plan and the City of Albany Bicycle Master Plan, and further connects the Capital Region to the Empire State Trail.

Travel Lane Adjustments – Construction beginning on Monday, September 16 will include restriping and the creation of a raised-curb median along South Pearl Street from Old South Pearl Street to Mount Hope Drive. Concrete barriers will be temporarily used to note lane shifts until construction of the Capital District Transportation Authority’s Bus Rapid Transit River Line is complete in 2020, however no lane closures are anticipated during construction.

Parking RestrictionsDuring construction, parking will be prohibited on the east side of South Pearl Street between Old South Pearl Street and the Frontage Road.

CDTA Bus Stop Closures – During construction of CDTA’s Mount Hope northbound station, all existing bus stops along Pearl Street and Mount Hope Drive will remain operational except for one stop closure in the northbound direction on Pearl Street at Ezra Prentice Homes (as shown in Image 2).

PrintAfter completion of the Mount Hope northbound station, stops on Pearl Street south of the new station will be closed, with the Mount Hope station serving all northbound routes. Closed stops will be visibly indicated with a CDTA blue bag and public notices.

 About the South End Connector BikewayWhen complete, the South End Connector will create a bikeway from South Pearl Street & Old South Pearl Street to Church Street, along the Frontage Road intersection, and then continue underneath Interstate-787 to Broadway and Quay Street as depicted in Image 1. Between Old South Pearl Street and the Frontage Road, there will be a separated on-street two-way cycle track, the first in the City of Albany, depicted in Image 3.

SEBC - Two Way Cycle Track 9-13-19

Construction of a 10-foot wide multi-use trail will run beneath the Interstate-787 corridor from the intersection of the Frontage Road and Church Street to the Broadway and Quay Street intersection. At the intersection of Church Street and Bassett Street, the Connector will be on-road until Rensselaer Street where it will then shift off-road. The northbound lane of Church Street from Rensselaer Street to Bassett Street will be removed and Church Street will become a one-way roadway in the southbound direction.

Broadway currently consists of four travel lanes; two in the eastbound direction and two in the westbound direction. One lane on Broadway will be removed to construct the multi-use path on the south side of Broadway, resulting in one westbound lane and two eastbound lanes when construction is complete. Construction will include installation of new curbing along the south side of Broadway and modifications of existing striping along Church Street and Broadway.

Funding for this project has been provided in part by the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund, as well as The Climate Smart Community Grant Program, Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

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