Category Archives: safety

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.

++++++

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.

++++++

Leave a comment

Filed under Activisim, Equity, safety, South End Bike Link, South End Bikeway Connector

Safe Streets – It Can Be Done

The Setting – This is about a recent traffic calming street redesign in a residential area but one with major traffic arteries – Partridge St. and Woodlawn Ave.

UPDATE: On 9/29/20, City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and others gathered at the project site to cut a ribbon opening the new sidewalk. As the Mayor stated “it’s not often that you get invited to a ribbon cutting for a sidewalk.” The mayor and other speakers all noted the long-time request from residents of the area for a sidewalk on Woodlawn to ensure the safety of people walking and visitors to the various recreational facilities at the park. The Albany Common Council Members, county legislators, and the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association president all thanked the Mayor and other city officials for bringing the project to fruition. Several Little League players come on their bicycles to help cut the ribbon.

Welcome!
L-to-R: City Engineer, Dir. Traffic Engineering, Enthused Cyclist
Snip!
It’s Open!

While ABC recognizes that this is not a “bicycle project,” we do note that the traffic calming effect of triple 4-way stop signs combined with the bumpout will tend to make this popular route safer for people on bicycles.

The Scene – In the specific location there is: the Woodlawn Park Basketball Court, Albany Babe Ruth, National Little league, and Woodlawn Park Playground. The court is constantly in use. In non-COVID-19 baseball season, players and families pack the streets and grounds. Temporary signage goes out on game days to slow motor vehicle through traffic. Both Woodlawn and Partridge are “cut-through” streets connecting New Scotland Ave., Lake Ave. Main Ave., Western Ave., Washington Ave., and Central Ave

Area Overview Prior to Redesign
Neckdown or Bulbout/Bumpout Looking South East at Glenwood
Close Up View

The Project – The City of Albany installed a “neck down,” “bulbout,” or “bumpout” mid-block to facilitate safe crossing at Glenwood St. From the National Association of City Transportation Officials, “Previous Studies on Effects of Bulbouts and Street Narrowing – The purpose of a bulbout (also known as a choker, curb bulb, neckdown, nub, or gateway) is reduction of the width of vehicle travel way at an intersection or a mid-block pedestrian crossing. Bulbouts shorten the street crossing distance for pedestrians, may slow vehicle speeds, and provide pedestrians and motorists with an improved view of one another, thereby reducing the risk of a motor vehicle–pedestrian collision.” [SOURCE: https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/effects_traffic_calming_on_ped_motorist_behavior_huang.pdf ]

Neckdown Looking North West at Glenwood from Partridge

Not only do the bulbouts reduce pedestrian travel distance, but they also provide a visible warning of their presence. Notably, the motor vehicle lane width is now 11 ft. (as should be the maximum lane width anywhere in the city). From observation, this is more than adequate for cars passing through and would not hinder first-responder vehicles. This is a heavily traveled street. While the feature is new to people in cars, they are definitely responsive to the new stop signs and narrowed road. As regular travelers become accustomed to the neckdown, speed and “pause-and-go” likely will increase. (Previously, there were no stop signs on Woodlawn at Glenwood.)

Plenty of Room – Brake Lights “On”

See more at http://www.streetfilms.org/mba-traffic-calming/#:~:text=The%20most%20effective%20traffic%20calming%20measures%20are%20those,sending%20the%20signal%20for%20drivers%20to%20slow%20down.

Why Not Elsewhere? – By comparison, Central Ave.’s curb-to-curb distance runs around 67 ft. With 2 7-ft. parking lanes, the motor vehicle travel lanes occupy 53 ft. or 12-13 ft. per lane. Wide enough? Can there be any question why this design determines the speed for people in cars vs. the posted (and theoretical) 30 MPH limit? One might guess that within a block on either side of the commercial district of Central Ave. from, say, King St. to Washington Ave. there are thousands of residents, many of whom will need to cross Central Ave. There are plenty of other opportunities within the city to “neck down” pedestrian crossings. It can be done!

Cruising Through

++++++

Leave a comment

Filed under City Review, Road Diet - Traffic Calming, safety

On the Trail – Ride Right ~ Pass Left

The clear trail message is “Ride and Walk Right – Pass Left.” This conflicts with conventional on- the road guidance with is, for pedestrians, “walk on the left side facing traffic” and, for people on bicycles, “ride on the right with traffic” where in both cases “traffic” means “motor vehicle traffic.” We frequently see both people walking and on bicycles flaunting this common sense rule at their own peril. While walking (jogging, running) facing traffic is wise in that one can “stop on a dime” and jump out of the way, riding facing traffic confuses people in cars and provides no means to “jump” out of the way. It is also illegal. This wrong-way-riding puts other people on bicycles at risk. It also risks making a collision a head-on one rather than a “rear-ender” or sideswipe.

With the apparent universal move to allow e-vehicles to ride in bicycle lanes and on multiuse paths, the need for a firm trail protocol is even more essential. In all cases, the faster traveler (joggers vs. walkers, inline skaters vs. joggers, bicycles vs. joggers, etc.) must yield to the slower.

Regrettably, if New York State Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, Empire State Trail, Parks and Trails New York, and New York State Parks and Recreation have any guidance on trail etiquette, it is well hidden. Accordingly, we have to rely on secondary sources for guidance.

Some of these are as follows:

++++++

Leave a comment

Filed under Capital Trails-New York, Comings and Goings, safety

The Leaves are Falling (and a Little Snow Too)

There are plenty of opportunities for some nice riding in fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to keep in mind during these seasons:

  1. 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.IMGP5517
  2. Consider adding 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.
  3. Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
  4. 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.
  5. Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  6. Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  7. Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  8. Maybe shop for and use a helmet mounted rear-facing light.
  9. You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.Rain2
  10. 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 cheepy reflective vest from your local big box home center.
  11. Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  12. Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes and craters in the paved surface.
  13. Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  14. Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  15. 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). You may consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  16. 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.
  17. Plan your braking to avoid a spill.5189348630_6432fb1cce_z
  18. Sunglasses are also important this time of year. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance that you will finish or start a ride in low-light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  19. Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  20. 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 Albany Bicycle Coalition BikeAlbanyMaphttps://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

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

tumblr_lhv40b0tfT1qakvm6o1_1280

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bike Tech, safety, Winter Cycling

Pay Attention!

Car #1 stops for pedestrian in crosswalk. Car #2Dreaming? Texting? Yaking? Eating?

Result?

Pay Attention EB 10-13-19

The backstory is the person slumped in the seat of Car #1 was a passenger on the way to the ER for a post op situation. The driver of Car #1 – even with an ailing passenger – has enough responsibility to stop for people walking. The driver of Car #2?

You’ll witness this identical behavior if you do some test walks on the “circles of death” on Washington Ave. and Fuller Rd. Try it …

+++++

[Photo and story courtesy of Alert Cyclist Ed.]

+++++

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Comings and Goings, safety