Category Archives: safety

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]

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is grinch.jpg

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

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

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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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

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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:

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