Category Archives: safety

Assembly Transportation Committee Hearing on Complete Streets

Albany Bicycle Coalition joined many other Safe Streets Coalition members at today’s [10/3/22] NYS Assembly Transportation Committee Hearing on Complete Streets.  Under consideration were two bills not passed last session that would expand the types of road projects that are given Complete Streets consideration. 

I spoke with respect to Assembly Member Rivera’s bill.  That bill includes, when possible, Complete Sstreet design features in resurfacing, maintenance, and pavement recycling projects and further enable safe access to public roads for all users.  My comments to the Committee appear below.

The second bill considered at the hearing (Barret/A08624) will expand the state’s current complete street design principles policy to include all state, county and local transportation projects that are undertaken by the DOT or receive federal, state or both federal and state funding.   Meanwhile, our local Assembly Member Pat Fahy has a bill (A8936/S3897) for additional state funding for Complete Streets that was passed by both the Assembly and the Senate but is not yet signed by Governor Hochul.  Assembly Transportation Chair Magnarelli expressed his hope that it will be signed soon.   We ask that all our readers contact the Governor’s Office encouraging her to sign that bill (call:  518-474-8390).

There were several other local participants. Our friend Patty Sawyer was among the mothers of victims of traffic violence who attended.  Guilderland Town Planner, Kenneth Kovalchik spoke to barriers thrown up to Complete Streets efforts in Guilderland/Crossgates projects and the Delaware Avenue Road Diet Project.  Ken Grey, Chair of the Complete Streets Advisory Board in Saratoga Springs spoke to efforts there and in favor of the bills.  Jeff Olson, a local e-charging entrepreneur with long experience in transportation spoke in favor of the bills and the need to avoid letting the mania for EV’s turn our roads into havens for killer EV monster trucks.  NY Bicycle Coalition Board Member and Albany resident Rosanna Coto-Batras also spoke eloquently of the need for the bills.

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If the bills get out of committee, I expect there will be some changes.  The unfounded fear is that nobody will be able to fill a pothole without a Complete Streets study.

Regards,

Ed Brennan

Ed Brennan

President, Albany Bicycle Coalition

389 McCormack Road

Albany, NY 12208

I am Edward Brennan.  I am a resident of the City of Albany.  In March of this year our Common Council voted unanimously in support of the passage of these Complete Streets bills as contained in the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act package.  I am also President of the Albany Bicycle Coalition.  Our not-for-profit organization has been promoting bicycling and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Capital Region since 2004.  

Every year we hold a local Ride of Silence along with organizations throughout the world remembering cyclists that perished on public roads.  Last year we began our ride with a service remembering over 40 cyclists, pedestrians and motorists that have died since the year 2000 on nearby Central Avenue that connects Albany and Schenectady. 

Central Avenue is something of a poster child for the need for Complete Streets in the Capital Region.  After so many deaths NYSDOT conducted a Central Avenue Pedestrian Safety Study that was published in 2015. Some changes were implemented but deaths have continued. I don’t doubt that it will take significant changes and probably large expenditures to make Central Avenue significantly safer.

My testimony however relates to Rapp Road, which is a road that many could use to avoid Central Avenue to get between the Town of Colonie and Albany and between Guilderland and Colonie.  Making Rapp Road significantly safer would have been much less of an effort than fixing Central Avenue.Rapp Road becomes Lincoln Avenue in Colonie where it intersects with Central Avenue to the North.Rapp Road leads to Crossgates Mall, an important shopping center to the South.Rapp Road goes through the Albany Pine Bush, a unique ecological area that has hiking paths connecting to both sides of Rapp Road and hikers can often be seen along Rapp Road going from one footpath to another.Rapp Road overpasses the NYS Thruway/Interstate 90 with a wide shoulder that is relatively safe for cyclists and pedestriansRapp Road is an endpoint for the Six Mile Waterworks Multiuse Path that allows cyclists and pedestrians to safely go under The Northway/Interstate 87  

Safe places for cyclists and pedestrians to cross Interstates deserve special mention because they are so few and far between and require significant capital expenditures. 

One of the 40 plus persons we commemorated at our last ride of silence was 39-year-old Jeremy Williams who was struck and killed on Central Avenue while trying to cycle through the Central Avenue Interchange with the Northway.  Making safe bike-ped crossings of Interstates isn’t cheap.  Where such safe crossings have been created you would think there would be reasonable efforts made to make them more useful.

The problem with this particular 0.6-mile segment of Rapp Road is that it gets a great deal of traffic and has a windy section with little or no shoulder.  Years ago, we saw Rapp Road was long overdue for some kind of major repair.  We wrote to our Mayor, sent many e-mails, spoke to local transportation officials and distributed a pamphlet we made about the need to improve safety along this short stretch of Rapp Road. 

We were surprised one day to find a project started. The road was milled down and quickly repaved.  We had no warning or chance for input though we had made ourselves pests about the road for years. There was no meaningful change to the shoulder.  Now motor vehicles have a fresh smooth surface facilitating higher speeds which are perhaps more dangerous to other users.  Unless someone dies here, I doubt the road will be looked at again for the next 20 years.

We need to expand Complete Streets considerations to projects like Rapp Road so we are not missing so many important opportunities to improve transportation safety.  Maintenance, Resurfacing, and Pavement Recycling Projects that extend the life of roadways make economic sense.  A Complete Streets perspective is still essential to make sure that extending the life of a roadway isn’t unnecessarily extending existing dangers to the lives of those that use those roadways.

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Filed under Activisim, Central Ave., safety

Multiuse Path Etiquette

The approaching spring weather suggests that trips to the nearest multi-use path are in the near future. With that in mind, it’s time to remind ourselves that multi-use means just that – people will be there with a multiplicity of modes of transport ranging from babies in carriages to mobility devices to road warriors on carbon-fiber bikes. It is a good time to review some of the appropriate protocols or rules for using a multi-use path.

The very first one and probably the most important to both walkers/joggers and cyclists is to keep to the right. Sometimes walkers are confused since they were raised to walk on the left side facing traffic. However, that is on a road or street with no sidewalks. A multi-use path is not a roadway so walk on the right and ride on the right.

Here are some other tips:

Walkers –

  • It’s great to walk in twos or threes for the social benefit, but keep in mind the need to move to the right into single file to allow faster moving traffic – generally bicycles, skaters and joggers – to pass safely by.
  • As needed, just move to the right trail edge. Don’t scatter in different directions, and divide to different sides of the path or stand still in the middle like a bunny in the headlights!
  • Stay alert to what is behind you.
  • Small children and dogs on leashes need to be kept under control for their safety and for the safety of others on the trail. This is especially true when a dog is on a retractable lead as it allows the animal to range across the trail forming a barrier.

Cyclists –

The main rule is to be aware that you are traveling faster than other trail users. You are obligated to extend courtesy to them as you pass by.

  • Always signal your presence by ringing your bell, calling out, or clearly indicating you’re passing on the left – “on your left!”
  • Avoid startling those being overtaken.
  • Always yield to pedestrians and mobility devices – no exceptions.
  • If traveling two or more abreast, be prepared to single up when overtaking other path users, approaching other users, or when being overtaken by faster riders.
  • Experienced riders who are out on training rides must remember that the multi-use path is not a racetrack and that you put yourself and others at risk by riding at speeds that are far in excess of all other users. Nobody wants to get hit by the combined weight of cyclist and bicycle moving at any speed – especially if the rider is using a peddle assist bike with the added weight of a battery, motor, heavier frame, etc.
  • If you need high speed training rides, choose the appropriate time and place.

Both Walkers and Riders –

  • If stopping, get off the trail to allow others to pass by.
  • At dusk and in the dark, have a light front and rear.
  • Bring out any trash you bring to the trail (plus a little more if you can). Take it with you or deposit in appropriate container when you leave.
  • Those who bring dogs need to clean up and discard or carry out any “by-product.”
  • If you reach the trailhead by a motor vehicle, park where indicated and ensure that your vehicle is not blocking another.
  • If you come across someone having difficulty, check to see if you can offer needed assistance.
  • Stay off private property. Be courteous to local residents and respect their property.

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, Editorial, safety

Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act

Your support is essential to the success of a major new roadway safety campaign. Even if you do not ride a bicycle and do not walk except to and from your car, roadway safety still has to be a concern. Please take a few minutes to sign on to the campaign here – http://nysafestreets.org.  and select TAKE ACTION.

As motor vehicles have grown larger, with increases in distracted driving and speeding, more cyclists and pedestrians are being seriously injured and killed. While we have seen some minor improvements to pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, our roads are still largely designed and built to carry motor vehicles and are unsafe for all other users.

Nicholas Richichi, age 53, 10/29/07

For these reasons, the Albany Bicycle Coalition has joined Walkable Albany and a statewide coalition of bicycling and other road safety advocates in our common effort to pass the NY Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act (CVRSA). The seven bills in the CVRSA will permit municipalities the option to lower their speed limits, mandate 3-foot clearance when passing cyclists, support Complete Streets initiatives that improve road safety for all users, better educate drivers to protect vulnerable road users, and provide support to those personally impacted.

As part of The New York Safe Streets Coalition’s launch of the campaign for the CVRSA, Albany Bicycle Coalition released the following short video:  https://youtu.be/2qpVRHWNd1A.

For further CVRSA information, see http://nysafestreets.org.

The complete set of bills in the CVRSA are as follows:

Speed Limit Authorizes cities, villages and towns (outside NYC) to reduce the speed limit to twenty-five miles per hour.S02021 (May)A01007 (Paulin)
Sammy’s Law Allows lower life-saving speed limits in NYCS524 (Hoylman)A4655 (Gottfried)
Complete StreetsIncreases state funding where the municipality agrees to fund a complete street design feature. S3897 (Kennedy)A8936 (Fahy)
Complete Streets MaintenanceIncludes, when possible, complete street design features in resurfacing, maintenance, and pavement recycling projects and further enable safe access to public roads for all users.S5130 (Kennedy)A7782 (Rivera)
Safe PassageRequire drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance of min. 3 feet.S4529 (Harckham)A547 (Steck)
DMV Pre- Licensing CourseEducates NY drivers about safely interacting with vulnerable road usersS1078A (Gounardes)A5084/7032 (Gallagher)
Crash Victim Bill of RightsGuarantee rights & a voice for crash victims and their loved ones in legal proceedingsS8152 (Hoylman)Glick

Join the Push for Safer Streets for All – To do your part in pushing for safe roads, you need to contact both of your state legislators to express your support for the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act.

Since many organizations that are not primarily involved with cycling, walking, or roadway safety should still have an interest in this initiative, you may want to sign your organization on to the campaign. You can complete this form.

Diva De Loayza, age 40, 6/6/07

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Filed under Activisim, Death on the Road, safety, Support the Cause

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.

++++++

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