Tag Archives: complete streets

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.


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.


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

They Are Here – Bicycle Lanes on Madison Ave.!

They Are Here – Bicycle Lanes on Madison Ave.!

Finally – workers are today, Monday, 8/22/16, putting the finishing touches on the new road layout on Madison Ave. from Partridge St. to Allen St.

 See more photos here – https://lorenzworden.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/august-22-2016-madison-ave/

Not surprisingly, when people in cars complete the new one-travel lane segment delimited by the center turn lane on one side and the bicycle lanes and parking lanes on the other, they continue in a “traffic-calmed” single file. How easy it was! Attention Naysayers! – Before the job is 100 percent completed, people have learned how to drive in it.

Moreover, what a dream to ride one’s bicycle.

Dimensions (unofficial – taken from centerline of stripes):

  • Parking Lane – 7’
  • Bicycle Lane/Parking Lane Stripe – 5”
  • Bicycle Lane – 6’
  • Bicycle Lane/Travel Lane Stripe – 6.5”
  • Travel Lane – 10’ 3”
  • Turn Lane – 10’

Credit for this success lies largely with Virginia Hammer, president of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, whose diligence, persistence, initiative, and presence at many events guided this new era for the City of Albany into fruition. We need also recognize all those who attended meetings, carried banners and posters, wrote letters, and signed petitions to support the effort to calm Madison Ave. for the benefit of all.

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Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, City Review

Protected Bicycle Lanes at Risk on Madison Ave.

Protected Bicycle Lanes at Risk on Madison Ave. – After a 10-year effort by citizen groups, the City of Albany is designing and constructing a “road diet” along Madison Ave. from S. Allen St. to Lark St. While the project reduces the number of motor vehicle travel lanes, while improving to some degree bicycle accommodations, it still maintains Madison Ave. as a car-priority street.

The City of Albany is holding a Public Meeting on Madison Ave. Traffic Calming and Protected Bicycle Lanes on Wednesday, March 9, 6:30-7:30 PM at the College of St. Rose, Lally School of Education, 1009 Madison Ave.

The City of Albany initially proposed three alternative treatments:

  • Shared Motor Vehicle/Bicycle Lanes
  • Shared Motor Vehicle Parking/Bicycle Lanes
  • Conventional Bicycle Lanes


5-ft lane with buffer

Since no one of these, especially the first two “non-facilities,” were acceptable, the Protected Bicycle Lane Coalition formed to push for a 2-way Protected Bicycle Lane on the north side of Madison Ave. The city studied this proposal and added a fifth option, Buffered Bicycle Lanes. The Protected Bicycle Lane Coalition then offered a second Protected Bicycle Lane option, 1-way Protected Bicycle Lanes on each side of the street.

The City now has two alternatives under consideration. The purpose of the meeting is to review these concepts and trade-offs for the two feasible alternatives. The Allen St.-to-Lark St. project is to be done in three phases, Allen to Partridge Sts. being the first.


Meeting Details:

  • Wednesday
  • March 9, 2016
    6:30 to 7:30 PM
  • Info/questions? Bill Trudeau Jr., Coordinator of Traffic Engineering, Albany Traffic Engineering Unit, 434-5791, MadisonAveStudy@albany-ny.org
  • The College of Saint Rose – Lally School of Education, 1009 Madison Ave., Touhey Forum
  • March 9, 2016

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Filed under Activisim, protected bicycle lanes

Big Weekend – #1 Tour the South End Bikeway Link and #2 Bike EXPO 2015

#1.    Albany’s Past and Present ~ Bicycle Tour of the South End Bikeway Link and Area

Saturday, May 2 – 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM

START: Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center –Broadway and Clinton Ave. Free parking in lot behind the Pump Station (Enter on Spencer St. off Broadway). Free event followed by on-your-own social gathering at the Pump Station.

Tour the South End Bikeway Link and some interesting historic sites. In October, the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail will connect Delmar with the South Albany – reaching statewide via the Corning Preserve Bike Path, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, and the Erie and Champlain Canalways. Except for a 1.5-mile gap in the south end. How will all the cyclists/walkers, neighbors/tourists, and south enders/suburbanites connect to this network?


#2.    5th Annual Albany Bike EXPO 2015

Sunday, May 3 – 10 AM – 4 PM

Raffles and Prizes – Vendors – Entertainment

Lakehouse – Washington Park – Albany

Free Event


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Filed under City Review

Sometimes I Take the Sidewalk

From “Let’s Go Ride a Bike,”  8/29/09

Bikes belong in the street, not on the sidewalk. In fact, it is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride on a sidewalk in Chicago*. Riding in the street is generally safer because you are visible, while on the sidewalks you encounter pedestrians, cross streets, alleys, and parking lot entrances where drivers don’t expect to see bikes. Riding in the street is also generally faster and smoother, on better-maintained pavement instead of concrete blocks. Finally, riding in the street sends the correct message to drivers: that bikes belong.

Despite all of this, sometimes I take the sidewalk. Very rarely and only on the arterial streets when there is no way around them. This is the type of Chicago street where you’ll find the Targets and the McDonalds. Four lanes, two in each direction, no shoulder, definitely no bike lane, high speeds, and ginormous potholes. Meanwhile, the pedestrian-free sidewalks beckon. For these reasons, if I absolutely cannot avoid taking these streets, I usually ride on their sidewalks.

The most recent sidewalk expedition was on Thursday night, as my destination was on an arterial street and it’s the only way to get across the highway and river dividing the east and west sides. On top of everything, it was dark and raining. After studying Google maps in preparation for the trip, I decided that I would take side streets as far as possible and then hop on the sidewalk.


I am more interested in getting from point A to point B safely than in sending a message or exuding street cred (which is hard to exude on an Omafiets, anyway). 98% of the time it is safer to ride in the street, and even when I decide to take the sidewalk, it is only safer if I follow these rules:

  • Ride slowly.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and either slow to a crawl or walk your bike past them (if a sidewalk has a lot of pedestrians, don’t even try riding your bike on it).
  • Keep an eye out for alleys, driveways, parking lots or any other place from which a car could spring. Be extra cautious and look both ways.
  • At cross streets try to cross with the light in the cross walk. Assume that drivers do not see you. They certainly don’t expect anything faster than a pedestrian. Look over your shoulder for turning traffic.

This particular ride was more stressful and took longer than normal rides in the street because I had to slow and stop at so many intersections. Although I passed no pedestrians, I passed a few bikes – a couple on the sidewalk and a couple in the street. Did I feel a little sheepish when I passed the street riders? Sure, but not sheepish enough to throw myself in a situation where I did not feel safe.

The problem is that the city traffic design completely disregards bikes at the most dangerous areas, such as crossing rivers and highways. (Read about this problem in more detail at Chicago Bike Blog, where the author eventually decides to take arterial street sidewalks for a particular route with her son). So for those who are passionately against sidewalk riding under any circumstances, I respect that, but don’t hate the player, hate the game.

SOURCE: Let’s Go Ride a Bike,  8/29/09


*NOTES: New York State appears to be typical in that the Vehicle and Traffic Law 5 does not regulate sidewalk bicycling. It appears that the General Municipal Law (Section 180) 6  states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks. They cannot require that bicyclists use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits to sidewalk bicycling. ALBANY CODE – § 359-4 Riding on sidewalks prohibited; exceptions. – No person shall ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on or over any footpath in any of the parks, or on or over any of the sidewalks of any of the streets or avenues in this City, except if it is to go into a yard, lot or building; provided, however, that the foregoing provision of this section shall not apply to children under 10 years of age; and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit the riding of any bicycle, tricycle or similar vehicle upon or over the unpaved portion of the sidewalk of any such street or streets outside of the thickly settled part of the City as shall be designated in writing by the Mayor.  Every designation so made as aforesaid shall be filed with the Chief of Police and may be revoked by the Mayor at any time in his discretion.


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Filed under Activisim, City Review, Feature, Riding in Albany