Tag Archives: safety

Update on 25 MPH in New York State

The Bottom Line – If New Yorkers want safer streets, they are going to have to “stand up and be counted” against those forces that – knowingly or otherwise – stand in the way of this goal.

The Backstory – Once, a long time ago, the statewide municipal speed limit was 25 mph. The highway limit was 50. Somewhere along the way to our present state of roadway mayhem, the municipal limit was raised to 30 and the highway to 55 (1974). Remember? Somehow the “traffic engineers” decided that if we were killing people at 25, why hesitate to go to 30? Aren’t people in a hurry to get somewhere? But wait! “Results show that the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10% at an impact speed of 16 mph, 25% at 23 mph, 50% at 31 mph, 75% at 39 mph, and 90% at 46 mph. The average risk of death for a pedestrian reaches 10% at an impact speed of 23 mph, 25% at 32 mph, 50% at 42 mph, 75% at 50 mph, and 90% at 58 mph.” National Association of City Transportation Officials will tell you the same thing. This is the AAA speaking, probably one of the organizations that, of any, backed the “all cars-all the time” situation in which we now suffer. Would you want to guess what the average actual speed is in 30-mph zones?

What We’re Doing – Albany Bicycle Coalition (ABC) is part of the statewide Safe Streets Coalition that pushed for the 25-mph legislation. It passed last year, 2022. ABC worked with the bill sponsors to coordinate the campaign to get passed. It was part of the set of bills called the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act (CVRSA) that was regularly discussed at ABC meetings. ABC members made calls and wrote to State Legislators and the Governor, participated in a Lobby Day at the Capitol, and spoke before the Assembly Transportation Committee. ABC was successful in getting Albany City Common Council to unanimously pass a resolution in support of the CVRSA. Other cities and towns followed. Three of those CVRSA bills passed including the 25-mph bill.

The 25-mph law was a victory, but it was tempered with a late amendment placing substantial barriers in the way of implementation. This same mentality is also the reason we still don’t have a 3-foot safe passage law for cyclists as is the case in 36 other states and the District of Columbia.

The Cities Speak – After the bill passed Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Bethlehem, and Saratoga Springs all started to pursue lowering their speed limits. We are following their progress and need to be ready to speak out when these ordinances are ready for public comment. In the meantime, there is great confusion about what is required to meet the hurdle of the language below. We hope that the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) will hold a webinar to help everyone contend with it all the barriers to this critical, “safety-first” speed limit.

ABC and other Safe Streets members are concerned about the lack of clarity on how to proceed to 25 mph. We ask – why not base the speed-reduction ordinances on these factors?

  • Rate of fatalities and injuries.
  • Existing studies (e.g., the data already in Albany’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan).
  • Increasing prevalence and deadliness of larger vehicles.
  • Increasing statewide traffic violence (e.g., all traffic fatalities in NY up another 4 percent in first 9 months of 2022).

In the meantime, we are waiting for regulations. If they are not satisfactory, we will probably seek a new amendment to the statute.

Act Now – This year ABC is joining with the Safe Streets Coalition in pursuing the bills that can be found at https://www.transalt.org/safe. The collection of bills is called the Safe Streets Act (instead of the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act). You can help by following the link and then clicking on “Take Action Now for Safe Streets”. It will help you auto-generate a message to your NYS Senator and Assembly Member. You can edit the message to include your comments about the current 25-mph bill!

You can also help make streets safer locally by spreading word about the Capital Region Vision Zero Alliance. This Alliance is taking the effort for safer streets beyond bicycle and pedestrian groups. We aim to diversify, coordinate and amplify the demand for the tried-and-true changes we need on the local level.  We want to bring in organizations concerned with public health, crime, safety for our young and old, and even AAA – anyone concerned with safe roads.

Barriers – This is the Infamous language (the complete source appears below) included in the 25-mph law:  “No speed limits shall be established pursuant to the provisions of this  section except in accordance with the engineering considerations and factors for speed limits set forth in the manual and specifications for a  uniform  system of traffic control devices maintained by the commissioner of transportation  pursuant  to section sixteen hundred eighty of this title, as such  manual and specifications may be amended from time to time, certified by a licensed professional engineer who specializes in traffic operations.”

This is a gross misunderstanding of the intent of the law and its implementation. The 25-mph law needs to be a political and societal decision based on the safety needs of all road users and not a technical/engineering one based on outmoded priorities and dated expertise. It is absolutely insane that cities cannot determine the best speed limit in certain area. Thirty mph on narrow, one-way streets is too fast as it is on many residential and commercial areas. If imposition of the 25-mph limit is contingent on a traffic study, cities, such as Albany, will delay movement on 25 mph waiting for the study. They have no choice. 

But It’s Worse – In spite of NYSDOT abysmal design-for-death practices, it is empowered to interfere in almost any aspect of establishing 25-mph limits. According to the following, the NYS Legislature has again ignored NYSDOT’s past and current road design debacles and has re-empowered it to squelch any but the most strident safety advocates or municipalities. With DOT’s grip on the purse strings and with its power to frustrate almost any road/street project. It seems to hold all the cards in what is really only a baby step toward equitable road design.

Learn More – Here are some links for those who are genuinely interested in roadway safety and who are fed up totally with the “all cars-all the time” philosophy that drivers urban “traffic planning:”

Guidance on Implementation of 25-mph Speed Limits from New York State Department of Transportation – October 19, 2022 – Office of Traffic Safety & Mobility

SOURCE: https://m.box.com/shared_item/https%3A%2F%2Fcornell.box.com%2Fs%2Fwqvf4n7ql868w7p4z6m3ett69c0moz6w 

A. NYS laws regarding speed limits were changed on August 12, 2022.

1. The minimum allowable area speed limit changed from 30 mph to 25 mph. The minimum allowable linear speed

limit remains 25 mph.

2. A provision was added stating that speed limits must be set in accordance with the engineering considerations

and factors for speed limits set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices(MUTCD) and NYS

Supplement (Supplement).

3. A provision was added stating that speed limits must be certified by a licensed professional engineer who

specializes in traffic operations.

B. The changes in law did not include any change to who has the authority to set speed limits.


1. NYSDOT sets speed limits on all state highways. (NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, §1620)

2. Cities and villages set speed limits on highways within their jurisdictions, except for state highways.

(NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, §1643)

3. NYSDOT sets speed limits on town and county highways. (NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, §1622)

4. Towns with populations greater than 50,000 people, and suburban towns, may set speed limits on all highways

open to public traffic in the town outside villages, except for state highways. (NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, §1662-a)

Official status as a suburban town can only be obtained by following the procedures outlined in law, and filing the

necessary notice with the Secretary of State. (NYS Town Law, §50-a)

C. Setting speed limits in New York State.

1. Requirements come from the MUTCD and Supplement. NYSDOT Traffic Safety & Mobility Instruction

(TSMI) 17-05 provides additional recommendations.

2. An engineering study certified by a Professional Engineer who specializes in traffic operations is required.

3. The appropriate speed limit for a linear regulation should be determined using one of three methods:

a) Within 5 mph of the 85th-percentile speed of free-flowing traffic using radar.

b) Conducting a floating vehicle check during free-flow conditions.

c) Using USLIMITS2, a FHWA web-based speed limit tool.

4. An area regulation may be used where an area speed limit would be reasonable and warranted in terms of the

physical characteristics and development of the area involved. The appropriate speed limit for an area regulation

should be determined with respect to the “major streets” within the area. Major streets are those streets which

serve as main arteries in providing access to and from various sections of the area. This is distinct from a

“through street,” which passes completely through the area, and carries some traffic other than that generated

in the area, and a “minor street,” which generally serves motorists traveling between a point on a street within

the area, and the area entrance/exit.

D. References.

1. MUTCD Section 2B.13 (https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2r3/part2b.pdf)

2. Supplement Section 2B.13 (https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/oom/transportation-


3. NYSDOT TSMI 17-05 (https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/oom/transportation-



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Filed under 25 MPH, Article, Editorial, safety

The Leaves are Falling (and a Little Snow Too)

The fine fall weather provides opportunities for some nice riding whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are tips to encourage your riding and to keep you safe:

  • Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low-light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are primarily to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.
  • Add 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.
  • Keep your re-chargeables charged. Replace the batteries in the rest.
  • 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.
  • Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  • Watch other people on bicycles and judge their “visibility index” as a guide to improving your own.
  • Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  • Maybe shop for and use a helmet mounted rear-facing light.
  • Be fair to people in cars – let them see you. Driving is challenging at this time of year. Don’t join the “ghost bike” program.
  • You will ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Use the layering technique.
  • 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 reflective vest from your locally owned hardware or big box home center for around $20.00. You might add this vest to your year-around “kit.”
  • Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  • Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes, ruts, utility caps, and craters in the paved surface. City streets are worse than ever so watch for crevices, bumps, utility covers, patches, and so on. Good front lighting will help here!
  • Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.
  • Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  • 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 more quickly). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them).
  • Consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  • Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will end 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.
  • When riding into that low fall sun, remember that the people in cars behind may not see you, as they also will be blinded.
  • Plan your braking and turns to avoid a spill.
  • Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  • 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 CapitalNYBikeMaphttps://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

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

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Filed under Comings and Goings, Lighting, safety, Winter Cycling

Washington Ave. Flyover – A Call for Change

Washington Ave. Flyover – A Call for Change – In fall 2012, the long awaited “Flyover” to route through motor vehicle traffic from Washington Ave. to the Washington Ave. Extension was completed. This and the accompanying series of traffic circles on Fuller Rd. were clearly designed under an “all cars-all the time” philosophy. These means that people on bicycles who want to travel on Washington Ave. and its Extension, on Fuller Rd., on the University at Albany’s “purple path,” and on the Six-Mile Trail must be in the Advanced/Experienced “Strong and Fearless” or “Enthused and confident” 1 percent category.

The following letter calls for the New York State Department of Transportation to revisit this area and to modify it to accommodate people on bicycles.

Here are some earlier rider assessments.

++++++ LETTER ++++++

Albany Bicycle Coalition, Inc.

September 4, 2018

RE: Washington Ave. Flyover at Fuller Rd.

Sam Zhou, PE – Director
Region One – NYS Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232

Dear Mr. Zhou:

This is to seek your assistance in clarifying safety concerns of the Albany Bicycle Coalition and of people on bicycles who use Washington Ave., Washington Ave. Extension, and Fuller Rd.

Because of our advocacy role in the region, we receive questions and comments about riding conditions. One common area of concern is navigation of the Fuller Rd. traffic circles, the Fuller Rd./Washington Ave. intersections, the Flyover, and bicycle travel on Washington Ave. Extension. As you are aware, fear of riding in traffic is the single, major impediment to bicycle travel. This is nowhere more apparent than in those spaces where motor vehicle movement was the paramount design feature.
In response to these concerns, we formed a study group to develop questions and recommendations about these specific roadways. We are at the point where we need advice from you or members of your staff on what are feasible treatments for this Washington Ave.-Fuller Rd. area.

I am asking that you arrange for our group to meet with you or staff for a learning session where we can articulate our concerns and our ideas. I am enclosing some specific ideas that result from our site visits and deliberations. Because several of our members work during the day, it would be helpful to have such a meeting at the end of or after the businesses day. This meeting could be augmented by site visit(s).

We look forward to hearing from you.

++++++ Attachment ++++++


September 2018

  1. Bicycles Ahead Signage – Place several signs near the merge areas on both Fuller Rd. and Washington Ave. (Share the Road, Bicycles In Lane, etc.). Of particular emphasis is the on ramp to westbound Washington Ave. Extension from southbound Fuller Rd.
  2. Bicycle Lane Markings – Install conventional bicycle lane pavement markings on the Washington Ave. “flyover” shoulders to designate clearly where the people on bicycles should be riding. These markings will instruct both cyclists and people in cars.
  3. Bicycle Lane – Install “Bicycle Lane” signs near and at both entrances to the Flyover.
  4. Activation Alert – Install bicycle-activated sensors to illuminate a bicycle symbol sign on the Fuller Rd. exit onto westbound Washington Ave. These will alert motorists when cyclists are present. Bicycles would activate these as they pass over the correct place on the shoulder (bicycle lane) without stopping. (A less effective alternative is MUTCD-compliant flashing LED edge-light signs with high-intensity LEDs.)
  5. Intersection Crossing Pavement Marking on Westbound Washington Ave. – Install crossing markings (e.g., dotted green and white) in the median to guide people on bicycles from the proposed bicycle lane on westbound Washington Ave. to the proper lane to continue west on Washington Ave. Extension. This will (1) alert people in cars to the presence of bicycles and (2) guide cyclists away from the tail of the merge lane (where they would risk conflicts with both the through motor vehicles and the merging motor vehicles).
  6. Shared Lanes Markings – Install Shared Lanes pavement markings on all lanes leading to and from the flyover.
  7. Walk Your Bicycle Assist – Install enhanced walking instructions for those people on bicycles who prefer not to navigate by bicycle the multiple traffic circles to access the Six-Mile Trail, Washington Ave., the University at Albany campus, or Fuller Rd. Ensure continued diligence to maintain and clean the sidewalks, curb cuts, and pavement markings/signage.


Filed under Activisim, Albany-Colonie Connector, Fuller Rd., NYS DOT, Washington Ave.

Albany’s 10th Annual Ride of Silence

The Albany Bicycle Coalition held the Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 17. Twenty-six riders plus an Albany Police Department escort visited four ghost bike sites in the City of Albany and Colonie – Jose Perez, Diva De Loayza, Nicholas Ricicihi, and Paul Merges.  We started from the Boat Launch area, Albany Corning Preserve and W. Capitol Park on Washington Ave. At each site, we placed fresh flowers.

At Diva De Loayza’s ghost bike site (corner of Western Ave., Homestead we read the names of those who have been killed since 2000 while riding their bicycles. We were honored to hear from family members of three of the fallen riders.

Ride of Silence – 10 Years – The national Ride of Silence organization has authorized ROS 10 yr logo 2017ABC’s using the 10-Year Anniversary logo since we are on record as having conducted the Albany ROS each year for that period.  Going back those 10 years from this year’s ride date (5/17), we have lost John J. Cummings (1/27/16), Robert Agne, Stephen Nolan, Brian Bailey, Matthew Ratelle, and Paul J. Merges (11/24/12).  That’s 1 every 20 months.  Four of the six died by virtue of bad behavior by people in cars.  See for complete annotated list and photos at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2017/05/01/ride-of-silence/

This year, thanks to Alert Rider Anthony, we had tags to give to those who saw our ride. Each tag had the ROS logo and a few words on the rationale for the ride.



Filed under Activisim, Ride of Silence

Washington Ave. – Watcha’ Gonna Do?




The recent reduction in speed limits on Washington Ave. from Brevator to Fuller Rd. (from 40 to 30 mph) and from Fuller to Rt. 155/Karner Rd. (from 55 to 45) invites immediate reconsideration of the street for use by people on bicycles and for increased safety for all road users. Opening almost 4 miles on Washington Ave. for all users would provide a major commuter and recreational route and would connect the City of Albany to Schenectady and the suburbs with benefits to all. Specifically for people on bicycles, a traffic-calmed Washington Ave. would connect to the Six Mile Waterworks Park trail (and thence to Lincoln Ave./Rapp Rd. and then to Central Ave.) allowing riders to bypass the dangerous Wolf Rd. – Central Ave. area.

To support this approach, we need only note that, although the official speed is now lower, the configuration of the road and the clear message it sends to people in cars is – 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 mph – it’s all good. The entire Albany Police Department could not “police” speeders on Washington Ave. The simple solution is to abandon this configuration of wide lanes with negligible build up or greenery near the roadway, wide shoulders, and 4 lanes. We can send a “complete streets message” by taking advantage of these wide shoulders and extra wide motor vehicle travel lanes to provide 11-foot travel lanes and bicycle lanes on each side from Manning Blvd. to 155/Karner Rd..

A positive feature of Washington Ave. is that it lies under only one jurisdiction – the City of Albany – and is not a New York State numbered route. This means that it is unnecessary to navigate many levels of government to make these changes.

Another aspect of Washington Ave. is the “trail to nowhere” that starts on the sidewalk at the Fuller Rd. underpass/traffic circle on the south side of Washington Ave. (2.4 miles from Manning Blvd.). This multi-use path runs to an abrupt end at the Collin’s Circle entrance to the University at Albany. On its way there, the multi-use path crosses one campus access road (W. University Dr.) with no bicycle accommodations but with pedestrian crossing signals. (With Albany’s “right turn on red after pause ’rule’,” all these University at Albany entries are high-risk crossings.)

There is unencumbered real estate for continuation of this path from Collins Circle to the New York State Harriman Campus western border near the traffic lights controlling access to the office complex at 1365-1367-1375 Washington Ave. (3.8 miles from the start of the multiuse path at Fuller Rd.). Possibly, all that is needed is straightforward signaled crossover for pedestrians and for people on bicycles (to switch between the multi-use path and the bicycle lanes).

Here is a look at Washington Ave. (photos dated 4-9-17):

  1. (photo above) Super Mirage at Fuller at Wash Ave
  2. (photo above)Fuller at Wash Ave – Looking east
  3. Aspen & Quad Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
  4. Collins Cir Entrance Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
  5. Looking toward new Path Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
  6. E Bridge over Ring Rd Wash Ave-UA
  7. Exit to Patroon Creek and Ring Rd Wash Ave-UA
  8. Bridge Over Rt 85 at Jermain St Wash Ave-UA – Looking east
  9. Exit to Rt 85 from Wash Ave-UA


3. Aspen & Quad – Looking East



5. New Path Route East?


6. East Bridge Over NYS Campus Ring Rd.



7. Exit to Patroon Creek and NYS Campus Ring Road



8. Bridge Over Rt 85 at Jermain St.



9. Exit to Rt 85 from Washington Ave.



Filed under ABChallenge-2017, Bike Lanes