Capital District Transportation Committee

Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force

Record of Meeting on April 12, 2011


Attendance: Don Odell (Albany Bicycling Coalition), Jason Purvis (CDTC), Jen Ceponis (CDTC), Leah Mosall (CDTC), Todd Fabozzi (CDRPC), Ed Tremblay (City of Cohoes), Rob Leslie (Town of Bethlehem), Nelson Ronsvalle (Town of Halfmoon), Mary Harding (NYSDOT), Gina Gillooley (NYSDOH), Martin Daley (Parks & Trails NY), Carrie Ward (CDTA), Mike Lyons (Town of Colonie), Paul Russell, Katie Bronson (City of Albany), Clara Fang (Mayor’s Office of Energy & Sustainability), Chris Marshall (Village of Altamont), Jim Mearkle (Albany County), Don Robertson (None at the Moment), Susan Olsen (NYSDOT Region 1), Ivan Vamos (NYBC), Elaine Troy (NYSDOH Healthy Heart Program), Melissa MacKinnon (Niskayuna Safe Routes), Linda von der Heide (Rensselaer County)


1.0   New Business

1.1 Recap of National Bike Summit – Jeff Olson (canceled)   


1.2 Earth Day Events – As part of local Earth Day events, a “bicycle ride” is planned for Friday, April 22 at 11:30 at Academy Park in Albany.  Additionally, there will be a press conference regarding the City of Albany’s NYSERDA grant to study the feasibility and location of electric vehicle infrastructure and a vacant lot cleanup and beautification project.  All events are listed on the City of Albany Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability website:


1.3 Capital Coexist – With Bike Month fast approaching, the campaign has initiated a number of new outreach strategies and partnerships.  These new outreach strategies include television advertisements and the new online discussion forum at  G. Gillooley facilitated a partnership between Capital Coexist and the Schenectady County DMV, who will be distributing rack cards in their new driver packets.  Capital Coexist is sponsoring the Valley Cats this summer and Capital Coexist will be funding a bicycle and pedestrian enforcement training Jan. – May 2012 with Peter Fluke, of WE BIKE. 


1.4 Bike Rack Program Update – The bike racks have been ordered (applications were due Feb. 25). CDTA received $35,000 worth of bike rack applications.  CDTA will use remaining funds to install bike lockers at the Rensselaer and Saratoga Rail Stations.  Lockers will have a 3-day maximum occupation, if bike and any other belongings are left in locker longer than 3 days, user will be charged $1/day and after 30 days there is no guarantee bike and/or belongings will be at the train station.  Applicants should pick up their bike racks on May 12.


1.5 Local Project Updates


1.5.1 Albany Education District Enhancement Study – Draft report is currently being reviewed by CDTC, City of Albany planning staff, St. Rose and UAlbany.  Preliminary recommendations include bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout the study area, amenities such as benches, trash receptacles and pedestrian-scaled lighting, and design guidelines to make the area more vibrant and safe. 


1.5.2 New Scotland Hamlet Master Plan – The first Study Advisory Committee was held Monday, March 7.  CDTC and Behan Planning are working on the Existing Conditions Report but because of the timing of the Local Law B vote, all study activities are on hold.


1.5.3 City of Albany Bike Share (new) – CDTC and the City will begin writing the scope in June. The intent of the study is to identify what bike sharing possibilities would be in Albany and how it would run, followed up with a signage plan.


1.6 “They just don’t get it….” – CDTC Planning Committee will revisit the issues and appropriateness of the cap on bicycle and pedestrian projects.  J. Purvis explained why there was a cap and the options which will be presented at the May Planning Committee meeting.  The task force offered feedback:

- I. Vamos pointed out that some specific funding programs have caps (i.e. Transportation Enhancement Program)

- M. Lyons suggested that projects that stay within scope should get more consideration than one that wavers; Does the cap start retroactively?  It would be difficult to re-evaluate every project on the TIP and subject to current cap.

-S. Olsen recommended that new NYS Smart Growth legislation and Complete Streets (not yet official legislation) policies be part of the discussion as well as a consideration of “magnitude of cost increase” to make the program more flexible.

-M. Harding suggested CDTC check into what other MPOs are doing.


N. Ronsvalle presented a Wall Street Journal article to the group titled “Dear Urban Cyclists: Go Play in Traffic.” The article lashes out at cyclists and recent investments in bicycle infrastructure in New York City.  The article refers to bicycle lanes as “a fibrosis… spreading through the cities of the world.” 


            - I. Vamos asserted that NYBC was hesitant to write a rebuttal to the article for two reasons: 1) limited staff and 2) the author, P. J. O’Rourke, is a known satirist and the article didn’t deserve the attention.


1.7 Other New Business

            -L. Vonderheyden announced that the Town of Berlin (Rensselaer County), as part of their Comprehensive Plan process, is considering a rail-trail connection to the Rutland rail-trail, running parallel to Rte 22 and could potentially link to the Harlem Valley rail-trail.


            -R. Leslie said the Paths 4 Bethlehem Committee are working with their local police department on a bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign. The campaign hopes to combine the rolling out of the “yield to pedestrian” bollards with education and awareness; The Bethlehem TV 18 will also show advertisements.


            -D. Odell announced that May is Bike Month and the Albany Bicycle Coalition is busily preparing for the month’s events.


            -T. Fabozzi announced that CDRPC submitted a regional climate change coordinator grant to NYSERDA and partnered with Capital District Community Gardens to deconstruct development patterns, find ways to make bicycle and pedestrian connections and create more healthy development.


            -I. Vamos announced that the NYBC annual bike summit is April 28 at 9am at the Legislative Office Building at Empire State Plaza.  The legislature will be on vacation so legislators who had previously agreed to talk about the pending Complete Streets legislation may be on vacation.


            E. Troy said that Public Health Week was wrapping up. It focused on safety and filled their Troy office window with bicycle and pedestrian safety materials including a Capital Coexist poster.


            -C. Marshall said a resident was asking about the status of the Albany County Rail Trail and J. Mearkle offered that they stay tuned for an announcement from Albany County in the next few days.


            -P. Russell suggested that CDTA bring a bus with a bike rack to local events to help educate users on how to use load/unload their bikes since it is intimidating to use them for the first time.  C. Ward pointed him towards the instructions and video on the CDTA website.


            -M. Lyons announced that the Colonie Safe Routes to School project is moving forward and purchasing a needed easement.


            -M. Harding said NSYDOT is continuing to work on the bicycle and pedestrian website and the site with have to go live initially without the interactive maps (only state bike routes). The new NSYDOT Commissioner, Joan McDonald, has been confirmed and will be briefed with proposed changes to TEP and SRTS.


            -M. Daley announced that PTNY is soliciting the idea of designating the Canalway Trail as a US Bike Route to AASHTO and Adventure Cycling.  The Cycling the Hudson Valley Guidebook is making progress, will be similar to the Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook, and should be available for purchase soon.


            -E. Tremblay explained the obstacles Cohoes is facing in the Black Bridge project on the TIP – City was ready for final design phase but needed to recreate original “as built plans” for bridge that were lost in a fire at a CSX storage facility.  The current bike/ped cap is preventing the project from moving forward.


            -M. MacKinnon announced that Niskayuna is finishing up a local project to develop Safe Routes to School routes around town.