Bicycle and pedestrian issues task force



DATE, TIME, LOCATION: April 22, 1999, 4:15 - 5:45 PM, CDTC offices


PRESENT: Don Odell (Albany County Department of Economic Development, Conservation and Planning), Don Robertson (NYSDOT Region 1), Paul Russell (Town of Colonie Conservation Advisory Council), Bert Schou (CDTA), Ivan Vamos (New York Bicycling Coalition), Monique Wahba (City of Albany Planning Department), Paul Winkeller (New York Bicycling Coalition), Steve Allocco (CDTC)


MEETING TOPICS: Interim reprint of Mohawk-Hudson Trail map; trail maintenance survey form; attracting new participants to the Task Force; TEA-21 Transportation Enhancements Program; Capital District Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Deployment Program proposal with bike/ped implications; DMV accident data representation on CDTC's GIS/related GTSC opportunity




Interim Reprint of Mohawk-Hudson Trail Map


Steve reported that Katherine Forster had made considerable progress in resolving the details of publishing a reprint of the Map, including securing a number of cost estimates and getting a handle on the necessary logistics for preparation of edits to the text and/or the map panels. Steve also reported that CDTC's GIS specialist had prepared a new, clearer base map for the "reverse side" of the map (that is, the side not containing the individual Trail section panels).


With regard to map content, it was suggested that the trail section Watervliet has been planning should be included in the map, perhaps with a dotted "proposed" line; in addition, the extension of the trail from its west end in Rotterdam should also be represented. With regard to the former, CDTC can either include the proposed trail in the first reprint or add it to future editions (see italicized note below); as for the latter, CDTC will confirm the placement of the extension with Steve Feeney of Schenectady County Planning and illustrate it accordingly.


The group had a number of other suggestions for either corrections or additions, which CDTC will determine the best way to present.


The reminder was raised that navigation along the Trail was one of the concerns more frequently raised by Trail users during the 1996-97 survey effort; in response, it was suggested that once the new map is printed, it would be helpful to get a small quantity of unfolded maps which could be laminated and/or mounted behind plexiglass for display at kiosks and signboards along the Trail. As one example of where these signs could be mounted, the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission will be erecting kiosks at several locations in its corridor, including at Lock 7 in Niskayuna. CDTC will request that the print job include a number of unfolded copies which can be set aside for display purposes such as this.


Since the meeting, CDTC has done additional work on computer-based preparation of the map for reprinting including development of an in-house means of editing the map, so as to reduce production costs and ensure the ability to reflect changes in the trail system as they occur. Thus, given the likelihood that this first reprint run of 10,000 copies will not last for more than two years, it should be acceptable to not reflect any "proposed or planned" improvements until funding has in fact been secured for them.


Trail Maintenance Survey Form


Paul Russell investigated Trail maintenance practices in the Town of Colonie, and determined that the Town does the following:


       Checks the trail two to three times a week

       Trims trees and brush in the fall and spring

       Repairs control gates and park benches as needed

       Occasional shoulder repairs

       Bridge repairs

       Asphalt repairs

       Mows grass areas adjacent to the Trail weekly during season

       Blows leaves off the Trail daily during season

       Maintains parking areas

       Maintains signs

       Occasional drainage work (Cohoes section)


Converting these elements to a "frequency" basis might produce the following survey form:




On Other

Activity Daily Weekly Monthly Seasonally Annually Request (specify) Notes

General examination ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Trimming trees/brush ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Repairing control gates/

park benches/other installations ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Shoulder repairs ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Bridge repairs ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Asphalt repairs ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Mowing areas adjacent to Trail ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Blowing leaves off the Trail ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Maintaining parking areas ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Maintaining signs ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________

Occasional drainage work ! ! ! ! ! ! __________ __________


A full-sized survey form draft will be distributed at the June meeting.


Attracting New Participants to the Task Force


Steve reported on the CDTC review of its master mailing list, noting that the major finding was not so much that there were particular individuals whose participation should be solicited, but rather that there were several types of professions or affiliations which would be helpful to have involved in the Task Force's work, such as the following:


Advocates for the disabled Law enforcement/public safety

Chambers of commerce Neighborhood associations

Colleges and universities Pedestrian advocates

Elected officials Planning board members

Environmental advocates Real estate developers/office park operators

Highway superintendents/public works School officials

commissioners Senior citizens' groups


Covering a couple of these possibilities, it was suggested that the Schenectady Police Department's bike patrols might be a good source of a public safety representative, in addition to addressing the lack of any other Schenectady County-based participants, and that a retired NYSDOT Main Office employee known to "ride everywhere" would be a possible advocate representative. Subsequent to the meeting, Don Robertson took the representation issue up with Jim Ercolano of NYSDOT's statewide bike/ped program office, and forwarded to CDTC an e-mail from Jim with the names of a few additional prospects.


This said, perhaps it would be desirable for the people on the mailing list to review the above list of "person types" with an eye toward identifying people they know who might be willing to represent these perspectives on the Task Force.


TEA-21 Transportation Enhancements Program


Steve distributed the CDTC staff-developed basis for evaluating Transportation Enhancements Program (TEP) proposals. He noted that while this basis still needed to be formally approved by the Planning Committee at its May 5 meeting, that group was comfortable with the basic approach set forth in the handout; in the interest of accountability, they wanted to see some clarification of how, for example, a proposal might get ten points for "size of matching share" as opposed to five, or two, or none.


Based on the number of inquiries, concept discussions and other contacts CDTC has had regarding the TEP to date, it would be very surprising if less than 15-20 proposals end up being submitted in the CDTC region; in fact, there does exist some possibility that there will be far more than 20.


The evaluation basis was approved by the Planning Committee on May 5, and has since been shared with NYSDOT and the other New York State Metropolitan Planning Organizations; early indications are that CDTC's basis could end up being a model for statewide application.


Capital District ITS Deployment Program Proposal


This proposal was briefly discussed to give the Task Force a "heads up" on a pursuit in another programmatic area with potential bike/ped implications. (Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, is in a nutshell the systemic application of technology and human resources to transportation system management.) In a joint effort, NYSDOT Region 1, CDTA and CDTC prepared an application to USDOT's ITS Deployment Program for a project which would integrate several existing and planned ITS installations so as to create a whole whose benefit which is more than that of the sum of its parts.


Among the elements of the proposal, called ITS Faster, is the coordination and interconnection of signals in several arterial corridors; this can provide more opportunities for protected pedestrian crossings. As Page 96 of the New Visions Plan noted:


"Rather than optimizing signal timing for maximum traffic flow, signal system design can be developed that allows for efficient traffic progression at travel speeds that are compatible with pedestrian, bike and transit movements. This may provide for a win/win outcome. For example, assume PM peak hour travel speeds on Central Avenue between Wolf Road and New Karner Road (including stops) average 10-15 MPH. Perhaps efficiencies gained through intelligent signal interconnection (emphasis added) could be used to improve traffic speeds for through traffic to close to 30 MPH. Alternatively, technology could be used to provide through traffic with a 20 MPH progression pattern -- still a clear improvement -- while providing a certain "comfort level" for pedestrians, cyclists, turning vehicles and bus movements into and out of turnouts."


In addition to potentially "freeing up time" for pedestrian phases at signalized intersections, ITS Faster will increase the tendency for vehicles to platoon (that is, to more frequently move as a group and less in a random distribution), making traffic more predictable to pedestrians and increasing the frequencies at which acceptable gaps in traffic will occur for pedestrians crossing midblock and at uncontrolled intersections.. This will reduce the probabilities of motor vehicle-pedestrian crashes. ITS Faster also includes traveler information services (including transit schedule and status information and construction project information) which will benefit people who bicycle or walk for all or part of their trips.


The proposal states that as part of the effort to ensure that ITS Faster benefits as many stakeholders in the transportation system as possible, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues Task Force will be regularly briefed on ITS Faster and on Capital District ITS activities in general, with any Task Force's concerns and/or recommendations for making ITS Faster as beneficial as possible to cyclists and pedestrians relayed back to the project team.


The ITS Faster proposal was endorsed by the CDTC Planning Committee at its May 5 meeting.


DMV Accident Data Representation on CDTC's GIS/Related GTSC Opportunity


Paul Winkeller, formally of the Albany Service Corps and currently working with the New York Bicycling Coalition, discussed a contract opportunity set forth under the auspices of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) under which pilot "community safety campaigns" would be funded in three communities ("communities" defined for the purposes of this program as counties). Among the elements of the safety campaigns could be accident tracking using geographic information systems (GIS); it was noted that this fits nicely with CDTC's having recently received GIS-based accident data from DMV, which can be used for the sort of determination of high bicycle/pedestrian accident locations suggested in the February meeting. Should any communities in the Capital District be interested in pursuing the GTSC opportunity, there could be the potential for partnering with CDTC.




1.      CDTC staff to continue working on edits to Mohawk-Hudson Trail map for interim reprint.

2.      CDTC staff to prepare trail maintenance survey form based on Paul Russell's investigations, and distribute form at next meeting.

3.      Mailing list asked to review list of "potential new member types" for prospects.

4.      CDTC staff to continue development of fact sheets on Task Force mission and regional map development effort.

5.      Next Meeting: Thursday, June 10, 1999, 4:00 to 6:00 PM, CDTC offices, 5 Computer Drive West, Colonie.