RECORD OF MEETING
BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
DATE/TIME/PLACE: Friday, February 25, 1994, 9:00 AM - 11:00 PM, CDTC Offices
IN ATTENDANCE: John DiMura (NYS Thruway Authority), Emily H. Goodman (private citizen), Karin Lang (CDRPC), Jerry Mueller (Green City Transportation Council), Don Odell (Albany County Planning Department), Don Robertson (NYSDOT - Region 1), Paul Russell (Town of Colonie), Bert Schou (CDTA), Zimri Smith (Saratoga County Heritage Trail Committee), Steve Allocco (CDTC)
Summary of Conference Results: The bicycle/pedestrian-related results of the December New Visions conference were reviewed. There was considerable support from conference participants for the Task Force's continued efforts at developing a plan which truly "changes the rules" regarding investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Conference participants deliberated on five issues in this area:
* bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure needs
* destination treatments which would increase bicycle use
* actions to enhance intermodal connections from foot or bike (particularly to buses, but also to trains and planes)
* maintenance practices which would allow for safer bicycle and pedestrian travel
* promoting public education and awareness of the needs of and opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian travel
There was strong support for continued Task Force work on all but the last of these issues; regarding education, many conference participants felt CDTC is not the most appropriate body to conduct these efforts.
The conference findings point to four desirable products for the Task Force to develop:
1. A set of standards for bicycle and pedestrian treatment based on area, roadway and traffic characteristics (e.g., urban or rural area, traffic speeds and volumes). Ideally, all infrastructure projects pursued in the Capital District would have "add-on" components providing the appropriate accommodations prescribed by these standards.
2. A set of "pilot corridor" projects, to be pursued under future Transportation Improvement Programs as separate items rather than as "add-ons," which would illustrate the merits of investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
3. A discussion of maintenance practices which, if adopted by highway and public works agencies, would enhance the safety and comfort of bicycle and pedestrian travel.
4. A designated regional bike network, including destination treatments (such as racks or lockers) and intermodal connections, which would increase opportunities to cycle for some or all of a trip.
Beyond this list, Bert Schou volunteered to develop some bicycle/pedestrian-friendly design guidelines for local planning boards to apply to the site plan review process. This would accomplish part of the education effort needed in the Capital District -- making local governments and planners aware of the infrastructure needs of bicycle and pedestrian travel at the site level.
Proposed Work Program/Schedule for Phase Two: The draft document mailed/faxed on February 22 was discussed. There were some problems with the document's clarity; a revised version will be sent out prior to the next meeting. Particular items on the document prompted the following observations:
* Bicycle and Pedestrian Treatment Standards: It was suggested that if the State's forthcoming Highway Design Manual incorporates the Federal Highway Administration's table(s) on bicycle treatments (attached), it would be adequate and expedient to simply set forth these standards for the Capital District rather than develop parallel standards of our own. If the Task Force takes this route, it will need to ascertain from localities that they will be able to adhere to these standards as well, for while a good share of the "average" Capital District trip is on State roads, most of these trips eventually use the local system as well, and failure to have these standards applied across all jurisdictions will result in gaps in the system of bicycle facilities.
It was noted that the Task Force should be able to at least in principle agree to adopt the NYSDOT/FHWA standards at the March meeting. For example, the group could take the attached FHWA standards and stipulate that "if the NYSDOT document does not significantly alter these standards, we will use them in the Long-Range Plan as well." As such, the activity which had been scheduled for April would move up to March, May would move up to April, and March (with exception of Work Program approval) would move to May (see draft revised work program for further details).
* Designated Bike Network: The group spent some time discussing how to properly develop this network. The work of the Saratoga County Heritage Trail Committee was discussed as a model for how to define the function and placement of the network: the Committee studied where people need to travel to and from (trip origins and destinations), how they currently make these trips and how they would under ideal conditions (that is, if adequate bicycle facilities were available). Also, the Committee worked to identify public lands which could be secured and improved for trail use; the Task Force could perform a similar effort if it determines that new facilities would have to be developed in order to bridge gaps in a completely "on-street" network.
To establish this network, the group will need to spend some time defining what the network's role(s) is (are). How extensive the network is will be a function of whether it is seen as providing a few safer alternatives or, conversely, as providing levels of "coverage" and access comparable to those of the existing roadway system for automobiles.
Having representatives of all four counties participate in network development will also be important, ideally ensuring that local travel patterns and important local access points (the latter such as to major worksites, parks, shopping and educational centers) are reflected. Special efforts will be made to bring residents and/or planning professionals from Rensselaer and Schenectady County into the process, as these two counties have not been represented at Task Force meetings to date.
* Pilot Corridor Projects: The Task Force initially discussed the notion that in order to get the sort of visibility needed to make Capital District residents and government officials realize the merits of these modes of travel, there should be one pilot project developed for each county. After the meeting, one member brought up the possibility of having two pilot projects in each county -- one in an urban setting, one rural. The Task Force will have to decide whether it can flesh out this many projects in the time available (possibly by having members from each county work on proposals for their own areas).
While discussions during the course of the meeting tended to involuntarily center on bicycle travel, it was suggested during a comment on pedestrian-friendly design elements such as the median islands on State Street in downtown Albany that one or more of the pilot projects should be more explicitly pedestrian oriented.
* Maintenance Guidelines: There was little discussion of this element of the Task Force's eventual recommendations during the meeting. It was noted that ideas for these guidelines will probably come up in the process of developing the previous three products; thus, it seems that this element is best placed as the last to be pursued during Phase Two.
Possible Technical Work in Support of Phase Two
Discussions during this and previous Task Force meetings, as well as the draft work program, suggested a number of staff tasks which would give the Task Force the technical foundation it needs to develop its recommendations. In addition to collecting examples of bicycle and pedestrian plans from other cities and regions (an effort which is currently underway), the following are among the tasks which may be undertaken in anticipation of Task Force working sessions on the various elements of the recommendation set.
Task Supported: Bicycle/Pedestrian Accommodation Standards
1. Preparation of a listing of "local applications" of the FHWA (and/or NYSDOT) tables of desired bicycle treatments by roadway traffic volume, operating speed and other characteristics. For example, application of these standards might imply a statement such as "the desirable treatment for average cyclists on Balltown Road in Niskayuna is a six foot wide shoulder."
2. Evaluation of major intersections in the Capital District to determine where actions such as restricting right turns on red or providing separate pedestrian signal phases would be most beneficial.
Task Supported: Designated Bike Network
1. Preparation of a map of low-volume streets with potential for safest designation as parts of bike routes.
2. Preparation of maps of travel patterns -- city-to-city, intra-city and city-to-suburb -- particularly indicating where the shortest vehicle trips are. This would aid estimation of where latent demand for bicycle/ pedestrian travel is greatest.
3. Preparation of maps of streets with higher traffic volumes might bring out indications of stretches of roadway for which development of alternate routes are most critical.
Task Supported: Pilot Corridor Projects
1. Preparation of a map of travel patterns like #2 in the last section, but emphasizing the emergence of corridors with consistently higher numbers of shorter trips with greatest potential for conversion to bicycle/foot travel.
Task Supported: Maintenance Practices
1. Preparation/mailing of letter to highway and public works agencies asking for information on current sweeping/plowing/rehabilitation practices, frequencies. Letter would emphasize that the group is looking to see how these agencies' current resource and staffing levels could better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, rather than indicating that recommendations on reallocations or expansions of their resources for this purpose are being developed.
Task Force members should feel free to raise suggestions of other desirable technical efforts.
* CDTC to prepare clarified version of Work Program/Schedule with suggested task sequence changes. Revised version to be mailed out well in advance of next meeting; estimated mailing date March 9.
* Don Robertson (NYSDOT) to look into status of NYSDOT Highway Design Manual; to provide copy to CDTC for mailing in advance of next meeting if possible.
* Next Task Force meeting: Tuesday, March 22, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Colonie Community Center, 1653 Central Avenue (across from Lake Electronics). Tentatively set for Room 21; whether or not the room assignment changes, signs will be placed at the main entrance and along the way to the proper room.
Meeting agenda to include:
* Agreement on Phase Two work program/schedule
* Discussion of/agreement on FHWA/NYSDOT bicycle treatment standards; accept if possible.
* Discussion of possible pedestrian treatment standards
* Begin discussion of designated bike network