RECORD OF MEETING
BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
DATE/TIME/PLACE: Thursday, June 23, 1994, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Colonie Community Center
IN ATTENDANCE: Brad Birge (CDRPC), John DiMura (NYS Thruway Authority), Emily H. Goodman (citizen member), Jerry Mueller (Green City Transportation Council), Don Odell (Albany County Planning Department), Don Robertson (NYSDOT - Region 1), Zim Smith (Saratoga County Heritage Trail Committee), Ivan Vamos (Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council), Russell Ziemba (Rensselaer County Environmental Action), Steve Allocco (CDTC)
Note: All meeting handouts referred to in this report are attached for those who did not attend.
Bike/Rail Meeting: The minutes of the May 18 meeting between bicycle advocates and railroad representatives were distributed. As summarized in the "Other Issues" section of the May 17 Task Force meeting minutes, the purpose of the meeting was to "clear the air" as to (a)the directions in which bicycle advocates may be looking with regard to possible rail-to-trail conversions and (b)the rail industry's perspective on such conversions and on the notion of shared rights-of-way (within which both rail and trail activity would take place). See handout for details.
Status of "Making Your Community More Bicycle- and Pedestrian-Friendly": Brad has received some comments on the draft; there is a little more time for input on additional changes, with the aim of group acceptance of the document at the July meeting. The document can be distributed by CDTC as an informational reference, with "for more information, call Steve Allocco at CDTC" at the end to give readers a place to turn for examples of where and how the ideas indicated have already been pursued.
The document should be approved by the CDTC Planning Committee before it gets mailed out as a "CDTC document;" if the Task Force decides it is comfortable with the draft at the July meeting, there is adequate time to mail it to Planning Committee members for them to review prior to their August meeting.
Performance Measures: A listing of possible additional performance measures was distributed and discussed. Taking into consideration the issues of both (a)whether some items are truly measurable and (b)suitability for making the group's case, the group decided that measures 3 through 7 on the handout should be developed for use in its evaluations and, perhaps, for overall evaluation of future regional transportation plans and the "state of the region" regarding bicycle- and pedestrian-friendliness. Discussions of the environmental, economic and social impacts of bicycle and pedestrian travel noted that somewhere in the New Visions process, the point should be raised that these modes of travel provide for a number of benefits which while not easily quantified are both important and largely unique to human-powered travel.
Planning and Investment Principles: Part of what the New Visions process is requesting of the Task Forces is that they articulate some basic principles for better incorporating consideration of their subject areas into the transportation planning and investment processes. CDTC staff prepared a list of six principles for member discussion, drawing from past meetings and the "Making Your Community More..." document, in an attempt to capture the group's basic ideas. Task Force discussion resulted in the revised list attached.
Designated Bicycle Network: The Task Force began development of the Designated Bicycle Network (DBN) by considering two handouts: one entitled "Possible Significance/Benefits of Priority Bicycle Network Status," which answers the question of why this network is being developed; and one listing some "Suggested Destinations," which might represent the "dots" to connect via the network. These and other items raised during this work follow, grouped by issue.
1. Why Prepare a DBN?
In short, the DBN is being developed is to establish a long-term bicycle system goal, giving people involved in various areas of transportation (general planning, infrastructure, traffic safety, etc.) a sense of which streets are or can be (with proper accommodations) key bicycle facilities and thus merit some special consideration in their respective areas. Holding these facilities to a higher standard of maintenance or overall physical condition, for example, would reflect the fact that cyclists are more sensitive to pavement condition than cars are; thus, encouraging people to use their bicycles instead of their cars will require extra measures to ensure their safety and comfort.
In reviewing the "Suggested Destinations" listing, the group added a number of individual sites (e.g., Latham Circle Mall) and localities (e.g., Hoosick Falls) along with overall categories of places to be considered (e.g, high schools). Not all of these destinations would require that the group identify direct accesses to them on the network; rather, for some, the goal would be simply for the network to get bicycles reasonably close to them with levels of safety and comfort exceeding current conditions. The working list of destinations reflecting the group's discussions is attached.
The group began marking the working maps to reflect existing (complete), underway and proposed projects. Particular success was realized in proposing projects for Saratoga County and the Hudson River corridor. It will be difficult to send out any sort of interim map for member review; thus, it is advisable for members to concentrate on developing their own lists or maps of facilities to include in the network. (See "Action Items" for likely areas of emphasis.)
3. "Designated Bicycle Network" versus "Regional Bicycle Network"
In considering what to add to the network, group members should bear in mind that proposals for the designated bicycle network itself as defined here should be existing streets. The parties noted earlier (planning, infrastructure, traffic safety) will be concerned with the identification of streets as important bicycle facilities for the purposes of maintenance and rehabilitation decisions. Off-street facilities should also be indicated, but primarily for the purposes of defining connections to the rest of the system. They should not be expected to become "part of the roadway system" or to receive any special attention beyond that given them by whichever agency is ordinarily responsible for their maintenance. Perhaps a better way of defining what is on the map is that the on-street facilities will be the designated bicycle network, while the full set of on- and off-street facilities would constitute the regional bicycle network.
4. Consider More Stringent Treatments or Alternate Routes
Another consideration in continuing development of the network is that in some cases, the route desired for a particular travel path may involve streets upon which bicycle travel would be uncomfortable due to high motor vehicle traffic volumes and/or speeds. A more accommodating standard for improvement, such as FHWA's Group B/C Cyclist (less skilled adults, children), might be in order. Alternatively, in the denser urban/suburban areas the group should consider parallel routes carrying less traffic. One example for the major city in each county follows:
City(County) THIS instead of THIS
Albany(Albany) New Scotland Ave Western Ave
Troy(Rensselaer) Peoples Ave Hoosick St
Saratoga Springs(Saratoga) Excelsior Ave Routes 9/50
Schenectady(Schenectady) Front St Erie Blvd
Some alternate routes may require detours of a mile or more; thus, the notion of alternate routes should be balanced with the need to avoid adding too much additional travel distance.
5. The "Minimum Coverage" Principle, and "Special Cases"
One additional point raised on network development was that the group should work towards some "minimum coverage" of the region. This would be necessary because, for example, all the major destinations and popular travel routes may be accounted for but there could still be several hamlets or even fairly large rural areas with no coverage at all. One approach to take in providing for minimum coverage might be to assume a need for a larger-scale "grid" pattern of a few north-south and east-west routes covering an area such as, using the attached map, the towns of Eastern-Southeastern Rensselaer County. As the map illustrates, identifying routes on the basis of likely use or connection of major destinations alone (solid lines) in the seven labelled towns would leave much of Grafton, Poestenkill, Berlin, Nassau and Stephentown without any relatively "local" access. The dotted lines reflect an attempt to provide some additional coverage of these towns; even on these facilities, poor lines of sight, high speeds, poor (on some facilities) pavement conditions and a general lack of motorist awareness of the possibility of cyclists on the road suggest that using a traffic volume basis alone for design of bicycle facilities would be woefully inadequate. Some sort of "special case" designation may be in order for such facilities, with design to a higher standard (e.g., bike lanes or paved 5' shoulders as minimums).
* CDTC to investigate possible means of getting additional public input on Designated Bicycle Network.
* CDTC to determine typical costs of some treatments included in "Making Your Community More Bicycle- and Pedestrian-Friendly" document.
* Task Force members, if they desire, may forward additional comments/suggestions on "Making Your Community More Bicycle- and Pedestrian-Friendly" ASAP to Brad Birge (v:393-1715; fx:393-6081).
* Task Force members to continue consideration of possible additions to Designated Bicycle Network. If you cannot attend the next meeting (July 14; see below), please pass on ideas for additions to CDTC (v:458-2161; fx:459-2155).
* Next Task Force meeting: Thursday, July 14, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Colonie Community Center, 1653 Central Avenue (across from Lake Electronics). Room assignment to be announced in future mailing.
Meeting agenda to include:
* Continued development of Designated Bicycle Network
* Initial discussion of Pilot Project(s) (time permitting)
Draft Planning and Investment Principles
Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues Task Force
One requirement of the New Visions effort is that the Task Forces articulate some principles for better incorporating their subject areas into the transportation planning and investment processes. The following six principles were culled from group discussions; the list would be sufficient to meet this requirement if the group concurs with it:
1. Cycling and walking should be recognized as equal partners with motor vehicles in the transportation system; project development should facilitate expansion of cycling and walking in the system.
2. Better accommodation of cycling and walking will enhance mobility for those Capital Region residents with the fewest travel choices.
3. Better accommodation of cycling and walking can enhance transit use by making it more accessible.
4. Possible bicycle/pedestrian-related improvements should be considered from the perspective of developing a system -- not just based on whether a particular facility is currently used.
5. Barriers to bicycle and pedestrian travel can often be removed quickly and inexpensively.
6. Cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable to travel surface conditions and motor vehicles; maintenance practices should insulate them from danger.
The overall theme of these principles is as follows:
Encouraging bicycle and pedestrian travel is the most socially, economically and environmentally responsible approach we can take to improving the performance of our transportation system.
Capital District revised June 24, 1994
DRAFT PLANNING AND INVESTMENT PRINCIPLES
BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
OVERALL THEME: Encouraging bicycle and pedestrian travel is the most socially, economically and environmentally responsible approach we can take to improving the performance of our transportation system.
1. Cycling and walking should be recognized as equal partners with motor vehicles in the transportation system; project development should facilitate expansion of cycling and walking in the system. In the Capital District, more people commute to work by bicycle or on foot than by using transit. Aside from sidewalks in the downtown areas and a small number of paths or bike lanes, this is without any direct investment in bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure. Investments in new bicycle and pedestrian facilities will tap the latent demand for travel via these modes, encouraging people who would travel these ways "if it was safe" to do so.
2. Better accommodation of cycling and walking will enhance mobility for those Capital Region residents with the fewest travel choices. Many Capital Region residents either choose not to or cannot afford to own a car. Not providing reasonable opportunities for bicycle or pedestrian travel limits their mobility by making them dependent on transit schedules (and coverage), taxis or friends. In addition, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations can eliminate the dependence on cars in suburban areas where subdivision designs and the local street networks combine to effectively require car travel for all trip purposes.
3. Better accommodation of cycling and walking can enhance transit use by making it more accessible. People are willing to travel on foot for a short distance to bus stops. However, this willingness is reduced when the trip to or from the bus stop is uncomfortable. Wide, paved shoulders and/or sidewalks connecting residential areas to bus routes will make bus travel more attractive. Cyclists would be more inclined to bike to bus stops if there were safe shoulders or bike lanes as well as (a)secure bike storage facilities at the stops and/or (b)bike racks on the buses.
4. Possible bicycle/pedestrian-related improvements should be considered from the perspective of developing a system -- not just based on whether a particular facility is currently used. As was observed at the first New Visions conference, "bicyclists (and pedestrians) are not stupid." If they feel that a facility is not comfortable or safe, they will not use it. Still, this facility might be along a potentially well-used bicycle/pedestrian travel route. We should look to remedy the barriers to bicycle and pedestrian use along facilities which would combine to form very attractive routes for both local and regional travel.
5. Barriers to bicycle and pedestrian travel can often be removed quickly and inexpensively. Whether by smoothing over a rough shoulder with some blacktop or by retiming a traffic signal to allow pedestrians (and wheelchairs) adequate time to cross a busy intersection, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations are often low cost, particularly when compared to even the simplest roadway project. Both as "add-ons" to existing highway projects and as free-standing efforts, we should be finding ways to quickly remove some of the main barriers to these modes of travel.
6. Cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable to travel surface conditions and motor vehicles; maintenance practices should insulate them from danger. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be maintained to a higher standard than motor vehicle facilities typically are. Broken glass, loose gravel, snow and ice are common hazards; more frequent sweeping, plowing, rehabilitation (repaving) and other practices should be the rule in maintaining the facilities we have and any new facilities developed in the future.
Along with proper maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, we need to heighten motorist awareness of cyclists and pedestrians. Crosswalks and bike lanes should be clearly signed and marked. Pedestrian phases at busy intersections (and near transit stops) would provide additional protection. Separate bicycle stop lines at intersections would increase visibility along with giving cyclists a chance to "pull away" ahead of turning vehicles.
DESIGNATED BICYCLE NETWORK
SOME SUGGESTED DESTINATIONS FOR CONNECTION/ACCESS IMPROVEMENT
Corporations Park (Scotia)
Empire State Plaza
G.E. - KAPL
G.E. - Main
Rensselaer Technology Park
State Office Campus
Major Shopping Areas
Clifton Country Mall
Colonie Center/Northway Mall
Latham Circle Mall
Rotterdam Square Mall
Saratoga Mall/Wilton Mall
Major Recreational Sites
Cherry Plain State Park
Grafton Lakes State Park
Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
Moreau State Park
Saratoga Battlefield Park
Saratoga Spa State Park
Thacher State Park
Urban Cultural Parks
Albany County Airport
Amtrak Stations (Rensselaer, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady)
Greyhound/Trailways Stations (Albany, Schenectady)
Bike Route 5
Hudson River Greenway routes to south (NY 9J, NY 144)
Hudson River Route 4 (to Glens Falls)
NY 9N to Luzerne/Adirondack Park
US 20 to west
US 9/NY 32 to Glens Falls
Major "Barrier" Spots
Balltown Road, Route 7 to Glenridge Road, Niskayuna
Fuller Road from Western Avenue to Central Avenue, Albany/Colonie/Guilderland
Krumkill Road from Route 85 to the Krum Kill, in the Russell Road area, and from Font Grove to Johnston Roads, Albany/Bethlehem/New Scotland
Maple Avenue from Freeman's Bridge to Glenridge Roads, Glenville
New Scotland Avenue from the Thruway Bridge to the Normanskill, Albany
Non-limited access facilities where bicycle/pedestrian use is prohibited OR where it is not prohibited but officially discouraged
River crossings (Hudson & Mohawk)
Route 155 from Central Avenue to Western Avenue, Albany/Colonie/Guilderland
Route 50 from Broadway across I-87, Saratoga Springs
Route 7, Colonie/Niskayuna
Western Avenue (Route 20) from Church Road to Fuller Road, Guilderland
Outlying Small Urban or Otherwise Built-Up Areas (Rural "Hubs")
Averill Park/Sand Lake
South Glens Falls