RECORD OF MEETING
BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
DATE/TIME/PLACE: Thursday, June 15, 1995, 5:30 - 7:00 PM, Colonie Community Center
IN ATTENDANCE: Brad Birge (CDRPC), Emily H. Goodman (New York Bicycling Coalition), Don Odell (Albany County Planning Department), Don Robertson (NYSDOT - Region 1), Bert Schou (CDTA), Ivan Vamos (Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council/NYBC), Steve Allocco (CDTC)
Note: Any handouts referenced in the record are attached for those who did not attend the meeting.
The goal of the meeting was to catch Task Force members up on CDTC staff technical activities and solicit their inputs with regard to the "content, look and feel" of the Technical Report.
Followup on "Sidewalk Maps" Idea: At the April meeting, discussion of the difficulty in prioritizing areas for pedestrian treatments raised the suggestion that as one starting point, strategic connections between existing sidewalks to each other or to more logical termini could be identified from sidewalk maps which local public works agencies might have on file. CDTC looked into this idea; to date, early indications were that some the smaller cities (e.g., Cohoes, Mechanicville) had such maps available. Exploration of this question continues; at a minimum, the Task Force Technical Report should contain a discussion of using this sort of inventory, whether in map or tabular form, as a guide for answering the question of "where to begin." (see also "Places to Start" on Page 2)
Status of "Make Your Community..." Brochure: Between 800 and 900 copies of the map have been distributed; a second printing will likely take place when supply dwindles to a critical level.
Field Study on Bike/Ped Travel: It was observed that while the "Estimates of Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel in the Capital District" handout distributed at the April 27 meeting gives a general idea of the overall presences of cycling and walking in the region's transportation system, it does not provide insights on these modes of travel "on the road," at a particular location or in a general area. In response, it was noted that CDTC and NYSDOT are getting underway with a study intended to address this "data gap." CDTC and NYSDOT will be collecting information in the field on bicycle and pedestrian traffic, so as to get some numbers on volumes on bike/ped facilities and in the general mix of traffic. In addition to eventually being able to make comments to the effect of "five percent of rush hour travel into downtown Albany is made by bicyclists or pedestrians," it is expected that a "flow map" of sorts -- a map of pedestrian and bike volumes along major facilities -- will be developed as a result of the in-field data collection. This study will benefit from CDTC's existing signalized intersection traffic count database, which includes morning and afternoon peak period pedestrian flows at the 400 busiest intersections in the Capital District. In addition to "number" information, CDTC will be taking pictures at a variety of locations to illustrate (1)the problems faced by cyclists and pedestrians and (2)some examples of local bike/pedestrian-friendly facility design.
Status of Albany Main Line Abandonment Discussions: As has been noted in past meetings, CP Rail recently initiated abandonment proceedings for the "Albany Main Line," a 26-mile stretch of rail running from the Port of Albany/Kenwood Yards to Delanson. CDTC convened a group of potentially affected public agencies and interested members of the public to discuss what the future use of this rail corridor might be. The general sentiment has been that the corridor should be preserved for transportation purposes of some kind, but there are a variety of ideas for what those transportation purposes would be, ranging from use as a bike/hike trail to continued railway use to development of an automobile route. The group continues to meet to discuss this question, along with the other relevant issues (e.g., how to purchase the right-of-way).
In addition to facilitating the working group meetings on this matter, CDTC staff has been developing estimates of the cost of converting the right-of-way to a bike-hike trail and contacting experts in the field of trail conversion (e.g., the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy) for information on available financing tools. CDTC will continue to keep the Task Force apprised of the progress of this work; in addition, Ivan Vamos joined the group at its July 5 meeting's discussions to lend his expertise to the proceedings. At that meeting, discussion continued on the questions of (1)who was in the position to purchase the property and (2)once purchased, what its best use would be. More exploration of the background matters attendant to these questions is needed; the next meeting of the working group will be held in early August.
Update on Costs of Group B/C Cyclist Accommodations on the Priority Bicycle Network: At the February meeting, an estimated cost of $72-79 million was presented for upgrading the Priority Bicycle Network to "Group A" standards. However, it was noted at the April meeting that as the "Group A" designation probably applies to no more than five percent of the 100 million or so people in the U.S. who own bicycles, accommodations to this level were probably not likely to encourage many shifts from auto travel to cycling.
To present a more accurate picture of what level of accommodation would really be necessary to give the average cyclist the opportunity to ride on the Network, CDTC staff revisited the cost assessment using Group B/C standards. The resulting cost estimate is considerably higher: on the order of about $118-129 million. CDTC staff proposed that this not be presented as "the price tag for the Task Force's recommendations," but rather as a comparative reference -- a table or graphic could be included in the report comparing the dollar amounts needed to resolve all motor vehicle congestion and bicycle travel problems, the "maximum potential benefits" of these investments in terms of fuel and delay savings, pollution reductions and other indices, and relative cost-effectiveness CDTC will pull these numbers together; the point they would ideally make is in regard to a greater cost-effectiveness of investing in bicycle accommodation.
"Places to Start" -- Early Implementation Locations: It has been noted in past discussions that the Priority Network, the "Make Your Community..." brochure and other Task Force products identify a considerable number of steps which can be taken across the region to improve the bicycle and pedestrian travel environments, such that "where to begin" could be a daunting question. As a possible means of prioritizing some areas, CDTC staff developed a series of tables listing "early action" candidates (with problems reported) by county, based on past CDTC outreach efforts and Task Force discussions. This sort of information might lend itself well to being presented on a map; as an illustration of how this might look, a map from CDTC's Route 50 Traffic Study (entitled "1990 Deficiencies) was distributed.
A few additional locations, or extensions of locations identified in the draft tables, were raised in group discussions, including the following:
* Albany Shaker Road, Colonie (discontinuous shoulders, hostile drivers)
* Everett Road
* Route 9 by Siena College (no sidewalks)
* Sand Creek Road near Wolf Road (sidewalks come within one block of Wolf Road, then end)
* Western Avenue (Route 20) outside Albany (could extend defined section out to Route 146 or so)
These locations will be added to the inventory, along with any others passed along to CDTC prior to finalization of the report in September.
Technical Report Content, Layout: It was noted at the April meeting that the Task Force has considerable latitude with regard to the final content and look of the Technical Report. Thus, the Task Force has the opportunity to put a wide range of ideas on the table by listing them in the Technical Report. Several concept ideas or "areas of emphasis" were suggested in response to this note, including the following:
* Wolf Road area: Given the difficulty of traveling within this corridor by bike or on foot, could a trolley or loop bus route (with stops along Wolf Road in either direction) be considered?
* Balance of Pedestrian and Bicycle Concerns: Much of what the Task Force has developed in the way of specifics deals with bicycles. However, between "exclusively walking" and "walking to bus stops" (or to cars), pedestrian travel is probably as much as 50 times greater a presence in the system than bike travel (10 percent of trips versus 0.2 percent, respectively). The report needs to present more information and guidance on pedestrian needs, connections to transit, travel between neighborhoods, and the like.
* Importance of Providing a Bicycle/Pedestrian Travel Environment which is Safe and Appears So: The perception of danger is a significant deterrent to bicycle or pedestrian travel. Even if a road meets some guideline, whether it is "FHWA Group B/C" or whatever other reference is used, people will still not bike or walk on/along it if it does not seem safe. In some cases, it will require overaccommodation to present the actuality and appearance of safety; consideration should be given to taking such steps at the "next level," particularly in high-demand travel corridors.
* Education: Even though it is arguably not a CDTC function to conduct cyclist/pedestrian/driver education, the report should remind readers of the notion of education as a step toward reducing dangerous behavior.
* Right Turn on Red Prohibitions: This may be an appropriate tool for "blanket applications" in areas such as downtowns. Right turns on red (RTORs) often follow rolling rather than full stops; in addition, even where the full stop is made, the driver is usually concentrating on looking to the left for a gap in oncoming motor vehicle traffic, rather than on looking at the crosswalk in front of or to the right of his/her vehicle, where a pedestrian or cyclist may be. Particularly in busy areas where oncoming motor vehicle traffic commands this sort of attention, RTOR prohibitions would reduce potential bike/ped conflicts with cars in addition to increasing the overall speeds of bike/walk trips.
With regard to report layout, the idea of having the Report be a free-standing guide was repeated; toward this end, CDTC is exploring several ways of making it as approachable and positive (the latter in terms of conveying a "we can do this" feeling) as possible. The product of these explorations, a second draft document including the "action items," is tentatively scheduled to be sent out to the Task Force by Wednesday, August 15 at the latest, and hopefully by Friday, August 11.
Miscellaneous Items: Ivan reported on two items. First, the Albany Service Corps (possibly with support from NYSDOT and other "road owners") will be marking road shoulders along a Greenway loop route from Albany down to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (Route 23 between Hudson and Catskill) and back to Albany via Bike Route 9. The plan is for the shoulder markings to be spaced such that cyclists will be able to see the next marker along the route from the marker they are at. Passonno Paints will be supplying the paint needed for the markings; this public/private partnership is a good example of the sort of leveraging of public dollars which will become increasingly important in the "do more with less" fiscal environment expected for the coming years.
Ivan also noted a recent Times-Union special section on the Colonie Centennial celebration. Two elements of this celebration, a bike race and parade on Wolf Road (at separate times, of course), could present opportunities to highlight the potential benefits of making Wolf Road and other major roads in the Town more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.
* CDTC to continue work on draft technical report. Draft should be mailed out by August 15.
* Next Task Force meeting: Wednesday, August 23, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Colonie Community Center, 1653 Central Avenue (across from Lake Electronics). Meeting to concentrate on discussion of draft technical report.
TO: Members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues Task Force
Other Interested Parties
FROM: Steve Allocco
DATE: July 6, 1995
RE: June 15 Meeting Summary; Details on Next Meeting
Enclosed please find a summary of the June 15 meeting. The next meeting of the Task Force will be held on Wednesday, August 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Colonie Community Center, 1653 Central Avenue, Colonie (across from Lake Electronics). At this meeting, we will continue to discuss the draft Technical Report; a working draft of the full report should get out to you by August 15. In the meantime, please feel free to call, fax or write if any questions or comments come up.
Enclosure(s, for those not in attendance 6/15)