RECORD OF MEETING
BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
DATE/TIME/PLACE: October 21, 1993, 9:00-11:00 AM, CDTC Offices
IN ATTENDANCE: Brad Birge (CDRPC), John DiMura (NYS Thruway Authority), Barbara Goldstein (NYS Department of State), Don Odell (Albany County Planning), Jeff Olson (NYSDOT - Central Office Planning), Luke Rich (NYS Senate Committee on Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development) Don Robertson (NYSDOT - Region 1 Planning), Paul Russell (Town of Colonie Department of Environmental Services), Joann Ryan (City of Albany Planning Department), Bert Schou (CDTA), Maggie Vinciguerra (Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council), Steve Allocco (CDTC)
The objective for the meeting was to assemble the "raw material" needed for the December conference's white paper. A brief discussion of the conference agenda and goals framed the context in which the paper would be presented; a shell of the paper was then used as a "workbook" for identification of points to be made.
The first of three "New Visions" conferences will be held on Tuesday, December 14, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Desmond Hotel on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie. The aim is to bring together as many members of the nine task forces as possible, along with other interested public agency staff and the general public, to discuss the range of issues being considered, what the region's priorities should be, and any other directions in which the task forces should be looking.
Mechanics: Each task force will present its background paper, and then a series of small group discussions will take place to hammer out priority lists to bring back to the full conference. The small groups will consist of mixes of task force members -- for example, there will not be a "Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force" table but, rather, Bicycle/Pedestrian group members will be sitting with Infrastructure, Urban Issues, Expressway and other task force members and identifying the conflicts and similarities in their priorities. By the day's end, attendees should have a good indication of what the emerging regional priorities are and how their own task forces' efforts should address these priorities.
Rather than CDTC staffers, the conference plan calls for the papers to be presented by task force members. It was proposed and agreed to that Don Odell would present the Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force paper. In the remaining two meetings, the group will reach agreement on the paper's contents and give Don some direction on points to emphasize in his presentation.
Administrative Notes: A flyer providing additional information on the conference will be sent out with the draft December paper; as it will indicate, the cost of attending the conference is $20, and includes lunch, printed materials (including copies of all task force papers) and morning and afternoon refreshment breaks. A limited number of scholarships covering the attendance fee are available; those interested in getting a scholarship should write a short (2-3 sentences is adequate) letter to CDTC requesting one and explaining the circumstances.
It is expected that between 200 and 250 people will attend the conference; conference space is limited to 250 registrants, and all conference attendees must be pre-registered (there will be no walk-in registrations).
The group worked to fill in a shell of the report, recalling points raised in past meetings and referring to lists of issues and possible policy/programmatic options developed in these meetings. Following the style of the draft Urban Issues Task Force report included in the October 4 mailing, the group identified a number of elements to include in the report. The draft report (to be transmitted soon after this summary) will reflect this work, as will the series of bullet lists labelled "Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force Overheads," the latter of which will be used during the conference to highlight the group's main ideas. The remainder of this section briefly discusses the philosophies or themes the group set forth in trying to develop each part of the report.
Overarching philosophy: The group's discussions suggested a working principle of educating Capital District municipalities as to the great potential benefits of bicycle/pedestrian-related investments, a good number of which would not even require public expenditure (developer-provided bicycle and pedestrian amenities, for example). Using examples from other areas, the case should be made that we can achieve meaningful reductions in single-occupant vehicle travel and enhance the overall quality of life in the Capital District. Also, we need to point out attributes of the region which are either conducive to promotion of bicycling and walking or are challenges to address, such as the following:
* the high percentage of all peak hour trips which are five miles or less in length (the generally accepted limit in identifying candidates for conversion from private auto to bicycle use). On a related note,
* the location of a number of major employment, educational and shopping areas in relatively close proximity to dense residential areas, raising the potential for a significant increase in cycling/walking through modest-cost, small-scale strategic improvements
* growing traffic congestion's serving as a disincentive to single-occupant vehicle use
* overcoming the notion that cycling and walking as forms of transportation are "good weather" modes usable for only a small part of each year
* meeting the needs of an aging population requiring special consideration with regard to pedestrian travel in particular -- adequate crossing time at intersections, better quality walking areas, and more direct walking routes to shopping areas and services, for example
The group has some "pilot corridor" concepts which may serve as important early examples of how to use strategic, relatively low-cost applications of the principles to demonstrate the value of investing in bicycle/pedestrian facilities and programs.
Introductory Points: The primary sentiment appeared to be that the Capital District needs to bring cycling and walking into play as real components of the transportation system, given the reality that not everyone wants to or can use a car. The group appears to want to emphasize the simple logic of enhancing the bicycle/pedestrian environment, pointing out the cost-effectiveness of such investments, the way in which doing so would benefit our aging population and promote the social goal of equal access. It was established by the group that as it is dealing with the most undersupported modes of travel in the Capital District, it may be necessary to be a bit "pushy" or to otherwise employ the "hard sell" approach to get the other task forces to recognize the importance of more thorough consideration of bicycle/pedestrian issues and possible accommodations.
Current Conditions: As just noted, these are the two most undersupported modes of travel in the Capital District. Perhaps as a consequence, there is not a lot of reliable data to use in presenting a quantitative picture of the bicycle/pedestrian environment. As such, it is arguably the group's prerogative to skimp on a discussion of current conditions, instead using the present environment -- in general terms -- as a reference in a "today is bad, 2015 will be worse due to X and Y" vein of reasoning. The current conditions discussion of the report thus will present the basic material suggested in the handout -- Census journey-to-work information and a brief inventory of major bicycle/pedestrian facilities -- necessary to "set up" this sort of argument. Information on urban corridor motor vehicle travel speeds should also be presented to summarize the performance of what is, in essence, "the competition" (single-occupant motor vehicle travel).
Year 2015 Trend Conditions: Again without much to use along the lines of numbers, the group emphasized presenting its view of the future from a quality of life standpoint. With development trends continuing as they are expected to, growing congestion and the ongoing development of residential and employment areas in a manner that effectively isolates them from bicycle and pedestrian access (at least to the degree that these are no longer safe, comfortable means of local travel) would further expand the Capital District without expanding significantly the opportunities available for cyclist and pedestrian circulation and use of available recreational, shopping and cultural amenities. Building up the Capital District has often served to either cut some people off from opportunities or otherwise simply perpetuate the anti-bicycle/pedestrian travel environment.
Bicycle/Pedestrian Issues for the RTP to Address: The group was in agreement that perhaps the most effective presentation of an issues list to the conference would come from consolidating the entire list of 11 suggested issues into five or so to be put on the conference overhead transparencies. As part of this consolidation, the thrust of Issue 10, "inadequate system of bicycle/pedestrian facilities," would be changed to "need for a continuous network of bicycle/pedestrian facilities" to emphasize a retrofitting and "elimination of barriers" approach; otherwise, the old wording could be interpreted as emphasizing creation of new facilities (which in the best case would come about at a very gradual rate) instead of working to appropriately accommodate cyclists and pedestrians on the existing street and highway system. It was also suggested that intermodal linkages be highlit. A first-cut consolidation of the remaining issues will be indicated in this section of the draft report.
Initial List of Policy/Programmatic Options
As the meeting reached its end, the group was just beginning to review the 5 possible policies and 13 possible programs detailed in the list. Five options (two of which would be consolidated) were early "likely prospects" to include, and are indicated in the draft report. It will be necessary to spend some time at the next meeting continuing "initial group consideration" of these candidates and identifying a group to present at the conference. Two modifications/additions of candidates were set forth:
Program 10: expand with second sentence "Also, provide for linkage with town-to-town transit."
Program 14 (new): Connect local plans and improvements to major regional/statewide tourism initiatives.
In addition to the meeting handouts, Bert Schou provided a copy of an article on bikeways in the October issue of the American Planning Association's Planning magazine; it presents a good capsule summary of the particulars of bikeway design, current examples of bikeway plans newly adopted or under development, and the costs and benefits of bikeways found in recent evaluations. A copy of this article is enclosed along with some thoughts Bert has on the contents of the Master Plan CDTC is in the midst of developing.
* Members to review October 21 meeting handouts, particularly "menus" of issues and policies/programs, to identify any other points to be raised in background paper.
* Next meeting: Thursday, November 7, 1993, 3:00-5:00 PM, CDTC Offices, 5 Computer Drive West, Colonie.
* Proposed Meeting Agenda/Sequence:
- brief summary discussion of draft report
- completing development of policy/program option list
- return to discussion of paper, overall, and overheads