RECORD OF MEETING
BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ISSUES TASK FORCE
DATE/TIME/PLACE: Wednesday, October 12, 1994, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Colonie Community Center
IN ATTENDANCE: Brad Birge (CDRPC), Alicia Fernandez (Niagara Mohawk/SUNY Albany), Emily H. Goodman (citizen member), Katrina Neugebauer (Troy Architectural Program), Bob Kirker (Town of Wilton Highway Committee), Don Odell (Albany County Planning Department), Jeff Olson (NYSDOT), Don Robertson (NYSDOT - Region 1), Bert Schou (CDTA), Steve Strichman (Schenectady 2000), Ivan Vamos (Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council), Russell Ziemba (Rensselaer County Environmental Action), Steve Allocco (CDTC)
Note: Any handouts referenced in the summary are attached for those who did not attend the meeting. The summary generally follows the order of the agenda distributed at the outset of the meeting.
Task Force Housekeeping: Several short items were reported on at the start of the meeting. First, Bob Kirker of the Town of Wilton was introduced. Bob will be taking Zim Smith's place on the Task Force. Next, note was made of the National Highway Institute's Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning course and the NYSDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Conference, both held recently in Albany. CDTC attended both events; materials from them are available for review at the CDTC offices.
Two upcoming events were noted: a presentation by Peter Calthorpe at the State Museum on October 27 at 7:30 PM (flyer attached), and an upcoming Mohawk-Hudson Wheelmen meeting on November 3 (7:30 PM, St. Michael's Church, Killean Park, Colonie) at which Jeff Olson, Don Robertson and Steve Allocco have been invited to speak.
Status Report -- Make Your Community More Bicycle- and Pedestrian Friendly: Work prior to the September meeting concentrated on clarifying the "audience" for the information and preparing the outside blurb and acknowledgments. Final cosmetic work, including scanning in some photos for the cover, selecting paper stock for duplication and producing a number of draft copies, should be completed shortly.
It was suggested that copies of this flyer be made available at the Calthorpe visit. This idea was investigated after the meeting, and the final determination was that the document cannot be publicly distributed prior to being approved by the Planning Committee. This is because the Task Force is an advisory committee, not a policymaking body, and thus it is not in the position to generate and distribute CDTC "public use" documents on its own. If the Calthorpe visit was strictly a "New Visions" participants' workshop, it might be possible to distribute the document in draft as "what we have to date;" however, given the likelihood that the presentation will be attended by a considerable number of people not involved with the New Visions effort, this cannot be done. The next meeting of the Planning Committee is on November 2; Brad and Steve were given carte blanche by the Task Force to work to finish document preparation, and if this can be completed in time for the pre-Committee meeting mailout (October 24 or 25), it will be placed on that meeting's agenda for approval.
Regional Bicycle Network: The results of applying the FHWA's suggested bicycle treatment standards to the Regional Bicycle Network were displayed; it was observed that particularly when "Group A" cyclist standards were applied, these treatments often would not imply major projects -- wide right-side lanes, in most cases. Even "Group B/C" treatments are not "unrealistic" -- basically, bike lanes in the urban areas and shoulders in the rural areas. One lingering question remains: as some have put it, "Group A" cyclists will usually not be deterred by conditions from using a given facility or route unless it is flat-out impassable; thus, the Task Force needs to decide whether it would be more beneficial to design for "Group B/C" cyclists, and if so, whether for all facilities on the network or just some prioritized set (see "Priority Treatment Network" section below).
Steve Strichman of Schenectady 2000 reported on an upcoming local planning effort which may take advantage of the Task Force's regional network development effort. A soon-to-be-scheduled meeting of representatives of a number of Schenectady 2000 Task Forces, NYSDOT and CDTC will take up the question of better connections between Vale Park and other uptown sites and the downtown and waterfront areas. The Regional Bicycle Network may serve as the starting point for development of a local bicycle/pedestrian travel plan, after which the issue of possible Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and/or Enhancement Program projects to complete key connections within the local network will be taken up.
Vision Statement: Sample "vision statements" were distributed, to illustrate ways in which a single sentence or two can summarize what a long-range plan for enhancing bicycle and pedestrian travel opportunities looks to achieve. Without a vision statement to crystallize this aim, there might be less-than-optimal use of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues Task Force's other products, as other participants in the CDTC process (e.g., other Task Forces, the Planning and Policy Committees) might not understand what this group was trying to work towards in generating its recommendations. Task Force members should give some thought to what the vision might be, and pass any ideas along to CDTC for inclusion in a list of possibilities to be mailed out prior to the next meeting.
Priority Treatment Network: The group was provided with a set of sample bases for identifying a priority network. As envisioned, this network would be a set of streets, along with their shoulders and walkways as appropriate, which would be held to a higher standard for both routine maintenance and periodic reconstruction than the remainder of the region's roadway system (which as a whole should be better maintained for bicycle and pedestrian travel than it is at present). In addition, a priority network could be the focus of special efforts to heighten motorist awareness of cyclists, through the use of "Share the Road" signs, buffer zones between motor vehicles and bicycles, and other means. The handout illustrated what the network would look like if developed from two common approaches: based on the functional classifications of roadways (first two plots) and by daily or rush hour traffic volumes.
Task Force members took a little time to review the plots, and the suggestion was raised that looking at these evaluations alongside the Regional Bicycle Network might be the best way to designate a set of priority facilities within the set of previously identified "desirable routes." CDTC staff will prepare evaluations and a couple of possible priority systems using this approach for the next meeting.
During this discussion, the concept of a priority network for pedestrian travel was also raised. As envisioned, it would provide important connections and crossings for pedestrians in three main areas: in and near the region's Urban Cultural Parks; along and leading to transit routes; and in major shopping areas. (Staff note: major educational and employment centers were not specifically suggested during this discussion; given their prominence in the Task Force's listing of areas which should be the beneficiaries of improved access and destination treatments, perhaps they should be taken into consideration as well in developing a priority network.) Perhaps at the next meeting, some time should be taken to see if this concept can be better fleshed out.
"Current Events": Three recent developments were noted:
* NYSDOT's proposal to build a pedestrian (/bicycle?) bridge over I-787 in downtown Albany;
* a public meeting held by NYSDOT on the resurfacing of Route 20 between Routes 158 and 146 in Guilderland; and
* the Albany Service Corps' being available for fieldwork
The two NYSDOT-related items raised the thought that perhaps the Task Force should be notified early in the process of those projects which might have potential bicycle/pedestrian travel implications; Don Odell was nominated and approved by the group to write a letter to NYSDOT requesting that this be done in the future. Also, the I-787 bridge proposal raised the suggestion that someone be invited to the next Task Force meeting to give a presentation on it; at this writing, it had just been confirmed that Dick Carlson (Region 1's Planning and Program Manager) and a representative from Region 1 Design will be making a presentation to the Urban Issues Task Force on the proposal on October 20. Given space and time constraints, the staff decision was to not put the word out to the Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force on this meeting, but instead to send out a summary of the presentation. However, perhaps fittingly given the new status bestowed upon him by the rest of the group, Don Odell was informed of the meeting and will be in attendance. It was also decided that given the current status of this proposal, it would not be appropriate to ask NYSDOT to make a second presentation at the next Bicycle/Pedestrian meeting; it would arguably be more appropriate to request a presentation once a structure design has been selected and project development has progressed to the issue of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations at either end of the bridge and away from it.
The Service Corps opportunity raised the idea of an inventory of a "triangle" consisting of parts of Bike Route 5 and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. This is currently on the Corps' list of planned projects. The schedule calls for participants to get an "early look" at the Bike-Hike Trail during the Fall, and then to get into the real work in the Spring. In addition to inventory work, trail maintenance is a big part of what the Corps will do; being an Albany-based group, however, issues of liability may limit this maintenance work to sections of the Trail within the City.
A standard form will be developed for Service Corps participants to use in conducting their inventories. For on-road facilities such as Bike Route 5, some examples of what data might be collected follow:
* shoulder width OR outside lane width
* shoulder paved/unpaved?
* general condition of riding surface (good/fair/poor)
* general amount of debris -- glass, gravel, etc. -- on riding surface (none, a little or a lot)
* railroad crossings or other spot barriers?
* "disappearing shoulder" (e.g., shoulder ends at bridge)?
* adjacent parking? (yes/no)
* road's speed limit
* sharp curves/limited sight distance?
* adequate signage or other navigational aids?
A number of other items are possible; it will be necessary to limit the form to a few key elements necessary to make a determination on the quality of a route or trail segment. This is necessary not only to make it easy to learn how to make judgments out in the field, but to keep the data collection process moving, as the evaluations might break a facility down into segments as short as 1/4 or 1/2 mile each, and if there were 20 questions to answer on each segment, it could take quite a bit of time to get a complete inventory. As the form is developed, it will be sent out to Task Force members for review and comment.
Pilot Projects from Transportation Improvement Program: Work continues; the goal is to have a summary together for the November meeting, with the hope of getting started with discussions of "what to ask for." Beyond add-ons to existing TIP projects, the idea was raised that a few possible separate bicycle/pedestrian initiatives could be set forth for consideration as well. These initiatives could emulate successful programs in other parts of the country, such as Seattle's Bike Spot Improvement Program, under which the city budgets $100,000 each year for repairs to potholes, damaged streetlights and other problems reported to the city by cyclists. A "set-aside" program of this sort could also be used for the initial installation of bicycle and/or pedestrian accommodations, such as separate bike stop lines at intersections, bicycle racks or lockers; "spot-paving" to provide short-distance sidewalks or bikeways crossing barrier areas; or traffic calming measures. Task Force members may wish to give this idea some thought in anticipation of developing a list of possible TIP proposals at the November meeting.
Following the "TIP projects" discussion, Alicia Fernandez made a short presentation of a "Downtown to SUNY (to Crossgates)" bicycle/pedestrian concept plan prepared for a planning course at SUNY/Albany. The emphasis of the project was to develop a connection between the campus and downtown which would provide students with improved access to the rest of the city -- particularly to downtown. The concept is similar to the "downtown to SUNY" pilot project idea suggested in Task Force discussions some time ago. The idea raised following the presentation was that if the concept could be revisited by a next group of students with the aim of better fleshing out the details (although the concept as presented was pretty strong for something prepared in only four weeks), it could have potential for implementation by the City, NYSDOT and the State Office of General Services.
Possible Meetings with Other Task Forces: The Infrastructure Task Force is curious as to what Bicycle/Pedestrian is thinking with regard to priority treatment facilities and what this "priority treatment" would be; as this concept is further developed in the coming months, a meeting of representatives of each Task Force may be in order, perhaps in either December or January.
The group was reminded that Urban Issues would like to set up a joint meeting in November, particularly to address possible pedestrian treatments; Brad Birge, Emily Goodman and Don Odell expressed interest, and they would be joined by Bert Schou, who sits on both Task Forces. Again, anyone interested in sitting in on this discussion should let CDTC know. "Where" and "when" should be established soon.
* CDTC to:
* attend and prepare summary of NYSDOT presentation to Urban Issues Task Force on I-787 Pedestrian Bridge proposals
* work with Brad Birge on "Make Your Community..." cosmetic and text preparation for Planning Committee review
* continue TIP review for bicycle/pedestrian "add-ons"
* evaluate Regional Bicycle Network using common "priority treatment" bases to develop a couple of possible priority networks
* work on developing a standard form for Service Corps participants to use in evaluations of trail and bike route conditions
* Next Task Force meeting: Wednesday, November 30, 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:
* vision statement development
* priority treatment network concepts
* possible TIP pilot projects update
* development of additional possible TIP projects (see discussion on Page 3)