Schenectady

Schenectady’s 2017 bicycle master plan gets another look; Virtual meeting planned for Wednesday

Dee Dee Martines, 11, of Schenectady and Jalyssa Terry, 10, ride their bicycles in Schenectady's Central Park in this file photo.
Dee Dee Martines, 11, of Schenectady and Jalyssa Terry, 10, ride their bicycles in Schenectady's Central Park in this file photo.

Supporters of making the city more bicycle-friendly can get in gear during a webinar planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, when the city’s Bicycle Infrastructure Master Plan will be discussed.

The City Council adopted the plan in 2017. It was an update of a plan that was adopted in early 2000s.

Few, if any, of its components have been implemented, said Art Clayman, president of Cycle Schenectady, a bike advocacy group that formed more than a year ago.

City engineer Chris Wallin, director of planning and development Kristin Diotte, and Rima Shamieh, transportation planner at the Capital District Transportation Committee, will make the presentation.

Cycle Schenectady formed a coalition with Schenectady United Neighborhoods, which has the common interest of slowing traffic from 30 mph to 25 mph through home-rule legislation.

In addition to pushing for implementation of the master plan and a lower speed limit, Cycle Schenectady wants the city to adopt a “complete streets” ordinance that would take pedestrians and bicyclists into account when any road work is done, and to make accommodations so that cars don’t dominate roadways, Clayman said.

“Everybody should have access and be safe on the streets,” he said. “They’re not the exclusive province of automobiles for either driving or parking. They take up a lot of room. They’re dangerous, especially when they’re flying around the streets at 45 mph, which they’re doing now.”

Schenectady is not generally bicycle-friendly, with a dangerous downtown area and hills to climb from downtown to upper Union Street, Clayman said.

The master plan suggests making simple accommodations, such as demonstration projects, painting lines on roads and making bike lanes, even if they are only temporary, to find whether they work or not, Clayman said.

It also identifies bicycle routes that make sense through neighborhood connectivity.

“You don’t just have a bike path here, and it ends, and you’re fighting for your life with cars when the path ends and there’s no way to get to the next neighborhood,” Clayman said, describing an existing bike lane on Nott Terrace. “You want connections.”

Cycle Schenectady wants to see bike boulevards, especially in residential neighborhoods.

The advocates also want to combat equity issues, with some federal money allocated to disadvantaged areas to make up for previous injustices such as highways being constructed through neighborhoods, Clayman said.

Many low-income, elderly and young people are without vehicles, and they shouldn’t have to be at greater risk for a pedestrian or bicycle accident because they don’t have money to buy a motor vehicle. 

Specifically, the master plan examines “opportunity corridors” on existing streets in the city with low-traffic volumes, wide rights of way, with connectivity to economic centers.

According to the plan, less than 1 percent of the city’s bicycling population are “strong and fearless bicyclists” who will ride regardless of dangers.

Another 5 percent are “enthused and confident,” choosing to ride on low traffic streets or shared paths.

The bulk of city bike riders, about 60 percent, are “interested but concerned,” and typically ride on low traffic streets or shared paths under favorable weather conditions

The other 35 percent are inexperienced and will not ride a bike in the city under any circumstances.

Major barrier corridors to bicyclists identified in the plan include Route 7, with an average daily traffic of 30,000 vehicles at the time of the study, Erie Boulevard, from I-890 to Van Vranken Avenue, with 25,000 vehicles per day, and Broadway from Guilderland Avenue to State Street, with 21,000 cars a day.

There were 175 collisions involving bicyclists and motorists from 2010 to 2015, according to the master plan, which cites data by the Department of Motor Vehicles and Schenectady police.

People can register for the webinar at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__pYqofkwTASPejxOBjjLBw

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply