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Walkers, bicyclists set for Niskayuna festival

Walkers, bicyclists set for Niskayuna festival

Safety demonstrations, live music and entertainment planned

NISKAYUNA -- An opportunity for residents to show off their strides -- and their bicycles -- is coming in Niskayuna.

The town will sponsor its first "Bike-Pedestrian Festival" on June 16 at Niskayuna Town Hall, located at Nott Street East and Niskayuna Circle.

"I think the main purpose of this event is to promote bike safety and really encourage people to get out and explore our town in all sorts of ways -- as a cyclist, or as a pedestrian -- and experience our town for all of its worth," said Jeffrey Twitty, Niskayuna's assistant planner.

Twitty said the festival, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is organized by the town's Planning Department and Complete Streets Committee. It will be funded through a $2,500 grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee and a town contribution of $1,876.

Participants are asked to cycle or walk to Town Hall for the event. If people must drive, parking will not be available at the Town Hall complex; lots will be available nearby.

The festival will include safety demonstrations, live music and entertainment, courtesy bicycle maintenance and a helmet giveaway.

"The main purpose of the festival is to have a fun event for the people of Niskayuna," said Janette Schue, a Complete Streets Committee member. "We're going to have a bike rodeo course which will give primarily kids, but people of all ages, the chance to practice maneuvers on a bicycle, how to control their speeds, how to stop and make safe turns."

While all cyclists are welcome, riders are asked to register for the festival by Thursday, June 14. To register for the "bike rodeo and community ride," email Twitty at [email protected] with the names and ages of expected participants.

Schue also said event planners will install "temporary infrastructure" to make walking and cycling safer in the community.

"We're going to have some multi-use path signage we're going to demonstrate. We have a multi-use path in town for use by pedestrians and bicycles -- people of all types of mobility," Schue said.

Temporary signage and painted markers will be in place on the path, which runs from the intersection of Balltown Road and Nott Street East, past the ShopRite supermarket plaza and past the Town Hall building. The visuals, which will be created with chalk paint, will include a striped bicycle lane and markers to tell people that motorists and cyclists share the road.

"One purpose is to encourage people to bicycle and walk safely in town," Schue said. "The other is to remind all of us motorists, because we're all motorists at some point, to be aware of bicycles and pedestrians and be aware of safety issues."

Schue also said those who come to the festival will have the chance to fill out a survey about their experiences biking and walking in the town. Data gathered may be used for planning.

Schue said the Complete Streets Committee is looking for ways to provide safe connections to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, popular with runners, cyclists and walkers. The committee also backs designated crossings that are striped or painted -- as well as signs -- to let people know an area is a designated bicycle crossing.

Schue said one designated crossing is in place on Aqueduct Road, not far from the rotary at Balltown Road. A designated crosswalk and flashing lights let people know bicycles are approaching to cross the road.

"We're looking at other places where infrastructure would be appropriate," Schue said.

Bill Chapman, chairman of the Complete Streets Committee, said the festival will emphasize safety features and will celebrate the joys of spending time outside.

"We want to get people out of their cars. We want them to enjoy Mother Nature and get the healthy benefits of nature, even if it's walking to the store, walking to school, taking the bike out to town parks," Chapman said. "All of those things are benefits to being outside."

The rain date for the event will be Sunday, June 17.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].  


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