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Safer Streets Proposed at Two Albany Meetings

February 28, 2013

Margaret Lanoue and Marc Violette view the proposed “road diet” map for Madison Ave

by Kaylee Pagano

Two different meetings were held Thursday by separate groups to discuss the improvement of road safety throughout the Capital Region.

The first meeting sponsored by city engineers, held in the Lally Touhey Forum at The College of Saint Rose discussed the outcomes of the Madison Avenue feasibility study.  Associates from Creighton Manning, the engineering firm hired by the City of Albany to complete the study, led the informational meeting.

The study, analyzed the length of Madison Avenue spanning from Manning Boulevard to Lark Street, to determine the feasibility of a “road diet” recently wrapped at the end of last year.  The purpose behind this meeting was to provide the residents of the area with the results, and allow for public criticism and concern.  “We do want to stress that this is a draft report,” said senior project manager, Jeffrey Pangburn.

Creighton Manning devised four different alternatives to the current layout of Madison Avenue, and parts of Western Avenue.  The first two options were immediately ruled out, because they would require full road diets of both roads.  The full road diet would greatly decrease the level of service and the performance index.

The performance index helps to measure the level of service for automobiles, and lower numbers are the best.  This effectively measure the efficiency of traffic along a specific roadway. However, this does not take into account the levels of service for cyclists and pedestrians, a concern raised by Lorenz Worden, president of the Albany Bicycle Coalition.

Due to width restrictions, the possibility of a road diet along Western Avenue is slim.  Therefore, the study proposes two different plans for partial road diets along Madison Avenue, solely.  All of the proposed changes have on-street parking on both sides of the road, and a center turning lane.

These two plans also allow for multiple options when it comes to the construction of bicycle lanes.  Option A calls for a shared travel lane between cyclists and drivers.  This option would mark the road with “sharrows” to designate a space for bicycles.  Option B calls for a shared parking lane, where cyclists will have to ride within the parking zone.  Option C would create an exclusive bike lane on either side of the road.

The three options proposed by Creighton Manning, caused a great deal of concern for the cyclist who attended the meeting.  Options B and C put cyclists in the danger zone of being “doored” by parked cars, said John Vendetti, a cycling instructor from American Heritage Bicycle Tours.  This issue is difficult to resolve considering the width of the street is only 57ft, and there is no desire to widen the roadway.

“I want it to be the best it can be given the width of the street,” said Vice President of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, Virginia Hammer.

“If there was more room to play with, a bike lane could work,” said Albany Ptl., Joseph Acquaviva Jr.  “I get nervous as heck riding down Madison,” said Acquaviva, who is often riding his bike on patrol through the neighborhood.

“A road diet is feasible, obviously there are some drawbacks,” said Pangburn.  Despite some drawbacks, residents and officials are hopeful that traffic calming will succeed on Madison Avenue.

The second, a meeting of the Common Council’s General Services, Health and Environment committee, held at city hall began the conversation of complete streets.  Complete streets legislation was recently introduced to Albany by 10th ward Councilwoman Leah Golby.

Golby spoke to the committee about the importance of complete streets legislation.  The recent Delaware Avenue reconstruction is the closest example the capitol district has to what complete streets seeks to achieve.  The legislation covers a wide variety of improvements to the streets including building sidewalks, creating more crosswalks, and “bumpouts,” which lessens the distance at crosswalks.

The Department of General Services is completely in favor of complete streets, said Randall Milano, city engineer.  “Above all, safety is for all, we 100% support it,” added Milano.  Safety is the main goal for all parties involved in

Committee of General Services, Health and Environment discussing Complete Streets

the complete streets movement.

During the public comment section, a number of residents spoke to the committee to voice their support for the movement.  When the New York Legislature passed the complete streets law in 2011, the proposal was unanimously supported in a highly divided legislature, said Nadine Lemmon, an advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Though all of the committee strongly supported the idea of complete streets, the legislation is not moving forward at the moment.  The legislation will be most likely amended with changes proposed by the city.  The amendments will also take into account a suggestion made by Worden asking for resigning as a part of the complete streets law.

“Roadways belong to the people who paid for them,” said Worden.

Traffic Study


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