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Residents and businesses support bike lanes

January 23, 2015

by Ariana Wilson

City residents and business owners Thursday night asked the  Common Council to support protected bike lanes during a meeting at City Hall.

Those who spoke during the public comment period showed safety concern for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists when it comes to bike lanes in the city of Albany, primarily Madison Avenue.  Bike lanes are available to cyclists but they aren’t necessarily protected.

Barriers between cars and cyclists provide a level of protection not now offered with unprotected lanes.  Jason D’Cruz, a University at Albany professor, spoke in favor of the proposal.Council-members-300x144

“Protected bike lanes are going to make people feel safer,” D’Cruz said.  The lack of these lanes make residents too nervous too cycle, he said. Studies show that 96% of bicyclists will use protected bike lanes if they are available, he said.  He also brought up the fact that students make up a large majority of occupants along Madison Ave. When D’Cruz asked his students if they ride bicycles, he said nearly  one-third of them raised their hands.

Last September, Albany resident Joshua Farrell was riding his bike when he was hit by a car driven by a college student.  The driver then proceeded to blame Farrell for biking behind the vehicle, he said.

“This is a common problem,” Farrell said, “many drivers in the City of Albany think this.”  Drivers don’t see bicyclists as having stake in the road, he said.  This is a major fear of D’Cruz who often bikes along Madison Ave., usually with his young son in tow.

“Protected bike lanes will make all the difference for people to use bikes instead of cars,” D’Cruz said.  Daniel Laiosa, resident on Madison Ave. and co-owner of Madison Theatre and Tierra Coffee House, agrees that bike lanes could make this difference. ”I absolutely believe in this and hope it comes to pass,” he said.

During the caucus held before the meeting, council members discussed the amended version of Local Law F, which was originally introduced in June, according to Ronald Bailey, 3rd Ward Council member.  The intention of this additional proposal is to give employees the incentive to work harder.Community-Members-300x260

“We are trying to bring the City of Albany together,” Bailey said.  Initially the proposed law gave new hires six months to establish residency in the city.  The committee agreed to change this to a one-year waiver.  Any current employees will be grandfathered into this law, but all new city-employee hires, not including uniform police officers, firefighters, and sanitation workers, must comply with the residency requirement.

“It has the potential to help people who work for the city and be more engaged because they are more involved,” said Leah Golby, 10th Ward Councilperson.  But it will take time to get there.  According to Golby, the law was voted out of the committee Wednesday night.  The Common Council is expected to revisit the residency requirement at its Feb. 2 meeting.

“This is something that’s long overdue,” said Bailey. -30-

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