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Albany Riders Mark #BikeToWorkDay In The Rain

Albany's annual bike ride to work was a wet one this morning.

What has become an annual spring tradition went on despite the rain...

...as cyclists assembled at the corner of West Lawrence Street and Madison Avenue for a short junket along the recently re-striped "complete street" to the Downtube Bicycle Shop on Madison.

National Bike To Work Day is celebrated on the third Friday in May. This year state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and 10th ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane joined the pack of "Bike To Work" riders.

Downtube owner Bob Fullem lauded Albany as a vibrant walkable, bikeable city.

Fahy, a Democrat who has partnered with the city on a number of issues involving biking and traffic calming, says she flipped a coin and decided to hop on her bike and brave the elements.   "It's a win-win right across the board. It's good for our health, absolutely good for our economy, especially small businesses because we know where we have the bike paths, where we have the bike lanes. It is more conducive to shopping and biking right up to support our urban cores as well as our small towns, so it's been good all the way around."

Chief Hawkins reminds drivers to keep an eye out for bikes.   "One of the complaints that we often hear from bicyclists is that motorists are often distracted, they're speeding and their careless. So be very very respectful and mindful and aware that we have bicyclists on the roadways during this summer season."

Anane says the city is committed to building upon its existing bike infrastructure.   "And to promote the use of healthy and reliable and sustainable modes of transportation among city residents as well as commuters."

Fullem says Albany's bike-friendly initiatives come with health benefits.   "There's so much emphasis now on being healthy, and exercise is part of that, not hard exercise, just regular exercise. And biking does that."

Fullem adds pedal-assisted electric bikes are all the rage.   "Those are so popular I can barely keep them in stock."

Assemblywoman Fahy is pushing legislation to ensure e-bikes can be ridden legally throughout New York.  "And there's different levels of these bikes. The one that we want is the one that's a pedal-assist and would only allow the bike styles that go up to 20 miles an hour, because we wanna be cognizant of accidents and especially in New York City. In certain areas there's been opposition to them just because of safety of pedestrians."

Fahy believes e-bikes will help boost tourism, small businesses and economic development, especially in Albany.   "The more we add in striping, the more we add in bike lanes, I feel safer the minute I'm on them. It really makes others feel safer. It's also a reminder to cars to slow down. It truly has a measurable traffic-calming effect. So it's not just the cyclists that are safer, it absolutely makes pedestrians safer."

The cyclists pedaled on down to Albany City Hall for light refreshments and then went their separate ways to work.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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