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Schenectady Dusts Off Bike Master Plan

Schenectady Bike Plan

Schenectady's slow-moving Bicycle Master Plan could be shifting into gear with the arrival of federal infrastructure funding.

Schenectady's Bike Plan was originally adopted two decades ago, updated in 2017, but there’s a long way to pedal to total implementation.

Rima Shamieh, a transportation planner with the Capital District Transportation Committee, helped develop the plan to create a safe, comfortable biking environment when she was employed by the city. She says Schenectady streets present many challenges.

"Some high speed corridors and some high traffic corridors. Certain parts of Erie State Street and Route 7. We've got some narrow right of ways like portions of Washington, Liberty, Franklin,and Union, you've got steep grades like Broadway and also Union. We've got a number of bridges, Freeman's bridge, Kings Road, the area under I-890 and Broadway can be challenging."

Shamieh notes there are some neighborhood streets with low traffic volume and others that are very wide or have other potentials for development. Bike infrastructure planners are also looking at ways to keep cyclists safe.

"Between 2010 and 2015, the city of Schenectady had 177 bicycle collisions that were reported. 79% of those reported injuries and 8% of those reported severe injuries... in 2011, our bike crash rate was a little bit higher than the per capita in the state. So ours was .5%. And the state average was .3."

City engineer Chris Wallin pointed out there've been studies, recommendations, some talks, a few inquiries into funding, and progress, however slow, is being made.

"The bike lanes on Broadway, we have a project that's pending right now, federal aid project that's going to go from Weaver Street to Fourth Avenue, or Fairview. And we are adding a dedicated bike lane between Weaver Street and Congress Street where we have excess paving and we don't allow on street parking. And from Congress street up to Fourth, we are going to transition to sharrows and signage as part of that project."

Wallin says that project is in final design, headed out for bid in the next two weeks.

Delays include a FEMA project involving the Stockade section and National Grid's initiative upgrading natural gas lines.

"We're pushing farther into things that are going to be you know where we talk about we're going to start cracking eggs. You know we're going to start having to do things that make people uncomfortable, which is maybe not part directly in front of their home, or maybe not do certain things a certain way. Maybe a street is now one way that was two way."

With infrastructure funding expected from Washington, planners envision several bike-friendly improvements coming including improved road markings, dedicated bike lanes on downtown streets and bike sidepaths along major arteries.

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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