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Albany Releases Updated Bicycle And Pedestrian Master Plan

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the Master Plan is an update to the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, and includes a new complementary Pedestrian Master Plan.
Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the Master Plan is an update to the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, and includes a new complementary Pedestrian Master Plan.

On this Bike to Work Day, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan released the city's updated Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins gives double thumbs-up
Credit Dave Lucas / WAMC
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins gives double thumbs-up to Bike To Work Day as the city's new Master Plan is announced.

Speaking along the Hudson River in the shadow of the USS Slater floating museum, Sheehan says the Master Plan is an update to the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, and includes a new complementary Pedestrian Master Plan to guide future investments to make Albany more bikeable and walkable.

"Building on an even stronger bike and pedestrian network in Albany will make it a more attractive destination and also will help build a more sustainable and equitable Albany. Building on that cutting edge plan is really part of my administration's equity agenda. It's essential for those who don't have a personal vehicle to travel, to ensure that they are safe, whether it's getting to public transit, or whether they are walking or biking to get to where they need to go. And this plan really prioritizes our pedestrians."

Sheehan, a Democrat, is running for a third term.

Ed Brennan is President of the Albany Bike Coalition:

"It proposes a total of 30 miles of protected bike lanes. 19 miles of multi-use paths. Four miles of traditional bike lanes supported by 43 miles of low stress, low speed cyclable streets designed as bike boulevards. We are excited that the plan proposes, looks to building the Patroon Creek Greenway, which we hope will give North Albany a multi-use path like the South End has with this trail here and the Heldeberg Rail Trail. We're most excited though about creating a bicycle pedestrian transportation network that lets people get where they need to go without a car, without risking their lives, and without having to spend all day getting their back. Moving steadily forward on this plan will bring many more cyclists out on our streets, a goal we all share."

Brennan explained why the city needs a "complete streets" approach for bikes, pedestrians and mass transit.

"The cost of a car keeps increasing, as does the cost of everything else like housing and health care and education. In December 2020, AAA, which is not an, you know, a radical bike organization, they reported the average annual cost of owning a car had reached $9,561 per year. Consider how many families have two or three cars. Consider the average American only earns 31 to $32,000 a year. You do the math, and you find that many of us are spending years of our working lives working for our automobiles. Build a city where people can walk, bicycle and take a bus and don't always need to use an automobile to get where they

"The Plan proposes to build upon the City's Equity Agenda by ensuring that future bicycle and pedestrian improvements are prioritized in communities that include larger percentages of people who do not rely on a personal vehicle to travel." ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan

need to go, and people might not need an automobile. Or they might not need a second automobile. Or they might just be able to make the automobile they have last longer and cost less."

Jackie Gonzales with Walkable Albany is on the city's sustainability advisory committee. She says the new plan will address major pedestrian safety issues.

"Walkable Albany is thrilled that the city included pedestrians in this update to the Master Plan. It shows that the city is committed to improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, which will make our streets calmer and safer for everyone. And we look forward to working with the city to see that the projects and ideas proposed in this are implemented.”

The most striking thing about Friday morning's gathering: nearly everyone was unmasked, including the mayor.

"You know, now that I'm fully vaccinated, I almost didn't grab a mask but I'm glad that I did because my chain fell off my bike, so the mask came in handy as a rag to wipe off my hand."

The Master Plan makes the following key recommendations in the bike/ped infrastructure:

  • Increase the number of pedestrian signals
  • Add new sidewalks across the City
  • Minimize the number of wide street crossings of three lanes or more
  • Reduce the number of high-stress roads that make cycling unsuitable for all ages and abilities
  • Increase bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure connections
  • Make walking and biking conditions safer, especially in neighborhoods that have higher incidents of bike and pedestrian accidents

Here's a link to the new Master Plan.

According to the mayor's office, the Master Plan was developed through input from neighborhood groups, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, transportation officials, and community leaders, including Walkable Albany and the Albany Bicycle Coalition. Public input was a crucial component that included eight community listening sessions, two demonstration projects, numerous focus groups with community organizations, and review from the project’s advisory committee. The project team received 380 online survey responses and 624 visits to an interactive map where users could leave recommendations and comments.

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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