Albany officials use annual bike to work day to promote city’s growing cycling infrastructure
Albany's observance of National Bike to Work Day Wednesday celebrated the completion of the Skyway — the new waterfront connection that repurposes an old highway ramp.
Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan was joined by city police and several bike enthusiasts for a 2-mile ride that began at the U.S.S. Slater, stopping off to greet reporters in the park at the corner of Clinton Avenue and North Pearl Street.
"We are really seeing an incredible increase in cycling," said Sheehan. "We have seen it, we saw it, during the pandemic, as people got out, enjoy and enjoyed our bike infrastructure with fewer cars on the road. And we have seen a huge uptick in the CDPHP bike share program, which is overseen by CDTA. It's been running for six years, it's hard to believe that it's been that long. But just to highlight how much that increase has been, over a period of three years, in 2019 CDTA saw 20,700 rides in Albany just in the city of Albany, we know we have these bikes throughout the Capital Region. In 2021. It was 54,400 rides in just three years, it went from 20,700 to 54,400. So that's 170% increase. This is a great win for the city of Albany. It's a great win for the Capital Region."
Sheehan noted that the city continues to build out the South End Connector, which serves as a downtown bike bypass to the miles of trails in either direction, and has expanded its sidewalk cafes as part of an ongoing effort to make Albany's downtown and commercial areas more pedestrian friendly.
"We have completed the Skyway, which is a great infrastructure," Sheehan said. "We've only completed phase one. And we're looking forward to expanding, having opportunities for vendors, for events, to take place on the Skyway. "
Ed Brennan with the Albany Bicycle Coalition praised the Clinton Square Revitalization Initiative that includes building a new Livingston Avenue railway bridge.
"Restoring our bike pedestrian access between Albany and Rensselaer and creating, possibly creating the Patroon Creek Greenway," said Brennan. "That would be a multi-use trail connecting the Hudson via the Skyway, to the Tivoli preserve and our Six Mile waterworks. At the same time, the Patroon Creek Greenway will also connect underserved neighborhoods along its way to parks, schools, shopping and businesses. The Patroon Creek Greenway is a core component of the Capital District committee's Capital District trails plan and was made part of the Albany City Bicycle and Pedestrian master plan. The proposed phase one of the patrolling Creek Greenway would not only open up Tivoli preserve to many more opening citizens, but will also provide safe bike pedestrian route for West Hill and Arbor Hill citizens to the waterfront, downtown theater district, the Empire State Trail and the Albany County Rail Trail."
Citing state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy’s efforts to study the future of Interstate 787 along the Hudson, Sheehan pointed out now that downtown area residents have access to the riverfront, there may be more to come.
"Well, you know, Pat Fahy was successful in getting $5 million into the budget to study the future of 787," Sheehan said. "We don't know what that might be. There are a lot of factors that are associated with that. And it's going to take a significant investment to make that determination. So this is real money. It's not $100,000 or even half a million dollars. I don't think people realize it's a big investment to do this depth of analysis."
There has been an ongoing call to tear down the interstate that runs from Albany to Cohoes to enable waterfront development.