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Plattsburgh Officials Hold Meeting To Get Feedback On Bike Infrastructure Plan

City councilor Jennifer Tallon (left) asks Planner Ethan Vinson about the bike plan
Pat Bradley/WAMC
City councilor Jennifer Tallon (left) asks Planner Ethan Vinson about the bike plan

Plattsburgh’s Community Development Office has drafted a three-phase plan to enhance and expand the city’s bike infrastructure. A public meeting was held Thursday night to get feedback on the draft proposal.

Among the events during the Fourth of July holiday weekend was a Community Bike Ride along routes proposed in Plattsburgh’s Bike Infrastructure Plan. It was followed up by a community feedback session at City Hall Thursday evening.  

City Planner Ethan Vinson says the city of Plattsburgh is just over five square miles in area and the dense urban setting allows the city to pursue a connected bike infrastructure plan.

“We have a lot of solid components," Vinson said. "We have bike lanes. We have the sharrows that exist and of course components like the Saranac River Trail. We have the Empire State Trail that connects north and south. So we have a lot of the pieces. But it’s also figuring out how to connect people east and west and getting to other locations in the city besides just a straight shot. We have a lot of the pieces there but we’ve just got build upon that and make it more connected.”

Spread out on tables across the room were posters mapping potential bike routes, plus papers laid out for people to make notes or jot down suggestions. Vinson provided a brief overview of the plan and its evolution.

During open discussion safety components were a key concern people wanted addressed in the plan. City resident Adrian Carr believes safety education is critical.

“When you’re riding you wonder if you’re going to make it past the next rear view mirror," Carr said. "So education is going to be just as important here as building I think.”

Resident Steven Vogl added that bikers must also be educated about the rules of the road.

“Educating not only the drivers but also the cyclists," Vogl said. "A lot of cyclists don’t even know what a sharrow is.  I mean you can have signs all you want. You know ‘Bikes May Use Lane’. Well what does that really mean? It’s not only educating the drivers but the cyclists as well. Even the rules of the road. A lot of cyclists don’t follow the rules.”

Dana Jeweler says she bikes everywhere and is concerned about her safety.

“This is a great plan," Jeweler said. "I think cyclists are going to be on board no matter what. I think it’s the drivers. Especially going on Route 3 you’re taking your life in your hands. And they’re very obstinate about your being in their lane. It’s kind of crazy. I do feel safer outside the city. There’s more room. There’s more shoulders and things like that. And that just goes with urban versus rural.”

Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest says the city’s public transit infrastructure must include a safe multi-model transportation plan. 

“We’re not getting rid of cars, right, but we’re adding infrastructure for biking," Rosenquest said. "And we continue to build into that culture of courtesy. You’ve got to still follow the traffic rules. You can’t be blowing through red lights. You’ve got to stop at stop signs. You know like you’ve got to be mindful of the relationship that we have with drivers. They look at bicyclists and they say ‘damn bicyclists they can’t follow the rules and now we’re going to get into this tete-a-tete with introducing more biking infrastructure’. Which is not what we want to do. Right. We want to build in a culture of sharing the road whether you’re walking, on two wheels or on four.”

The plan is in its initial phases of development and has not been formally adopted. Sharrows are shared roadways indicated by a painted bicycle.