The city of Albany is seeking public input as it works to improve biking and walking networks.
Residents of Albany are invited to take a seat at the planning table to create a "Master Bike/Ped Plan" by year's end that officials say will make it safer and more enjoyable to pedal or walk around the city.
Advocates have been touting cycling as a viable year-round transportation alternative in many North American cities, including Albany, which has seen road diets that include bicycle paths, an increase in biking and walking trails, and a successful bike share network.
Yasmine Robinson is Deputy Director of the city's Department of Planning and Development.
"The city of Albany, in partnership with the Capital District Transportation Committee, is launching an update to the 2009 Bicycyle Master Plan, which means adding a pedestrian component. So in 2009 there was a great plan that came out that was really the formative plan for bike infrastructure in Albany, and since 2009 a lot of things have happened in the positive realm for bike infrastructure, so what we're trying to now is to build off of that and add what is really also important, the pedestrian component."
Former Common Councilor Leah Golby is board president of the New York Bicycling Coalition.
"Bicycling is way up thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are, you know, lines at bicycle shops, stores are out of bicycles. It's really a great time for the bicycle movement, across the world really, not jut locally. This new bicycle and pedestrian Master Plan is a great opportunity for people to get involved and provide their input."
Golby expects an additional boost in biking since New York legalized e-bikes.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is encouraged by state investment in rail trails and other bike/pedestrian infrastructure.
"We're going to see the completion of the link between the Albany County rail trail to the Corning Preserve, which then connects, you know, to the Mohawk Trail, and so what other linkages do we want to see?"
Residents are getting a chance to answer that: Robinson says Planning and Development is hosting six virtual meetings to discuss cycling and walking in the city.
"So we're conducting public outreach in June and July, with a draft plan in the fall and a final plan by the end of the year."
As a model for what could happen in Albany, Sheehan looks to Seattle...
"Where there are entire streets that are closed to through traffic. If you live on the street you can drive on the street and park in front of your house, but the streets are not through streets, they're bikeways. And so I think there is a lot of potential. And you know I'm really interested to see what our residents come up with and what their ideas are."
Robinson says the city has made a WikiMAP available so residents can submit location-specific comments about cycling and walking.
"For example, there needs to be a crosswalk at this intersection, or, traffic goes really fast here and I feel uncomfortable biking. So we've had a really good response to the map so far. Unfortunately because of the COVID-19 outbreak we can't hold real meetings but we're hoping to get the word out as much as we can."
To learn more about the Bike/Ped project, visit the project website and watch the project introduction video. On the project website, you can also take the project survey and use a WikiMAP to provide location-specific comments about cycling and walking in the City.