Saturday, February 28, 2009

Re-thinking Albany's Approach to Street Design: ABC's Opinion for the TU

Re-thinking Albany’s Approach to Street Design

City streets are a public space – used by residents, merchants, trades people, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Regrettably, in Albany we have been led to believe that replicating the interstate highway system within the city limits is progress. It is not. Such an approach does not promote open spaces and improved quality of life for residents and visitors. This is failed transportation engineering from 30 years past. The American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team Report states specifically, “As the city of Albany has grown, many people are less connected to its open spaces, not only because of the greater distances created by sprawl but also due to the growing reconfiguration of the region around automobile travel over the years. This is reflected in many different ways: traffic signal times do not allow people to cross streets comfortably, major streets need more bike lanes, and other streets need traffic-calming measures.”

Now we hear that Albany Medical Center’s continued expansion is to be accompanied by converting Holland and parts of New Scotland avenues from two to four lanes. Neighbors and other city residents stand firmly and unequivocally against this prospect. In fact, the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association is proposing a well-researched, widely supported lane reconfiguration of Madison Avenue from Manning Boulevard to Lark Street. It calls for the reduction of the number of motor vehicle traffic lanes from four to two. This reconfiguration allows for the presently provided on-street parking, the addition of bicycle lanes (thereby reducing dependence on cars with attendant parking issues) and better access for buses and their riders. This federally supported configuration provides for turn lanes (eliminating dangerous lane changes and long backups), improved access for emergency vehicles, and two through-travel lanes for motorists. The Madison Avenue corridor, which cuts through the densely populated (roughly 10,000 residents—the same as the city of Watervliet) heart of Pine Hills, contains many businesses, churches, entertainment venues, and both senior and student housing – all of which generate substantial pedestrian traffic. All 29 Albany neighborhood associations, the College of St. Rose, the New York Bicycling Coalition, and the Albany Bicycle Coalition endorse this “lane management/traffic calming” proposal.

Because the stretch of Madison Ave. from Manning Boulevard to Lark Street is short, the cost to re-sign and re-stripe Madison Avenue will be modest. The addition of bike lanes leading to enhanced bicycle safety will increase cyclists’ use of Madison Avenue (State-designated Bike Route #5) and will reduce parking congestion – always a problem in Pine Hills. Studies show that converting from four lanes to two lanes does not increase the drive time but actually tends to reduce it. Coupling this with improved safety, reduction in speeding, growth in business, and improved quality of life leaves no doubt that this is the best future for Madison Avenue. We are convinced that it will serve as a model – as shown on Manning Boulevard – of how Albany should approach all its street designs. Albany’s Manning Boulevard, between Western and Washington, has benefited from low-cost re-striping that returned the street to a pleasant thoroughfare by eliminating speeding and lane jumping, and providing a marked pedestrian crosswalk.

Albany’s future depends on a progressive - rather than regressive - way of approaching quality of life issues such as this, using methods like those described here. It will not be well served by creating more lifeless, dangerous thoroughfares.

SUBMITTED BY: Dan Curtis, President, Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, and Lorenz M. Worden, spokesperson, Albany Bicycle Coalition. 2/28/09

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Albany, NY – On Wednesday, February 25th, 2009, the City of Albany and Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) will hold a meeting for the City of Albany Bicycle Master Plan. Located at the Albany Public Library Main Branch large auditorium, the public is invited to drop-in from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to share ideas about bicycling or attend the 6:30 p.m. presentation and workshop to learn more about the project.

The City of Albany and CDTC are undertaking a Bicycle Master Plan to identify a network of bicycle routes to help make cycling a more viable way of getting around the City. The Plan will present concepts in narrative form, photos, concept maps, renderings, and detail graphics to clearly and logically present the plan for the City of Albany to appropriately address bicycling as part of road maintenance or improvement projects.

“A network of bicycle routes in Albany would not only make bicycling a more viable mode of transportation, but also a safe and healthy transportation alternative which is paramount to achieving sustainability and enhancing the quality of life in the City of Albany,” said Mayor Jennings.

“We feel the best way to start the official dialogue about bicycling in Albany is to ask the people who live and cycle in the City of Albany,” says Douglas Melnick, Director of Planning for the City of Albany. “Moving forward, we will be able to include these principles in our initiatives and comprehensive plan.”

As lead consultant of the Albany Bicycle Plan, IBI Group – based in Ontario, Canada, with offices across the US – is a multi-disciplinary consulting and design firm with extensive experience in transportation planning. IBI has over two decades of bicycle planning in North America from small and large communities. Working with IBI Group is

Rick Manning Landscape Architecture, a planning and design firm located in Ithaca, New York. Collectively IBI Group and Rick Manning Landscape Architecture have worked on bicycle studies in Upstate New York communities, which include the Ithaca, Binghamton and Rochester areas.

“Albany’s relatively high population density, short distances between destinations and slow speed traffic in most locations make it a good city for cycling,” remarks Norma Moores, Senior Transportation Engineer from IBI Group.

To participate in the City of Albany Bicycle Master Plan public meeting, the drop-in time starts at 4:30 p.m. and the workshop starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Albany Public Library on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drop-in from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Presentation and Workshop from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Albany Public Library - Main Library
161 Washington Avenue
Room: Large Auditorium (First Floor)

Pine Ridge Night Ski and Snowshoe Tues Feb 24th 6pm to 9:30pm

Tuesday night ski and snowshoe Feb 24 from 6 to 9:30pm on 4km of groomed trails under the lights. Head lamps welcome. Conditions are as good as they get with four more inches of fresh snow as of Monday morning. Plan for a social visit in the lodge with your friends. Thanks,Walter

Monday, February 23, 2009

Albany Bicycle Coalition Meeting, Thurs, 2/26 7pm

Albany Bicycle Coalition Meeting, Thursday, February 26, 2009, 7:00 PM

When: Thursday, February 26, 2009, 7:00 PM

Where: Muddy Cup Coffee House, Madison Ave, (Madison Theater), Albany

Critical Mass Bike Ride, Friday, February 27, 2009, 5:15 PM

When: Friday, February 27, 5:30 PM (meet at 5:15 PM)

Where: Civil War Memorial, Washington Park at State St. & Henry Johnson Blvd., Albany

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Banff Festival of Mountain Films Sat Feb 21st 7pm

$15 Tickets through the Arcadian Shop, 91 Pittsfield Road in Lenox: 413-637-3010

Doors open at 6pm, Films begin at 7pm

Duffin Theater, Lenox Memorial High School, East Street in Lenox, Mass

Monday, February 09, 2009

ADK Meeting, Tuesday, February 10th

Tuesday February 10th is the monthly meeting of the Albany Chapter of the ADK. The meeting and accompanying program are held at West Albany Firehouse (Station #1), 113 Sand Creek Road, Albany.

At 6:30 PM, there will be an Education Committee workshop:
GPS Basics - Join us for a close look at this modern navigation tool,including the best features they provide for hiking and paddling, how to best make use of the technology, and how to choose a good model for you.

At 7:30 PM, there will be a brief business meeting, followed by the program:
Paddling the Hudson River by Alan Mapes - The 150 mile-long Hudson River Estuary provides countless places to paddle and enjoy nature. Chapter education chair Alan Mapes will present a show on paddling the Hudson, sharing great locations and featuring some of its natural wonders. For the past 2 summers, Alan has guided and instructed sea kayaking on the Hudson. What better time than the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's historic trip to discover it for yourself?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Night skiing at Pine Ridge Feb 6th from 6 to 9:30 pm on 4kils under the lights. See Jan 13th Pics

Friends of Dyken Pond Center Present Alcott Smith Animal Tracking Classes Feb 7th & 8th

Come and spend a day or a half day in the woods with Alcott Smith, tracker, naturalist, and veterinarian. Alcott brings you the forest from the perspective of its inhabitants. He revels in sharing his passion with others and excels in his ability to bring to life the relationship between our wild fauna and its habitat. From sets of tracks will emerge entire stories in the life of the animals who traveled, foraged, hunted and interacted with one another. Anyone with an interest in the natural world will love this program. In past programs we have followed tracks to a porcupine in its den, found kill sites with tracks emanating in all directions and have found mouse tracks that end at a set of wing marks. The possibilities are truly endless.
This year, he will lead a full day program on Saturday and two 3 hour half day programs on Sunday. Veterans of past programs will be happy to hear that we will be covering some new terrain on the Saturday program. We will spot cars and follow the Poestenkill drainage downstream from Dyken Pond.
Sessions are as follows:
Sat Feb 7th, 9am – 4pm (or later)
Sun Feb 8th 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
$30 for the full day program
$20 for a half day program
$5 discount for members of the Friends of Dyken Pond. (Not a member? ask about membership)
Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Each session will explore a different area of the Center. Participants are welcome to attend more than 1 session. Please register early by calling Jim Bonesteel at 766-5354, or send an e-mail to . Participants must dress appropriately for being outdoors, and be physically fit.
The Dyken Pond Center is a Rensselaer County Park open daily during daylight hours for hiking, fishing. cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Call 658-2055, for more information, directions and a complete schedule of our winter events. Animal tracks commonly seen at the Center include coyote, fox (red and gray), bobcat, mink, fisher, weasel, porcupine, snowshoe hare and perhaps this year moose.

Monday, February 02, 2009

OK, Now find the trail...

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. The world's most famous groundhog saw his shadow Monday (2/2) morning, predicting winter will last for six more weeks.

Besides being Groundhog Day in the US, this is National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. Founded in 1996, many nonprofit groups work together to provide half a million young people with the opportunity to shadow someone on the job, to learn more about the job of someone they know. Celebrate by teaching someone something new today!

BTW, February 2nd is a "cross-quarter" day in the solar calendar, which means that it falls exactly between a solstice and an equinox.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

CLIF and LUNA Bars recalled

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 03:21:00 -0600
Clif Bar and Company today expanded its voluntary and precautionary recall of CLIF and LUNA branded bars because of concerns that the recalled bars contain peanut products that were manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which is the focus of an ongoing Salmonella investigation. Clif Bar took this action in response to PCA's recent expansion of its peanut product recall to include all peanut products produced in PCA's Blakely, Georgia plant since January 1, 2007.