Red light. Stop.

red light thumbnailToday through next Monday Albany police say they will be monitoring high traffic intersections and crosswalks to make sure drivers are following traffic laws. Why: several recent car-on-pedestrian and car-on-bike accidents. Also: "There have several citizens who have voiced their concern over motorists speeding on the roadways and more specifically running red lights at intersections and failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians." In case it's unclear: you do have to stop at the traffic lights on Western Ave when they're red. This apparently has been a point of confusion. (Full release pasted after jump.)

Update: Well, that's not exactly setting the example.

Update: There was a question about how to report problem intersections. From Common Councilwoman Leah Golby (via Twitter):

the answer from @albanypolice is this: send emails to If folks want to call, best number is 438-4000
Also, the number for Traffic Safety is 462-6593. They say that number is only answered when someone is at the desk though.

APD press release

October 12, 2011

Pedestrian Safety Initiative

The Albany Police Department and the Traffic Safety Division will be conducting a pedestrian safety initiative starting today and running through October 17.

Traffic Safety Officers will be monitoring intersections and crosswalks where there is high pedestrian and vehicular traffic to ensure that motorists are obeying all vehicle and traffic laws.

The city has a large number of people that walk to work or school or use alternative transportation such as bicycles, especially during the warmer months of the year.

There have several citizens who have voiced their concern over motorists speeding on the roadways and more specifically running red lights at intersections and failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Several accidents have been documented over the last several weeks in which a pedestrian was struck by a car while in the cross walk or a bicyclist has been struck.

The city has clearly lined designated crosswalks on most streets. There are also a number of pedestrian crossing signs placed in crosswalks to warn motorists to yield when pedestrians are crossing.

Traffic Safety Officers, over the next week, will be educating, advising and enforcing the New York State Traffic Law in areas that have been identified as problematic.

Pedestrians and bicyclists should also practice roadway safety at all times and recognize that they need to follow New York State Vehicle & Traffic Laws that apply to them as well.

For more safety information visit the New York State Pedestrian Safety web link.


They should have done this a long time ago! Albany is the worst with people running red lights.

I hope this includes cracking down on the Albany cops who bike the wrong way on one-ways in Center Square.

I would think, that nearly as important as driver education, would be pedestrian and bike rider education. Pedestrians do *not* belong in the "median" of the road, when not in a crosswalk. Bikes do *not* belong on a sidewalk, unless they are being ridden by children (say, under the age of 13 or so). Perhaps more troublesome than most things, bike riders need to act like vehicles, not what I would generously describe as "opportunists" who are vehicles when they want the right of way, but "pedestrians" when they don't want to wait for red lights.

Yes, I have a lot of pent up unhappiness with the driving situations, why do you ask? ;)

We call it the "Albany red light" no stopping, just a roll up to the light; it causes much upsetedness in my household these rolling stops.

They will be monitoring. But not issuing tickets?

Am I still exempt from all traffic laws if I turn on my hazard flashers?

Andy: Thing is, badly behaving pedestrians and bicyclists are highly unlikely to kill other people. That's why drivers have more responsibility here.

I second (or third) the idea of hitting up cyclists heading the wrong way. I'm an avid cyclist and bike commuter, and other cyclists who think they're above the law (or who just don't care) cause danger, confusion and rage. Let's all follow the rules.

Send them to the intersection of Main and New Scotland any weekday afternoon. There's something about that location that makes people drive like idiots.

Since moving here several years ago, it's apparent that red lights and stop signs in Albany are merely suggestions. Trouble with cracking down on Western Ave violators is that the offending drivers switch to the unmonitored parallel neighborhood streets, and run those stop signs.

so are they finally realizing that enforcement of laws might actually go a long way?

Now start ticketing those who go through "orange" lights and people who double park.

Scariest intersection Madison and South Lake. I swear at least two cars go by after the light turns green!

Also--I think a lot of drivers need a refresher on how a stop sign works--if you are second in line at a stop sign--that doesn't count as your stop--you need to pull up to the stop sign, stop again, yield to other cars or pedestrians if appropriate, and then proceed.

My nomination for scariest intersection: New Scotland and South Main Avenues

Dare I bring 'Big Brother' into this, but what about an increase in the # of red light cameras? I would take 'safety' over 'freedom' in this situation.

it's about darn time!

This APD initiative is great. Yes, it's long overdue but better late than never. Just yesterday I had the light to cross at the intersection of Hackett and South Manning Blvd and at least three drivers making the right turn would not stop for me as I entered the crosswalk. I made a motion that I wanted to cross but still they passed in front of me. Finally, I barked "LET ME CROSS." The next driver stopped right in front of me, not happy with the fact that I made her stop.

Does anyone know how to contact the APD about particularly dangerous intersections? I walk/bike to work and have a couple that I'd like to report if it's possible.

As a driver and pedestrian I call total BS on the comment that car drivers bear more responsibility than bike riders. The chaos some bicyclists leave in their wake is pretty damn dangerous. The number of bad bicyclists out there is as astounding to me as the number of red-light runners.

The intersection of Western and South Manning is Bad Bicycle Heaven but it is far from limited to that spot. There is one in particular who enjoys weaving in and out of traffic on Delaware Ave without even looking at traffic lights.

An equal pox on all irresponsible traffic behavior.

I have become so convinced that Albanians consider red lights optional that I slow when the light is changing in my favor to be sure 2-3 cars (typically SUVs for some reason) aren't going to come barreling through while its red on the other side. Its silly but I don't want to be t-boned. Anyway, the most ridiculous example of this bad driving / pedestrian behavior happened last week. I was going down Swan Street to the tunnel under the ESP, and there is a pedestrian cross walk at Hamilton. A man was standing there waiting to cross. I hung a bit to the left like I usually do to avoid the big sinkhole manhole in the center of that downramp, and stopped to let him cross. There is a big yellow sign there that says so but its common courtesy too. To my disbelief, as I stopped, THREE cars (two SUVs) blew by me at high speed on the right. The guy was walking - in front of my bumper at that point - and thankfully he saw this and paused. One of these idiots actually hit the curb and went up on it for a moment, because his vehicle was too wide for the narrow space next to me he was pushing through. Why did they think I was stopping? To scratch? I wish this sort of thing wasn't a routine occurrence in this town - but I think there needs to be a major educational campaign AND enforcement because its a combination of complete ignorance and a "it doesn't apply to me" attitude we're dealing with.

For bicycle education information visit the Capital District Transportation Committee's bicycle safety website:

If anyone would like rack cards, posters or other information please contact us at:

Follow us on Twitter @capitalcoexist for regular bicycle safety tips and event announcements!

Hopefully they crack down on the pedestrian and cyclists who wander about in complete disregard of their surroundings every day.

Every day between 3-5, at Washington & Lark, there are probably 5-6 daily near misses of pedestrians who decide that running across the street without looking is just dandy. Then you get the folks who just stand in the intersection.

Then you have the cyclists who love to whine about cars, but refuse to follow any of the traffic laws themselves. There's a jerk who rides down State St. every morning who blows through lights without looking, hops up on the sidewalks (nearly hitting people) and likes to hang out in the middle of the road in front of cars.

Albany has many poorly designed intersections as well. Main & New Scotland is a great example -- the lack of lane markings, poor signage and bad angles are confusing, especially to drivers not familiar with the area. Madison and Lake has been a bad intersection of decades (literally -- a cop was t-boned there like 40 years ago) and needs some engineering.

IMO, the avenues need to be re-marked to "slow down" traffic when there is no congestion. If you bring the average car speed from 30-40 to 20-30, you improve safety. I'm not sure how you deal with the "critical mass" type pricks on bicycles who think they own the road though.

Per my experience:

Number of Albany drivers that stop at red lights: 99 in 100

Number of Albany bicyclists that actually follow traffic rules: 1 in 3

Number of Albany pedestrians that cross in crosswalks, know how to 'read' stoplights to determine when it's safe/legal to cross the street, and don't walk down the middle of Central Ave, head-on to traffic: 1 in 100

It might be easier to identify and ticket drivers that don't stop at red lights, but the problem is absolutely the ridiculous pedestrian / cyclist behavior. Drive down Central Ave towards Albany at 5 or 6pm on a nice summer day and don't get mad at the non-driving traffic. I dare you.

(Also, number of DPW guys in the vacuum street-cleaning carts that obey traffic rules: 0 out of all of them. I have seen these guys, on the sidewalk, blast full-speed across intersections while drivers are literally screeching to a halt on so many occasions)

Number of drivers chatting or texting on cellphones instead of paying attention to where they are heading as they barrel through intersections: 7 in 10.

My nominee for Hilariously Entitled Driver of the Month: I was standing at an intersection on the right-hand sidewalk, waiting to cross the street. The walk light turned blue and I started across. A taxi driver coming up behind me and trying to turn right blew her horn and screamed at me for... what, having the nerve to try getting around town under my own steam? Not running across when the light was red? I'll never know. I strongly support her for this award because she's never going to win anything else in life, trust me.

I can't believe no one has said anything yet on the insanity that is the Albany traffic light. Maybe those of you that were born and raised here don't see the peculiarity and failure on the part of the APD (or whatever department is responsible for programming the lights) but the fact that the lights here simultaneously turn red and green at the intersection without even a few millisecond pause is not normal anywhere outside of Albany. Making a simple correction such as a slight pause between red/green and slightly increasing the length of yellow (which is short in comparison to other places too) could really increase safety generally, and make people less frantic to speed up to fly through the intersection. For reference one of the places this phenomenon is especially apparent is on Madison from just above the St. Rose area down the corridor to Lark Street.

I agree with J above. Before moving here, I was used to stoplights that expected everyone to be stopped for half a second between changes before traffic commenced.

Here, I have to (1) wait after the light turns green so I don't get smacked by a car running the red light, (2) patiently accept the honking of cars behind me that want to go the second the light turns green, and (3) for whatever reason, yield to the first car turning left in front of me, but only the first one.

It's no wonder the rest of the country thinks you all are horrible drivers (because you are).

So I'm new to the area and keep asking my friends if stop lights here are just recommended rather than required...I'm not happy that the initiative has an end date of TODAY as I think this is an ALL THE TIME problem that should be monitored ALL THE TIME and also not happy that today I almost got hit by a box truck while I was attempting to go through a green light to cross over New Scotland. I happened to have waited in my side street because a lady was on the crosswalk on the opposite side of the road from me. If I had not noticed her right away I would have been in the intersection when a box truck with two idiot boys in it laughed while blatantly running a red light. The only thing that kept me from getting hit was the lady corssing when she wasnt supposed to be. What is up with the drivers up here? I've only been here since the end of August and I must see someone run a red light at least five times a week. And it's not usually that a light has just turned red, it's people who must see that there is already a red light and may or may not pause and then simply run it. This seems to me to be a problem on ALL streets, not just particular streets.

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine