Meeting to talk about two alternatives for the Madison Ave Road Diet

Madison Ave at St Rose 2015-07-29

The city of Albany has a public meeting set for March 9 at Saint Rose to discuss options for the Madison Ave Road Diet. As you know, that's the project to reduce the number of traffic lanes along the corridor and, perhaps, add some sort of bike lane.

Blurbage from the meeting flyer:

The City of Albany is progressing a Locally Administered Federal Aid project to design and construct a road diet along Madison Avenue from South Allen Street to Lark Street. The project will reduce the number of travel lanes, while improving bicycle accommodations and completing all work between the existing curbs. The purpose of the meeting is to review concepts and trade-offs for two feasible alternatives and to obtain public input on the preferred Complete Streets solution.

Update March 7: From a new press release from the city Monday: "The meeting will present the preferred Complete Streets alternative, including the selected bicycle infrastructure."

The path to this point hasn't been a straight line. After the city presented five options for the road diet last summer, it scheduled a public meeting last November to present proposed plan -- and then the meeting was cancelled.

One of the most vocal groups leading up to road diet decision was a coalition pushing for protected bike lanes along the corridor -- these would lanes that are separated in some way from car traffic, either by some sort of barrier or parked cars. The argument for these lanes is that they are not only safer for cyclists, but they also feel safer, encouraging more people to bicycle. The argument against is that they could cut into the number of parking spaces available and would be more costly to maintain.

It appeared at the time, based both on the earlier public presentation and unofficial word circulating, that the city was probably leaning toward "regular" bike lanes rather than protected bike lanes. But then the meeting was cancelled and the city said the road diet was getting further review.

So... it'll be interesting to see which options are presented at this meeting -- and the arguments made for and against those options.

The public meeting is Wednesday, March 6 9 at 6:30 pm in the Lally School building (1009 Madison Avenue) at Saint Rose.

Earlier on AOA: A new pitch for protected bike lanes in Albany

Comments

I am late to the game of this, but why on earth would they want to reduce the number of traffic lanes? That corridor is busy enough, can you imagine the traffic nightmare it would be if there were less lanes? It will cause delays beyond belief, and will cause even more traffic along parallel roads. Vote it down, stupid idea.

Thanks! Wednesday March 9th, right?

Editors: Yep. Fixed. Erf.

I agree Nick.
There' s lots of business on Madison Ave.
Deliveries, emergency vehicles, and buses ( like my Star bus) would have a really hard time
Just lower the speed limit!
There are FOUR empty stores on the next block, and one on my block.
I am sure the city doesn't want more business owners to leave because of parking, or not being able to get deliveries made!

Nick-

The idea is that there is already a significant web of roads for people to commute down, and that having one road (that's already relatively slow and quiet with a plethora of businesses and that connects the downtown area with the main neighborhoods) more accommodating to bicycles would be an overall improvement to the quality of life for the people that live in Albany. A current lack of bicycles on that road is not an indication of a lack of interest, but rather a lack of safe spaces for bikes to be.

H-

I hear you regarding bike lanes, but this is not a viable solution. There is not a significant enough web of roads to justify decreasing the amount of lanes on Madison. I will attend and speak against this. There needs to be a different idea, this one is not good.

If they're ultimately going to make the effort to put in the bike lanes, I believe they should go all the way by protecting them so that people actually WANT to use them. A couple of painted stripes and a bike-logo aren't going to make me feel that much safer, especially considering the amount of in-and-out business traffic that you already have to be hyper aware of.

Two lanes with a center turn lane and updated, timed, traffic lights would actually improve traffic flow. There are so many accidents and near accidents from people turning left right now. Traffic also gets backed up in those left lanes and it's very frustrating. Studies in all sorts of cities suggest business actually improves with protected bike lanes. More people are actually connecting to the neighborhood, stopping to see stores, etc. than when people just speed by 40 mph. Madison really needs a redesign. It was never intended to be four lanes with parking on the sides. It just doesn't work now. The original design was in the early 20th century when a streetcar was in the middle with two lanes on each side.

I ride a bicycle in Albany. I've read the arguments for a protected bike lane. Proponents are trying to compare Albany to places like San Diego, and are touting slowed-down automobile traffic as a POSITIVE (!) effect. I don't see the bike ridership to justify this, and I don't believe "build it and they will come." Our cash-strapped, crumbling city needs to prioritize the needs of the many before indulging the wants of the few.

The Madison Avenue community is composed of many neighborhood people who use our sidewalks, crosswalks, and roads. Pedestrians, walkers, runners, skateboarders, bicyclists, handicapped persons, delivery people, emergency and service vehicles, buses, and on-street parkers, as well as the 15,000 + commuter cars a day enjoy using Madison Avenue in its current efficient 4 lane configuration. Improving Madison Avenue without negative effects to traffic flow, efficiency, safety, and the convenience of all its users must be carefully considered to implement successful changes to the streetscape.

Perhaps there are other things that could be done to improve mobility and safety concerns without major changes when we repair and update Madison Avenue’s old infrastructure. Please consider these possible solution to help reduce congestion and improve efficiency and traffic safety!

1) Roads should be smooth with no potholes or bumps 2) Roads should be properly painted and striped; crosswalks, stop lines, bus stops, street corners, parking parameters, fire hydrants … shared bike lane markings
3) Review, replace and upgrade road traffic signs
4) Address street lighting deficiencies 5)Coordinate traffic stop/go signal lights
6) Major intersections need walk/don’t walk signs
7) Install red light cameras
8) Enforce traffic: speed,cell phone use, violations more rigorously
9) Change outdated street parking rules
10) Change speed limit to 25 mph and enforce
11) Re-educate motorists, pedestrians and especially bicyclists on laws and safe traveling
12) Plan for future increases in road use (eg. AMC and SUNYA expansion)
13) Expand residential parking permit system where necessary to calm commuter impact

Implementation of some or all of these improvements will help solve traffic safety, accident, and efficiency problems on our old and busy Madison Avenue for everyone. Please consider leaving Madison Avenue’s 4 lane structure as it is; it works and can accommodate the current high volume of traffic and future increases in traffic.

Nick, while Paul is right that this would most likely improve or have little effect on traffic flow, and as far as I know, all the studies have backed that up, this corridor is so dangerous for pedestrians that if you're sitting in gridlock at 5 mph every day it would be worth it. This city needs to tame its drivers, and this is a great start. (As a bonus: have you ever driven down this road, with psychos weaving in and out of lanes? Drivers will benefit, too, even if they have to *gasp* go a little slower.)

I support the interest in making biking safer and appealing, however the proposal for that stretch of road is not feasible. There is too much regular traffic and don't forget emergency vehicles needing to get to Albany Med in a hurry. Good idea. Wrong road.

It's easier for emergency vehicles to get through traffic with a center turning lane. Don't understand this objection.

I am glad this may finally happen.

To those who think this will slow down car traffic: Believe it or not this may improve the flow of car traffic even if the cars are moving slower.

And we DO need to stop some of the insane driving that happens in Albany. I like to drive, I like to bike, I like to walk. Our streets need to accomodate all three.

I suspect the city might be in better shape if it took better care of residents rather than catering to suburbanite commuters.

Parking, for example, is an inefficient use of space. At best, it employs an attendant or two. The same area of small businesses would employ a lot more people.

Designing streets for the people that live and work on them rather than those who want to leave would improve the quality of life and attract new residents.

Road diets cut crashes by 20 to 50%. Isn't that worth a little delay?

Road diets have worked all over the country. Why works Albany be different?

Thank you Bob P.!
Hope you come to the meeting, and call the traffic engineer.
I was the one who suggested red light camera and now , we have it at Madison & Quail .
I also mentioned a lower speed limit.
My parents owned property on Madison Ave when i was born,and my family still owns it.
So, i have seen a lot of change in my neighborhood
I think they should register & license bikes.
After all car owners have to do it & it helps pay for roads!

"I think they should register & license bikes."

Just stop it. Bikes aren't cars. Not to mention the expense and inability to enforce.

I love how it's the same story in the comments every time the issue comes up. Same tired criticisms that simply havent played out in studies of road diets elsewhere. @Zed, yeah, albany must be special. There's no way what works virtually everywhere else for the benefit of all users could possibly succeed here.

"....yeah, albany must be special. There's no way what works virtually everywhere else for the benefit of all users could possibly succeed here."

Well, there IS our idiotic political class that makes us special, but not in a good way. ;) They really can screw up stuff that works well in other places. Elections, for example.

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