Van Rensselaer Boulevard, on a diet

We got a chance the other day to to head over to Van Rensselaer Boulevard in Albany/Menands and check out the road diet reconfiguration there.

The state Department of Transportation paved and re-striped about one mile of the road this summer, from Northern Boulevard to Menand Road. The new configuration reduced the number of travel lanes from four to two with a center turn lane, buffered bike lanes along each side, and wide shoulders. The speed limit is now 45 mph, down from 55 mph.

A spokesman for NYSDOT says there are still a few minor details to finish up, including some signage.

The goal is to make the street -- which borders a residential neighborhood -- friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists. It was the scene of two fatal crashes in recent years, one involving a pedestrian. Neighborhood residents had been pushing for changes to make the stretch safer. [TU x2]

Van Rensselaer Boulevard road diet middle

Walking along the newly reconfigured section, the road still feels *very* wide. And it'll be worth watching how the new lanes, along with the new speed limit, do or don't affect the speed of traffic. It reminded us a little bit of the situation along upper Washington Ave in Albany, where city dropped the speed limit dropped to 30 mph but, in our experience, the traffic still moves much faster, probably because the design of the road makes it feel like it should. (Driving at 30 mph along that stretch feels. very. slow.)

Madison Ave

The road diet idea -- to calm traffic by reducing travel lanes and adding pedestrian and bike amenities -- is also being applied on Albany's Madison Ave. The city announced that the second phase of that project -- which will extend the new configuration to Lark Street -- recently got started.

It'll be interesting to see whether these interventions are successful. In our experience, the reconfigured portion of Madison Ave feels much better than it did before and the transition to the old format is jarring. Will that be the case when the whole project is finished? And will traffic flow through there at a rate people find acceptable?

If the project does meet the goal, it wouldn't be surprising to see the idea applied to other streets. During the Rezone Albany neighborhood-focused look at the area around the downtown UAlbany campus, the idea of doing something similar along Washington Ave was floated. So it's something to watch.

Comments

I read the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt and it went in depth about how just changing stripes and speed limits won't change driving habits. That road feels like a highway and I think there's only the one stop light at Wards Lane.To really make a road more pedestrian- and bike-friendly you have to narrow the lanes, narrow the roads, put in a median, and/or put objects like trees closer to the road, so that it feels more like a local road. I think that is the tact they're going to take with Cohoes Boulevard.

If the intention was to make the road safer for pedestrians, why not put in sidewalks?

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Capital Region economic development grants: sewer systems, The Palace, Cohoes Canal Square Park, Capital Roots, and more

The Capital Region scored $85 million in the state's annual Region Economic Development Council awards/game show porktacular on Wednesday. The region was a "top performer"... (more)

High Mud Comedy Festival 2018

The High Mud Comedy Festival is set to return to MASS MoCA March 16-17. Tickets go on sale this Friday, December 15. (The museum's website... (more)

John Legend + James Taylor at TU Center

The Times Union Center is holding a "grand re-opening celebration" January 26 and the event is headlined by John Legend and James Taylor. Tickets go... (more)

Bon Iver + TU Dance at MASS MoCA

Bon Iver is set to play MASS MoCA March 24 and 25 as part of a collaboration with the dance company TU Dance. Tickets are... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: testifying, women's suffrage, the Albany Theatre, a principal monument, a snowy... (more)

Recent Comments

It's a definitely a start. Liking the thinking. The innovative redevelopment of unused/underused spaces only stands to benefit a city and its region, serving as an inspiration to others around the world. Mix that in with the addition of more parks, greenery and public spaces and you've got a higher quality of life across the board. ...

What's up with the Albany Skyway, and a few bits about plans to makeover a key piece of downtown

...has 7 comments, most recently from Greg

Nutella bacon bagel at Wired Coffee

...has 4 comments, most recently from C

Where to take a couples massage class?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Heather

Holiday gifts: Jammella Anderson

...has 1 comment, most recently from BS

Where to cut your own Christmas tree 2012

...has 9 comments, most recently from MB