Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Thaw

My friend Phil and I have a tradition of meeting outside his building and going for a walk around his block once a month. Last Wednesday was a great day for a walk. All the snow had melted, and the temperature was balmy.

Phil and I bonded several years ago when I learned that he attended Alfred University in the early 1970s - at roughly the same time my dad did. I was a very little kid at the time and we lived in Alfred and a few of the other small Allegany County towns. I'm pretty sure that our paths never crossed back then, but I was too young to remember much. You would never guess that Phil is 60-something -- he doesn't look a day over 45. He makes sure to visit the gym, read books, get fresh air, and listen to the opera. Phil is a left-leaning activist and member of the Unitarian Church who spends plenty of time signing petitions and doing his part to turn the U.S. Senate and the House blue.  He adores Hilary Clinton and does not hold it against me that I was a Bernie Sanders delegate.

Phil is also blind.

Even though Phil is blind - he detects when there is litter along our walk. And I don't think there has ever been a day that we've ventured out and didn't pick up at least one item of trash that was in our path on the sidewalk -- usually on Quail St or Hudson Ave -- pizza boxes are common, and so are plastic bags. One thing that frustrates Phil to no end is LITTER.  Wednesday had 2 additional factors that didn't help (i) all the snow had melted and revealed several weeks worth of litter that had been buried and (ii) it was the day after garbage night -- when inevitably there is some trash that escapes from cans and trash bags.

As we were walking, I noticed one of Phil's new South Lake Ave neighbors outside picking up litter. I thought to myself, "This will give Phil hope in his neighborhood!" and so, we walked over and I introduced Phil to John Clarkson, the former Bethlehem Town Supervisor who recently moved to the heart of Albany. Phil was delighted that a new neighbor was out pitching in with the litter problem. Phil, is a very recognizable person, and John Clarkson told Phil that he had seen him at the Unitarian Church in the past. I think this made Phil happy, I have found that Phil appreciates being known. 

John Clarkson isn't the only one cleaning up his neighborhood. The Pine Hills Improvement Group has been working with UAlbany student groups the past several years on a series of bi-weekly clean-ups that the students perform Sunday afternoons on Hudson, Hamilton, Quail and Ontario. They were scheduled to start their spring cleaning in mid-March, but since the snow melted and the weather has warmed up, the first group plans to head out this weekend.  

Warmer, longer days and seeing neighbors pitch in to spruce up their block has been brightening up these final days of February!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Seen: Good Samaritan who drives a Honda Odyssey

Seeing small acts of kindness gives me hope for humanity. Friday afternoon at about 3:40, I gained some hope on Central Ave and Partridge St in Albany near the bus stop.  Here's a Google Maps photo of the area.

But it didn't look like this on Friday. Not at all. It was a busy time of day with a whole lot of traffic, and several of us pedestrians -- and also that afternoon there was snow and slush all over the street and on the sidewalk. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In support of a year-round walkable city

Tonight at 5:30 in the 2nd floor court room of City Hall the Common Council's Law Committee will be meeting to discuss my proposed changes to city code designed to help address Albany's unshoveled winter sidewalks. There will be public comment -- feel free to attend. Click here to read the proposed changes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I've earned my degree!

It takes 4 years to get through high school. 4 years to earn a college degree. And I think it takes 4 years of choosing to be carfree in Albany to embrace the challenges that go with it. Yup, I've earned my carfree degree!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ringin' Up My Bus Pass Savings

I've mentioned here and elsewhere that I find it very hard to resist a good deal.

Last Monday was Transit Awareness Day, and I was the rider representative hangin' with transit folks from around the state as we made visits reminding state legislators and staff that through all that's going on in their world, New Yorkers across the state depend upon affordable public transit to get to work, to medical appointments, to school and to the grocery store every day.

By about 1 p.m., I was in need of caffeine, and we were standing in the hall between appointments when CDTA's Carm Basile mentioned to me that the next day they'd be announcing a deal with Price Chopper and their AdvantEdge program. Carm said that customers would be able to use their AdvantEdge saving to get discounts on a few of CDTA's bus pass products. Golby's interest piqued.

It must have been 10 minutes later when CDTA's release about the Tuesday press conference hit my email - but the nitty gritty details of the savings were not included.

Still, the anticipation of potential bus savings was an energy boost in itself.

Tuesday's announcement sounded good to me, I'd been interested in fare media similar to the 31-day rolling pass since before the 31-day became available, but never interested enough to spend $65 on it, so this was my chance to check it out.

Tuesday night, I was at the Madison Theatre for a meeting of the judges of the Knickerbocker Film Festival, and I got out of the meeting with just enough time to get to Chopper's Customer Service Desk before its 9 p.m. closing. I whipped out my AdvantEdge card and told the clerk I wanted to buy a bus pass with the new discount. She told me that unfortunately, she couldn't sell me a pass because they were only sold between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. when the corporate business office was open, but she could tell me how much savings I had earned.

$38 in savings. Sweet.

Wednesday afternoon, I returned and made my purchase. The first 31-day sold at Madison Chopper.

As I mentioned on Roger's blog, I think this new partnership between CDTA and the Chopper is a win for everyone -- even for those of you with cars, who want to live life a little more green-ly once in a while. The 10-trip pass is a good vehicle to check out life as a public transit rider.

Now let's hope Price Chopper figures out how to sell the passes after 5 p.m. and on weekends, so that those who work 9-5 can take advantage of the savings.

UPDATE - 3/10: I stopped into Price Chopper yesterday afternoon and asked if they've been able to extend the sale hours for CDTA passesbeyond Monday - Friday from 8-5. The answer: YES. The helpful clerk told me they can also sell them on weekends from 10-4.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back to the Blogosphere

Now that campaign season is over, and the mayor is back on the radio Friday mornings, I'm thinking it's safe for me to poke my way back into the blogosphere. I'll continue to post personal essays here about navigating our region without a car, and by January, when I begin my new job, I'll start up an additional blog - a digest of relevant news for Albany's 10th ward residents.

Here's a brief update of my life over the past 5 months:

I was sad to learn about hip hip hoo-Ray's sudden departure from CDTA and hopeful when the Board appointed long-time CDTA employee Carm Basile to lead the transit agency,

I managed to squeeze in a few bus, bike and car adventures away from the 10th ward,

my daughter hand-standed her way through the summer of campaigning,

the yearly battle against the crows began,

the trees turned all kinds bright colors

Now the branches lay bare, and they are perfect perch for the crows we love to chase away.

It must be November.

Albany's first bicycle master plan is complete. If you haven't yet submitted comments - do it now -- today is the last day to submit -- until 3 p.m., according to the new Bike Blog on the TU website.

Submit your comments here:

City of Albany
Department of Development and Planning
21 Lodge Street, Albany, NY 12207
Phone: 518-434-2532 x33

I only started riding a bike in Albany this past spring. I was terrified of cycling on Albany's streets. Now, I ride cautiously. Sometimes, I commute to work by bicycle. Up Western Avenue. That can be harrowing.

My friend Barry only rides on the sidewalk in Albany for safety reasons. As a pedestrian, sidewalk cyclists drive me crazy. Barry says he is very careful when he approaches a pedestrian from behind so as not to startle them. I haven't yet mastered that art, but there are times when I find the only way I'll get to my destination safely is by riding on the sidewalk as well.

A few months ago, I was speaking with an old friend who is part of this bicycle master plan process. I fessed up that while I know I'm not supposed to, I will sometimes ride my bike on the sidewalk because it's just too scary to ride on the street. He then told me about a poster he had seen and said to me, "Oh no, Leah - Don't be that guy!"

I didn't realize until my friend Brian sent me this article that in the world of cyclists, there is a big debate about sharing the road with cars vs. designated cycling sections.

For me, it's about feeling safe. This past Sunday morning, at 9 a.m. when traffic was slow, I was running an errand on my bike and I felt safe to ride on the street. I was riding with my left arm stretched out signaling as I approached the intersection to make a left turn from S. Main to Myrtle Avenue. A motorist behind me thought that it would be a good idea to go into the oncoming traffic lane to pass me immediately before I made my left turn.

Screech of brakes.

He managed to slow his vehicle and not hit me as I made the left turn and didn't lose my balance. Phew.

After my heart settled back into my chest and I was peddling home, I thought to myself, "Does this guy really not know his hand signals???"

The folks in the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association have been advocating for changes to Madison Avenue to be part of the Bike Master Plan. I would love to see the Madison Avenue traffic calming plan implemented as an early part of the bicycle master plan -- it would improve walkability, traffic safety and bicycling in my neighborhood.

Until we do something to calm the traffic, I'll continue to be "that guy" ... riding my bike along the sidewalk on Madison.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Campaign Season

I pay attention to politics.

I get involved. I work on campaigns.

And now, I've decided to run for office myself.

This is a personal blog - not a campaign blog. For a candidate, on the campaign trail... the line that separates personal and political can be very fine.

In an attempt to make things clear and simple, I won't be writing blog entries here during campaign season.

I do hope to...

see you on the bus,
or the bike
or at the Normanskill!

- Leah