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
Email: AlbanyBikePlan@cdtcmpo.org

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.


tixie said...

the answer is NO! Drivers do not know hand signals - at all - I myself forget them sometimes! Especially kids, I can guarantee none of my cousins learning to drive now know hand signals...

tixie said...

Oh, and - welcome back and congrats!

barry goldman said...

crows, we want crows. we love crows. thousands and thousands of cackling crows.

and they are quieter and cleaner than cars!

Brian Levine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nancy said...

Welcome back, Ms Qualities of Life...

daleyplanit@gmail.com said...

Howdy, neighbor... or should I sa, Hon. Neighbor :)

I've bike a few times back and forth to work in the past (I work on Elk and live a few doors down from you. In the last couple of months I've been religiously riding back and forth to work and for nearby errands. I'm ready to jinx myself, but not once have I come accross an inconsiderate driver. I had a crazy person walking down Washington tell me he hates Albany would beat me up if he could catch me, but it's been great. I never thought I'd call Albany drivers "considerate" but my rides have been calm, traffic or not. I hope it continues. I think the plan, and infrastructure improvements that have been made will help advance our cause for choice in transportation and make it safer, more confortable, and more fun, for those people on the fence when it comes to bike communiting. I'm glad to have you on the council and look forward to hearing your ideas on mass, and non-motorized transit!

Brian Levine said...

Thanks for posting a link to the article I sent you covering the debate between "vehicularists" and "facilitators." Glad you enjoyed it enough to post it.

I like the "Don't be that guy" poster you showed.

I have mixed views on this issue (of biking on roads vs. sidewalks). I personally would be too scared to bike on many of the streets in Albany and would prefer dedicated bike paths. But lacking dedicated bike paths, I think it would be safer to bike on the sidewalk as long as the cyclist is careful.

That said if cyclists do ride in the road they really should try to follows all the rules. I thinks it it is safer for everyone that way.

Roger Owen Green said...

You got a new job? Hadn't heard about that.

I ride on the road. But I gotta say that marking on Washington Avenue stating it's the bike section filled me with no comfort AT ALL. I'll ride on the sidewalk only when I'm feeling nervous - Lark St at rush hour, Central Avenue from about Everett westbound. But the pedestrian has the right of way and I ride as though they know I know it (which other sidewalks cyclists give me the "'cuse me" one second before they almost run me over...