A group of cyclists led by Mayor Kathy Sheehan celebrated Bike to Work Week Tuesday morning in Albany.
The ride began 8 a.m. sharp at the Pine Hills Library at a leisurely pace down the recently reconfigured Madison Avenue. It was just a few blocks before the police escort safely led the procession to Myrtle Avenue and on to the Downtube Bicycle shop across from Washington Park, where the mayor noted the event was a great opportunity to highlight what's happening along Madison Avenue. "Which is really being transformed. I can't wait until it's done completely. We can ride all the way down to Lark. And I want to stress that this is a project that is being done with funding from the state because we have a governor who understands that it's important to build bike infrastructure."
Albany's Complete Streets Plan was implemented to make Madison Avenue safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles. Fresh lines were painted along Madison from South Allen Street to Partridge Street, which included bike lanes, one in each direction. Phase Two, which begins in July, will bring the new configuration all the way downtown.
Common Council member Leah Golby has been a leading proponent of the project. "We're building an infrastructure. Albany is a city that we can bike to work. You can get where you need to go safely."
Some would argue the city has a way to go to catch up with bike-friendly cities around the country. Others think Albany is catching up nicely. Downtube Bicycle Works owner Robert Fullem: "Other cities around the entire country have found that biking, increasing biking, adding bike lanes, makes a huge advantage to the city. In Portland, Oregon, for example, the city did a survey of all the new people moving to Portland, which is a lot, and 62 percent, of the people moving to Portland said that the bike-friendliness of Portland was the primary reason they moved there. Isn't that something? And it's not just about that. It's about homeowner values. In Omaha, Nebraska and in Minneapolis-St. Paul, homeowners that own a house near a bike lane believe that their house is worth more the closer they are to the bike lane. And it's good for businesses, because, what New York City has found, what San Francisco has found and what Salt Lake City has found is that businesses that are near a bike lane do a heck of a lot better than businesses that aren't near a bike lane."
“I have so many wonderful biking memories: My Mom running alongside holding my bike as I gamely learned to ride. Later, riding my 3-speed ‘English Racer’ for summer evening water pistol fights with my brother. Then touring England with my Peugeot PX10 and riding throughout Southern Albany County and beyond on my full Campy chrome Frejus and road and track Paramounts; a 24-hour time-trial near Syracuse; touring the San Juan Islands and many camping trips through Vermont, the Finger Lakes and elsewhere with Marilyn or Don, Charlie and Steve; riding a tandem to Cooperstown and at many tandem rallys. Now it’s a Seven, and a folding Brompton for travel. And the life-long thrill continues.”