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DRAFT Regional Bicycle Plan

DRAFT Regional Bicycle Plan

Public comment on the Regional Bicycle Plan will be accepted through February 16, 2021. To submit comments or request a paper version of the plan, please contact jack@agftc.org.

 

The text below has been provided to facilitate the use of screen-reader technology. For the full report, including images, tables, and appendix, please refer to the .pdf document.

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Bicycle Facility: A general term for any infrastructure specifically designed and/or designated to
accommodate bicycles; the physical surface on which the cyclists ride. These may include, but are not
limited to:

Bike Boulevard: Streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Bicycle Boulevards use signs, pavement markings, and speed and volume management measures to discourage through trips by motor vehicles and create safe, convenient bicycle crossings of busy arterial streets.
Bike Lane: A portion of a roadway designated by striping, pavement markings and signing for the preferential use of bicyclists. A “separated” bike lane, also known as “cycle tracks” or “protected bike lane”, is an exclusive facility for bicyclists that is located within or directly adjacent to the roadway and that is physically separated from
motor vehicle traffic with a vertical element such as bollards.
Multi-use Path: An off-road facility designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and/or other non-vehicular travel modes (such as in-line skates, horseback riders, or snowmobiles). These may be located within the highway right-of-way or an independent right-of-way. Multi-use Paths are always physically separated from motor
vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier.
Shared Lane: A travel lane of a street or road that is open to both vehicle and bicycle travel. These are sometimes supported by pavement markings, often referred to as “sharrows”. Unless specifically prohibited, bicycles are legally allowed to ride in the travel lane on all roadways in New York State.
Shoulder: The portion of the roadway adjacent to the travel lane that accommodates stopped/parked vehicles and emergency use. Standards have been issued for shoulders designed to accommodate bicycle use. These are sometimes demarcated with pavement markings to encourage use by bicycles; however, unlike bike lanes,
vehicles may pull over or park on a shoulder (unless specifically noted).
Bicycle Route: A roadway that has been specifically designated by the jurisdictional authority with directional and/or informational signage or pavement markings. It should not be implied that roadways not designated as bike routes cannot or should not be used by cyclists.
Bike Trail/Bikeway: A named alignment of bicycle infrastructure; may include on-road and/or off-road
bicycle facilities. Unlike a Bicycle Route, Bike Trails/Bikeways usually incorporate one or more roadways
and/or sections of Multi-use Path.

INTRODUCTION/GOALS
Project background
In recognition of the ongoing need to support and promote cycling, the Adirondack/Glens Falls
Transportation Council (A/GFTC) has prepared this Regional Bicycle Plan. The goal of this plan is to
support and encourage policies and projects that increase bicycling activity in the region. This
includes both the frequency that residents choose a bicycle over other modes of transportation and
expanding the regional network of bicycle infrastructure.
Cycling brings many benefits to our local communities, including:
* Increased mobility: Access to an affordable method of transportation expands the range of
opportunities for those without access to a vehicle some or all of the time.
* Improved health outcomes: Like any form of physical exercise, cycling offers a range of
health benefits, whether undertaken for recreation or transportation purposes. A recent study
in the British Medical Journal indicated that cycling to work was associated with a 41% lower
risk of death from all causes than people who drove or took public transportation.
* Decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: As part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce
GHG emissions, increasing the number of trips taken by bicycle and/or walking offers
measurable benefits.
* Economic development and tourism: Studies conducted along the Erie Canal Trail corridor
indicate that bicycle tourism represents a significant economic driver for communities located
along the trail . With the recent development of the Empire State Trail, which passes through
the A/GFTC region, the economic benefits of bicycle tourism in the area is likely to increase.

In recognition of the importance of bicycling, many communities in the A/GFTC region have
stepped up efforts to support the planning and construction of bike facilities. These initiatives
include adopting Complete Streets policies, hosting Complete Street Workshops, planning and
building new bicycle/pedestrian trails, designating local roadways as bike routes, and installing
bicycle lanes.
To build on and further support these initiatives, A/GFTC has prepared this Regional Bicycle Plan
to guide future improvements on a regional basis and to foster a more comprehensive network of
bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Warren, Washington, and northern Saratoga Counties.
This plan has been created with the guidance of a subcommittee comprised of local planners,
engineers, and cycling advocates, bringing a diverse range of expertise and perspective to the
resulting plan. This process is intended to strengthen ties so that partnerships can continue in the
future implementation of the priority projects.

Objectives
There are many local communities and advocacy organizations working to improve conditions for
cycling in the region. Although an MPO cannot undertake capital improvements, as a regional
agency, A/GFTC is uniquely suited to bring together the individual efforts of our partners at the local,
county, and state levels.
To this end, the following objectives were established for the Regional Bicycle Plan:
i) Establish priorities for future bicycle improvements, including general planning principles
and a Bicycle Priority Network, to foster the ability of cyclists to travel throughout and
between each community in the A/GFTC region
ii) Provide relevant guidance and data to support the improvement and expansion of the
regional bicycle network by local project sponsors and bicycle advocates
iii) Document and inventory bicycle improvement projects and provide a regional framework
for implementation by local project sponsors
The objectives and priorities set by this plan will have direct application within the A/GFTC
Transportation Improvement Program and Unified Planning Work Program. For our project partners
at the local, county, and State-wide level, this plan serves as an advisory document. It should also be
noted that recommendations for additional planning efforts or capital projects in no way obligates
A/GFTC or our partner agencies to action, nor does this plan obligate any planning or capital funds.

EXISTING CONDITIONS

The first step in any transportation planning process is to undertake an inventory of existing
conditions. This includes both physical features, such as bike lanes and multi-use paths, as well
as intangible elements such as policy, advocacy, and promotion for cycling activities. Safety
trends also play an important role. A thorough understanding of these conditions will provide a
realistic foundation to guide future efforts to improve cycling conditions in the A/GFTC region.
Policy
The A/GFTC region is made up of forty local municipalities spread among three counties. As such,
cycling priorities vary widely from community to community. Some municipalities take a very
active role in the promoting cycling activity, while others may provide more passive support. The
economic development, tourism, and planning departments in both Warren and Washington
counties are active in promoting biking opportunities and events. In Warren County, the Board of
Supervisors also designated a bicycle advocacy group, the Adirondack Cycling Advocates
(formerly Warren County Safe & Quality Bicycling Organization) that administers various events
and efforts throughout the county. In addition, many of the local municipalities support cycling
efforts through their planning and/or recreation departments. Community groups, such as
chambers of commerce, also play an active role in the promotion of bike activities.
Complete Street programs and policies are one way that communities have worked to support
cycling activity in the region. In 2011, New York State adopted the Complete Streets Act, which
legislated the consideration of Complete Streets features for a broad array of transportation
projects, including local projects that receive State and Federal funding. In addition, there has
been a groundswell of grassroots efforts in the region to promulgate Complete Streets policies
and procedures. Many local communities in the A/GFTC area have adopted Complete Streets
policies, undertaken demonstration projects, or hosted Complete Streets training sessions.
Advocacy and Promotion
In addition to municipal efforts to support cycling, there are several advocacy organizations that
promote cycling activities and/or trail improvements in the region. These include:
Adirondack Cycling Advocates (https://www.bikewarrenco.org/) — As stated above, the
Adirondack Cycling Advocates (ACA) is a not-for-profit organization that promotes safe and
quality bicycling in Warren County through active promotional events such as the annual Harry
Elkes ride, educational campaigns, advocacy efforts for infrastructure improvements, and direct
support for mountain bike and single-track trails.
Feeder Canal Alliance (http://feedercanal.org/) — The Feeder Canal Alliance (FCA) is a not-for-
profit organization created to preserve, promote and maintain the historic Feeder Canal, the last
remaining original canal in New York State. Although cycling is not the main focus of this group,
the FCA maintains the Feeder Canal Trail, a crucial east-west multi-use path that spans the
communities of Queensbury, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, and Kingsbury.
Cambridge Valley Cycling (http://www.cambridgevalleycycling.org/) – Though it does not act as
an advocacy organization, this recreational cycling club is affiliated with the League of American
Bicyclists and has over 100 members. CVC hosts many group rides and maintains cuesheets for
club rides throughout northern Rensselaer and southern Washington counties, as well as
Vermont.
Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group (http://champlaincanalwaytrail.org/) — The Champlain
Canalway Trail Working Group (CCTWG) is a volunteer, ad hoc partnership that includes local and
regional canal and trail groups, public agencies, and park and preservation organizations in
Saratoga, Rensselaer, and Washington counties. Champlain Canalway Working Group’s focus
since its inception has been the planning and implementation of the Champlain Canalway Trail,
which is part of the Empire State Trail system. As the trail segments are moving to completion the
group mission continues with the promotion, programming and stewardship of the trail.
Off-Road Trails
Often viewed as recreational amenities, off-road trails can nevertheless fulfill critical
transportation functions. By separating bicycles from vehicles, off-road facilities provide a more
comfortable riding experience for cyclists who may be uncomfortable navigating traffic.
The A/GFTC region is home to an expansive and expanding network of off-road trails. Since 2014,
the length of off-road trails has almost doubled, from 17 to just under 34 miles, and several
planned trail projects may increase this total in the next few years. A brief description of these
facilities is included below. See the associated online map for more information.

Bike Routes and On-Road Bicycle Facilities
Legally, cyclists in New York State may use the vehicle travel lanes of public roadways, except in
cases where bicycles are specifically prohibited (such as on Interstates). Some communities elect
to designate certain roads as official bike routes. It is important to point out that not all
designated bike routes have dedicated bicycle infrastructure. Rather, by designating a bike route,
a municipality is encouraging cyclists to use these specific roads. This usually is accomplished
through a municipal resolution followed by the installation of signage and/or pavement markers
to indicate the status of the roadway as a bike route. There are a number of reasons a
municipality might designate bike routes, including:
* To direct cyclists to roadways that are particularly amenable to bicycle travel (for example,
roadways with wide shoulders, low vehicle traffic, etc.)
* To provide an alternative travel route for roadways that are not conducive to use by
cyclists
* To highlight roadways that provide a good cycling experience (for example, those that
include scenic views, challenging hills, or other features)
* To provide on-road links between sections of off-road trails
There are currently about 100 miles of on?road bicycle routes, located on State highways and
local roads throughout the area. These include US Route 9 in Saratoga County, NY Route 197 in
the Town of Moreau, US Route 4 and NYS 22 (both are elements of NYS Bicycle Route 9), as well
as local roads in the Towns of Queensbury, Bolton, Lake Luzerne, and the City of Glens Falls. It is
anticipated that this network of on?road bicycle routes will continue to grow as local communities
adopt bike-friendly policies.
In addition, some local cycling organizations maintain recommended riding routes. These touring
routes are not supported by on-road signage; wayfinding is provided to individual riders through
GPS, printed maps, or cuesheets. For the most part, these routes are selected with recreation or
physical fitness in mind and may or may not support transportation connectivity between
communities.
Other On-Road Bicycle Facilities
In addition to designated bike routes, on-road bicycle facilities are becoming more common.
These can range from infrastructure that allots roadway space to only to cyclists and prohibits
vehicles, such as bike lanes, or shared-lane pavement markings (also known as “sharrows”) that
indicate that the lane is intended for use by bicycles and vehicles alike. These facilities might be
located on bike routes, but it is not necessary to designate an official bicycle route to include
bicycle facilities on the road. In the A/GFTC region, bike lanes have been installed on Hudson
Avenue in the City of Glens Falls, and shared-lane markings can be found on Broad Street.
In rural areas, road shoulders may also have pavement markings denoting bicycle use; in some
cases, these are referred to as bike shoulders. These shoulders are slightly different from bike
lanes in that vehicles are not expressly prohibited, as the shoulders may still be used by vehicles
to pull off the road for emergencies. Bike shoulders are also usually located along roadways
without curbs. A portion of Bay Road in the Town of Queensbury features bicycle shoulders, as
well as many of the on-road segments of the Empire State Trail.
Although it is not legally necessary to provide bike lanes or shoulders as bicycles are allowed to
“take the lane”, many riders feel more comfortable having the additional protection from traffic. In
urban areas with high volumes of bicycle traffic, separating the cyclists from the vehicles using
bike lanes can also support orderly traffic flow. In suburban and rural areas where roads have
higher posted speeds, shoulders allow people to ride a comfortable distance from the travel lane.
Safety Trends
In terms of transportation safety, the factors which contribute to crashes fall into several broad
categories. For example, vehicular contributing factors include mechanical issues with the car or
bicycle, while environmental factors might include slippery pavement or glare. Animal behavior,
such as deer running into the road, contributes to many vehicle crashes as well. But according to
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), on a national level, human
behavioral factors such as speed, alcohol, distraction, and poor compliance with traffic laws are
major contributing causes to bicycle crashes.
These national trends hold true for the A/GFTC region as well. Figure 2 illustrates the contributing
factors for bicycle crashes in Warren and Washington counties for 2015-2019, as reported by the
Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR). (The Town of Moreau and Village
of South Glens Falls, located in Saratoga County, are not included as the data is available on a
county-wide basis.) This indicates that human behavior, whether on the part of the driver or
cyclist, is the largest contributor to bicycle accidents by an overwhelming margin.

REGIONAL PRIORITIES

As stated previously, a primary objective of this plan is to establish priorities for bicycle
improvements in the A/GFTC region. These priorities can be used to inform the decisions of the
Planning and Policy Committees, as well as provide guidance to local municipalities, Departments
of Public Works, and NYS Department of Transportation for capital planning and policymaking.
The priorities for bicycle improvements include four categories: Safety and Comfort, Guiding
Principles, the Priority Bicycle Network, and the Priority Project Inventory. These capture
concepts at a range of scales, from broad policy recommendations to specific infrastructure
projects. This approach is also intended to allow for frequent updates as ongoing planning efforts
lead to design and construction.
Safety and Comfort
This document is intended to guide and foster the expansion of bicycle infrastructure throughout
the region. As such, safety is an overarching priority inherent in every level of decision-making
from policy to planning, design, and construction. A/GFTC’s primary focus regarding safety is
evaluation/planning and engineering; the MPO takes an active role in planning and funding
projects which improve the infrastructure on which cyclists ride. In addition, AGFTC can also
assist municipalities, traffic safety boards, and partner agencies with data analysis, education
resources, and technical assistance.
In terms of bicycle safety, the most critical engineering consideration is minimizing the potential
for conflicts with higher-speed vehicles. The risks for crashes and fatalities rises for vulnerable
roadway users such as cyclists and pedestrians once vehicle speeds rise above 25 mph. This is
not to suggest that complete separation of bicycles and vehicles is always warranted or even
desired; in certain circumstances, low-speed, low-volume roadways, such as bike boulevards or
quiet neighborhood streets, are relatively safe and comfortable for cyclists and drivers alike.
However, as vehicle speed and traffic volume increase, dedicated facilities such as bike lanes or
shared-use paths reduce the potential for crashes by limiting conflict points between cyclists and
vehicles.
However, bicycle safety is not merely about designing infrastructure to the minimum standard.
The perception of safety is a crucial factor. Simply put, many people would rather avoid cycling
altogether than have a stressful experience while biking. The perception that a roadway or
bicycle facility is unsafe is a key factor in determining whether a cycling experience is stressful. In
essence, it may not matter whether a road or bike facility meets the minimum standards for safety
if the riding experience still exposes cyclists to stressful interactions with vehicle traffic.
According to FHWA, exposure to high motor vehicle traffic speeds and volumes is the primary
contributor of stress.
The FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide estimates that 51-56% of people in the US are “Interested
but Concerned” when it comes to cycling. This group has “the lowest tolerance for traffic stress.
Those who fit into this group tend to avoid bicycling except where they have access to networks
of separated bikeways or very low-volume streets with safe roadway crossings.” The document
also estimates that only 9-16% of people are “Somewhat” or “Highly” Confident, i.e. cyclists
willing to ride in bike lanes, on shoulders, or with traffic. (The remaining portion of the population
is not interested in/not able to ride bicycles under any circumstances.)
A/GFTC therefore reasserts the FHWA recommendation that bicycle facilities be designed to
accommodate the “Interested but Concerned” category of user whenever possible. This will
increase the number of people on bicycles, itself a laudable goal. In turn, increasing the number
of cyclists increases safety. Decades of research indicate that bicyclist risk decreases as the
number of bicyclists increases. By increasing both comfort and safety, more people get on their
bicycles, creating a feedback loop which further decreases risk.
Guiding Principles
The following Guiding Principles are intended to influence the policies and planning efforts
enacted by A/GFTC. This can include project selection criteria for the Transportation
Improvement Program, planning efforts undertaken through the Unified Planning Work Program,
and collaborations with local and regional project partners.
1. Prioritize safe and comfortable bicycle access between neighborhoods and schools,
government buildings, retail clusters, and employment centers. As a transportation agency,
A/GFTC is primarily concerned with enabling the mobility of the region’s residents,
employees, and visitors. Any opportunity to improve bicycle access between the land uses
listed above, whether on- or off-road, will further enable people to access the necessities of
daily life without relying solely on vehicles.
2. Expand connections to the existing trail system. Without links to the larger regional network,
the benefit of an individual trail is limited to the immediate area. The rapid expansion of the
Empire State Trail/Champlain Canalway Trail, which also links to the Feeder Canal Trail and
the Warren County Bikeway, has created new opportunities to connect nearby community
centers to the regional trail network. In addition, significant progress has been made to
expand the Slate Valley Rail Trail in eastern Washington County, and there have been
numerous planning studies to connect Moreau Lake State Park to the Betar Byway in
northern Saratoga County. Fostering additional connections to this network will expand the
benefits to more parts of the region.
3. Continue to prioritize the maintenance/expansion of bicycle/pedestrian facilities in
pavement preservation project selection parameters. Pavement preservation/maintenance
projects usually replace existing facilities in kind. This leaves little or no opportunity to create
wider shoulders or road striping that benefits cyclists. However, many roads in the A/GFTC
area are already suitable for bicycle use. Given the choice between two equal candidates for
preservation funding, one that accommodates bicycles adequately and one that does not, it is
logical to give priority to the project that will benefit more than one mode.
4. Support incremental capital improvements, especially on the Priority Bicycle Network. All
too often, opportunities to make small, but meaningful, improvements can be overshadowed
by big-ticket projects and “all-or-nothing” approach to bicycle projects. The long-term goal
should be to provide comfortable, interconnected bicycle facilities throughout the region.
However, it is also important to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions in the
short term, taking into consideration factors such as logical termini and engineering
judgement. In rural areas, consider adding a foot or two of width to a narrow shoulder
whenever possible; in suburban and urban areas, if bike lanes are not feasible for an entire
roadway corridor, consider installing bike lanes for a few blocks to link important destinations.
These small changes can make a significant difference in the comfort level of a cyclist and tip
the balance towards a trip taken on the bike versus in the car.
Priority Projects
Although this plan has a regional perspective, multi-jurisdictional projects such as the Empire
State Trail initiative are rare, leaving the majority of improvements to occur in an incremental
basis within individual communities. This can result in a fragmented approach to implementation.
In addition, bicycle improvements are often included in a wide variety of plans administered by
different funding agencies, further splintering efforts to collaborate across municipal and
regulatory boundaries.
A/GFTC has therefore created a Priority Project inventory. This is composed of the online
mapping interface at https://agftc.org/bicycle-pedestrian/ as well as the project summaries
contained in Appendix 1. To create this inventory, A/GFTC reviewed recent planning efforts in
and around the region, focusing on efforts that originated from robust public planning processes.
In addition, projects were proposed for inclusion by the report subcommittee and the A/GFTC
Planning Committee. Any specific improvements that target bicycles were extracted from these
sources and summarized for inclusion in this report.
The map and associated Project Summaries provide a region-wide inventory of proposed
improvements. Though this information is primarily intended for use by the A/GFTC Planning and
Policy Committees, it is also intended to foster inter-municipal coordination and provide
transparency for residents and advocacy groups. In addition, the Project Summaries can act as
supporting information for grant applications to agencies outside of the A/GFTC purview.
This Priority Project inventory will be updated on an ongoing basis. Although the intent is not to
provide up-to-the-minute project tracking, it is anticipated that the summaries and map will be
updated to reflect major status changes to accommodate implementation in the future. In
addition, new projects will be added as needed.
Priority Bicycle Network
The Priority Bicycle Network represents the ideal system of on-and off-road trails to support
bicycle mobility on a regional basis. The Priority Bicycle Network, which can be accessed at
https://agftc.org/bicycle-pedestrian/, is based on routes identified in the 2014 A/GFTC Regional
Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, formulated from the input of local communities, regional cycling
advocates, and A/GFTC staff priorities.
It is not realistic to assume that every roadway will be the focus of bicycle improvement projects,
given competing priorities for other transportation modes. As such, the Priority Bicycle Network
identifies which roadways represent the highest priority for designation as bike routes and/or
capital improvements.
This network strikes a balance between the need for transportation alternatives within and
between community centers and support for a positive cycling experience. By prioritizing these
roadways, A/GFTC intends to provide a framework for future improvements that will result in a
more expansive and comprehensive network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the A/GFTC
region.
To assist our municipal partners in planning for capital improvements, the Priority Bicycle
Network online map contains a variety of data that can guide the selection and design of bicycle
facilities. This includes the number of travel lanes, shoulder width, posted speed limit, on-street
parking, and range of traffic volume. Existing dedicated bicycle features are also noted, as well as
bicycle route or on-road trail designation. The Implementation section of this report contains
guidance for the selection and design of bicycle features.

IMPLEMENTATION

At the MPO level, implementation of this plan will arise out of adherence to the Guiding Principles and,
as appropriate, planning or capital support for Priority Projects or improvements to the Priority Bicycle
Network. However, as stated previously, A/GFTC does not have regulatory authority over local policy or
capital planning. Therefore, the implementation of this plan will largely rely on local municipalities,
counties, and state agencies such as NYSDOT and the Canal Corporation.
The improvements outlined in this plan are extensive and will take a significant and focused effort to
accomplish. In addition, implementation will be at the hands of many different agencies. For on?road
facilities, the implementation lead is likely to be the roadway owner. For off?road facilities, a wider variety
of lead agencies is possible, such as local municipalities or recreation and open space groups. Any
projects that involve acquisition of easements or rights?of?way will also involve the landowners as a key
stakeholder.
In addition, local not?for?profit organizations and ad-hoc working groups, such as the Feeder Canal
Alliance, Adirondack Cycling Advocates, and Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group, may be able to
assist with ongoing planning, implementation, maintenance, community education, and/or fundraising
efforts. Collaborations between municipalities and community groups is encouraged.
The following sections contain guidance and recommendations for municipalities or community groups
seeking to improve bicycle conditions at the local and regional level.
Policy Recommendations
Complete Streets
As stated in the Existing Conditions portion of this plan, several communities within the A/GFTC
area have adopted Complete Streets resolutions or legislation. A/GFTC supports this effort and
encourages all communities, especially those with extensive roadway and sidewalk infrastructure,
to adopt a Complete Street Policy.
However, merely adopting a resolution does not improve conditions for cyclists. It is crucial that
Complete Streets policy be applied to land use decisions (such as site plan review and
subdivisions) and capital planning.
The Complete Streets Act (Chapter 398, Laws of New York) of August 15, 2011, requires state,
county and local agencies to consider the convenience and mobility of all users when developing
transportation projects that receive state and federal funding. However, this legislation applies to
planning, design, construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation projects; resurfacing,
maintenance, or pavement recycling projects are exempt from the law. In addition, the law only
requires that Complete Street elements be considered during project development; the law does
not guarantee that design elements will be included in the finished project. Although NYS is
currently considering ways to close this loophole, local municipalities can still take the initiative to
plan for Complete Streets elements even within resurfacing, maintenance, and pavement
recycling projects.
One common barrier to the implementation of Complete Streets policies is embedded in the
institutional capital planning procedure. Historically, municipalities did not consider the need for
bicycle improvements when selecting which roads to resurface. For very large communities with
extensive infrastructure, a formal Complete Streets audit, followed by an implementation plan, is
sometimes necessary to adapt capital planning procedures. However, in smaller communities,
the process may be as simple as applying a quick checklist, consulting the A/GFTC Priority
Bicycle Network map, and making minor changes to the restriping plans. A/GFTC can also assist
municipalities to find easy, cost-effective ways to integrate Complete Streets into existing capital
planning procedures. As stated previously, small-scale, incremental changes can result in
extensive benefits in the long term.
Maintenance/Spot Improvements
There are many opportunities to pursue small?scale improvements that also improve the biking
experience in the A/GFTC region. These “spot” improvements address issues that may not
require significant funding to complete. Several examples are included below.
Drainage grate pattern
The direction of the grating pattern on storm drains is an often-overlooked detail. Grate openings
that run parallel to the travel direction can cause havoc for thin bicycle tires. Ideally, grates should
feature a “bike?friendly” pattern. If this is not feasible, the grate should be situated so that the
pattern runs perpendicular to the travel direction.
Individual hazards
Potholes, cracks, and sudden changes in grade near utility access points and drainage grates
can be difficult for cyclists to maneuver, especially at night. In the short term, pavement markings
as specified in Chapter 9C of the MUTCD can help alert cyclists that a potentially hazardous
condition exists. These hazards can then be eliminated or minimized as the appropriate roadway
or utility project is undertaken in the future.
Pavement overlays
Even if no re-striping or widening is called for in a paving project, there may still be good
opportunities to improve conditions for cyclists. Ensuring that the seam of the pavement is
properly feathered and does not occur in the middle of the shoulder, will provide a smooth,
regular surface for cyclists.
Roadway sweeping
Patches of gravel, especially on corners, can pose a threat to cyclists. With the help of the cycling
community, it may be possible to identify areas where significant gravel accumulation is
hampering safe cycling. Targeted road sweeping can help to reduce the potential hazards.
Bicycle Racks
Although some communities require provision of bicycle racks during project development
approval, it can still be difficult for cyclists to find a safe place to lock their bike. Bike racks should
be provided near public buildings such as schools, municipal centers, and post offices, as well as
in public parking areas. Commercial businesses and employment centers can also provide bike
racks as a service to their customers and employees.
Bikesharing/micromobility
Although the primary focus of this plan is on bicycle infrastructure, another key consideration to
increase cycling is the availability of bicycles themselves. Many residents in the A/GFTC area who
want or need to own a bicycle already have one; however, simply owning a bicycle doesn’t
guarantee access (for example, employees and college students who commute by car may not
have access to a bicycle at their job or campus). Similarly, tourists who visit the A/GFTC area may
have left their bicycles at home.
At the most basic level, bike share is a service that provides bicycles for short-term use. Although
the idea has existed since the 1960’s, mainstream deployment began in earnest in the mid-90’s
and has gained significant traction in the last decade, helped in part by recent advances in
technology. Today, bike share is considered part of a larger platform of “micro-mobility” services,
which include other modes such as e-bikes and e-scooters. Although micro-mobility programs
were once relegated to large cities, smaller communities have also begun to adopt these
services.
Micro-mobility services can fill a variety of needs, depending on the target user group. This is an
especially important consideration for smaller communities seeking to maximize the potential
user base. For example, the system can be geared toward a student population,
employees/daytime commuters without access to bicycles, tourists, or any combination of the
above.
Before third-party vendors stepped in to fill demand for micro-mobility systems, the financial and
liability risk to establish a locally administered service was primarily on the program sponsor. In
the last five years, vendor-based micro-mobility services exploded in popularity around the
country, including into smaller cities in upstate New York. However, the drawback to vendor-
based approaches is the volatility of the marketplace. In the last few years, many independent
bikeshare vendors were acquired by large rideshare companies, notably Uber and Lyft. After an
initial expansion, these companies have drastically reduced or eliminated their micro-mobility
services. It should be noted that, given rapid shifts in technology, the availability of different
transportation modes, and current trends towards work-at-home and reduced tourist activity due
to Covid-19, the short-term feasibility of micro-mobility platforms may be difficult to predict.
From a long-term planning perspective, the pursuit of micro-mobility platforms may once again
become a priority. When considering the viability of micro-mobility services, the following factors
should be taken into account:
Target demographic
Before the feasibility of a bikeshare program can be estimated, the primary targeted users of the
service should be identified. In the broadest of terms, this group is made up of people without
immediate access to a bicycle, and who have the ability and desire to ride a bike instead of, or in
supplement to, other modes of transportation. In practice, this includes:
* College students. A common denominator among successful bike share programs is the
presence of a high number of college students, especially those who live on-campus or in
the community and lack access to a vehicle or bike.
* Tourists. Although some visitors to the area bring bicycles, for those that do not, access to
bikeshare may be a desirable amenity.
* Commuters. Although most employees in the region drive their personal vehicles to work,
some may choose to utilize bikeshare for quick trips at lunch or after work, either for
recreation/exercise or to avoid the inconvenience of having to find parking.
Service type
The earliest formal bike share programs were dock-based systems, wherein the bicycles were loaned
out from, and returned to, designated stations. This type of system is still used today, especially in
large urban areas. The benefit of a docked system is that users can enjoy a high degree of
confidence that a bike will be available at a specific location, especially given contemporary
technological tie-ins with mobile apps. However, if the stations are too far apart, the usefulness
declines, as people will be less willing to walk a significant distance to get to a bicycle. CDPHP Cycle!
in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs is an example of this type of system. Conversely,
dockless systems rapidly gained traction across the country in 2017-18, aided by the ability to track
the locations of bikes using GPS. These programs are almost always administered by third-party
vendors that developed the technology and apps to make the service possible. Most dockless
system requires users to download an app, both to pay for the rides and to find bicycles via GPS.
Dockless systems can result in reduced travel to and from a station, which is beneficial for
spontaneous bicycle trips or for one-way trips. To operate efficiently, a large number of bikes must be
deployed, to ensure relatively even distribution through the community.
Equipment type
E-bikes have significant potential to increase the accessibility of cycling overall by reducing
physical barriers to the activity. For example, e-bikes can make it easier to climb hills and
maintain consistent speeds. This can make riding a bicycle easier for people who might
otherwise face physical challenges with traditional bicycles.
E-bike rideshare systems are not without potential drawbacks. For example, the increased speed
of e-bikes may create safety conflicts. E-bikes are legally limited to speeds below 20 or 25 miles
per hour in New York State (depending on the type of equipment). This is comparable to the
maximum speed of a traditional bicycle. However, studies have shown that the average speed of
e-bikes can be up to 5 mph greater than regular bicycles. This could increase the potential for
safety issues, especially in locations shared by pedestrians such as multi-use paths.
Also, e-bikes tend to be more expensive, which may make shared services less affordable to low-
income residents. Shared Mobility Inc., a not-for-profit based out of Buffalo, New York, is currently
piloting an e-bike “library” system in communities across the state. This public-private partnership
may make access to e-bikes more equitable.
Municipalities seeking to establish bikeshare systems should take a proactive approach to e-
bikes and e-scooters. As noted in the sidebar, shared-systems which include e-bikes are
prohibited by default; municipal authorization, whether via resolution or local law, is required to
establish e-bike shared systems. Cost, equity, and potential safety implications of e-bikes in
certain locations should be taken into account when planning a rideshare system.
Geographic scope
It is unlikely that any single municipality within the A/GFTC region could sustain a bikeshare or
other micro-mobility platform on its own. However, expanding the service to nearby communities,
especially taking into consideration tourist destinations, could increase the feasibility of the
system.
Local Funding
The volatility of vendor-based platforms makes the question of local funding difficult to predict. At
one time, local funding was not necessarily a requirement to attract a micro-mobility platform to a
community. However, it is likely that a certain level of public investment will be required in the
future as new micro-mobility partnerships are brokered.
Marketing/outreach
The most successful bike share services are backed up by a strong public outreach effort. This
may include media/social media campaigns to introduce the system, as well as ongoing
promotion efforts. Community partners may play a key role in public outreach campaigns.
Guidance and Resources for Capital Improvements
One of the objectives of this plan is to provide guidance to local communities and advocates relating
to the siting and design of bicycle facilities. The online map of the Priority Bicycle Network was
created to facilitate these decisions. The map contains data about the factors that influence the
selection and design of bicycle facilities, including:
* Number of Lanes. For streets with more than two lanes, there may be opportunities to create
a “road diet”. This approach, which was used on the recent reconstruction of Hudson Avenue
in Glens Falls, reduces the number of lanes from four to three (two directional lanes and a
center turn lane), thereby freeing up space to dedicate for bike lanes.
* Existing Shoulder Width. This data was derived from digital mapping and is therefore
approximate; field verification should be conducted prior to design. In general, a 4’ minimum
shoulder width is recommended for shoulders that are intended to support bicycle traffic; this
width increases as the posted speed and traffic volume of the roadway increases.
* Posted Speed Limit. This data was derived from digital mapping and is therefore
approximate; field verification should be conducted prior to design. Vehicle speed is a crucial
factor when considering where and how to design bicycle facilities. In general, the higher the
speed, the more separation should be provided between cyclists and vehicles.
* Range of Traffic Volume. This data provides a range of expected Annual Average Daily Traffic
(AADT). As AADT data is collected on an ongoing basis, the exact number of cars per day is
not provided; refer to the NYSDOT Traffic Data Viewer or contact A/GFTC for the most recent
available traffic counts. Many of the resources listed in Table 2 recommend design features
and facility types based partially on traffic volume. For the purposes of the Priority Bicycle
Network, the AADT ranges are Low (less than 2000 AADT), Medium (2000-6500 AADT) and
High (over 6500 AADT).
* On-Street Parking. In urban areas and village/hamlet settings, on-street parking is often
available. This is a factor in the selection and design of on-street bicycle facilities, as there is a
potential for conflict between cyclists and car doors opening suddenly, or parked cars pulling
into and out of traffic.
This data is helpful to narrow down the range of potential options for dedicated bicycle facilities. Not
every roadway will require a dedicated bicycle facility. Low-speed roads with low traffic volumes may
operate adequately as bicycle facilities without any physical alterations. Similarly, for high-speed,
high-volume roadways, it may be preferable to move bicycle traffic off the road entirely by building a
multi-use path. Many, if not most, decisions regarding the selection and design of bicycle facilities will
require a tradeoff as various factors are weighed against each other.
Since the last Regional Bicycle Plan was updated, new materials have been developed to help
communities select, design, and build better bicycle facilities. As these resources are updated on an
ongoing basis, they have been incorporated by reference into this plan to prevent the
recommendation of outdated guidance. Table 2 outlines selected resources for bicycle project
planning, bicycle facility selection, and/or bicycle facility design. Additional resources can be found at
the A/GFTC website: https://agftc.org/bicycle-pedestrian/.