Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Monday, 13 February 2023 09:24

A Discussion of the Issues in Enhancing Union Avenue #5: Cyclists are not tethered to Bike Lanes – continued

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics
A Discussion of the Issues in Enhancing Union Avenue #5: Cyclists are not tethered to Bike Lanes – continued
[Jim Martinez responds to Ed Lindner]
How odd that the solicitor has chosen to continue this important discussion by getting personal.
I would have welcomed an address to the questions raised in my responses rather than be made aware of the resumes of consultants who found their way to our small city, charged with providing its sponsors with an alleged improvement of our streets for cyclists. In implying ulterior crafty motives and dodging the questions that I posed by pivoting to safer promotional materials and challenging professional experiences is beneath this discussion. This used to be called, “shooting the messenger” - I think it still is. Can we now expect the authors of all blog commentaries to be challenged to dismiss their concerns and opinions against those hired to promote their concept of life in our community? I certainly hope not.
With a program that includes a small percentage of our city roadways while the remaining roadways have been legislated to share the pavement, I must ask those questions that any resident or consultant hired to analyze the complete street dynamic might seek answers for. Has there been any celebration and recognition of the NYSDMV Chapter 11 legislation anywhere in this proposal? I imagine it created a bit of a headwind to have to recognize the opportunity to now share the road with other modes of transportation had addressed a long standing concern, only now with stated rules and regulations for all. 
In my experience, when solving problems, one starts with the large scale working down to the small scale. Before problem solving, the approach has always been problem seeking. Naming the problem and all its parameters is key to developing a successful solution.  
Have the proponents considered everyone in their approach to developing their solution? Suggesting that it is the collective we, who must now settle for a “share the road” reality is an odd reaction to an approach that the state has issued for all municipal streets in New York State. Are we somehow to believe that the proposed bike lane loop will collect all the cyclists of our city, so they do not have to settle for sharing the pavement as proclaimed? Can these cyclists be expected to venture beyond these lanes untethered to other destinations along the shared roadways?  
Suggesting the health benefits of cycling alongside the concerns of a warming climate under the umbrella of greenhouse gases while overlooking the larger picture of how most all sides of our existence on this planet contribute to them, is simplistic and patronizing. In referencing studies, it is always important to evaluate the criteria for that research.  
Choosing to ignore the inconvenient truth of vehicular traffic in the 21st century is delusional. The symbiotic relationship between where we live, how we get there and our dependency on that form of transportation for supplying us with most all our needs is nothing short of denial.
Many of us cycle for health and pleasure part of the year, and others with the proper accessory boutique kit can extend their season a bit longer. I believe that this myopic rationalization that cyclists will go from point A to B by first challenging the shared roadways to travel instead on a circuitous bike lane at best is part of this folly. Being indulged with selected data suggesting that retailers will increase their business along with the explosion of bike tourism is nothing less than targeted promotion.  
I should not have to repeat my earlier comments on the Complete Street Plan, but the latest response suggesting it creates a “safe, bikeable, and walkable” community sorely misses concerns for the pedestrian both ambulatory and non-ambulatory to navigate across our year-round city rights-of-way sidewalks while focusing on a dedicated cycling path in parts of the city.  
In summary, I must again offer these concerns as problem seeking, for consumption and evaluation to avoid trying to solve a problem without first gathering all the peripheral questions and addressing the potential collateral issues to best understand them.  
1.    1. Who was initially included in the targeted catchment of the preliminary surveys that chose to reduce the number of lanes on our streets?  
2. Were the property owners most affected who live next to all the proposed bike lanes surveyed for their responses? 
3. Have the Departments of Public Safety and Public Works reviewed the first preliminary proposals, signing off on them? This is different from asking them to respond to the results.  
4. What is the investment that the city is being asked to contribute on the construction and implementation of these bike lane connections? What are the costs estimated to maintain these lanes? What monies has the city received to start this program and/or to continue it? 
5. Who plans to take on the responsibility of the educational part that NYSDMV Article 11 presents its novice young cyclists without a motor vehicle license? 
6. How many city residents have bikes and have registered those vehicles with the Police Department? Over the last several years, has the use of the new bike lanes been noted and memorialized? 
7. How many tourists have used the seasonal bike rentals throughout the city? How often?  
8. How many residents would depend on bicycles year-round to go to work and what would be a reasonable distance be?  
9. Has the suggested replacement of the seasonal arterial traffic loading on this targeted two block section of NYS Route 9P (Union Avenue) from four active lanes to two been assessed by the DPS or the State if necessary? 
10. The city presently defines its system of roadways by width and volume (taken at peak times). Have we challenged their data and designations by altering the volume on this vital arterial street?  
In my earlier comments, I provided my opinion and suggestions on this two-block half-mile section of the arterial road, which stands for only a fraction (.034%) of the remaining shared roads that will be navigated by cyclists without lanes as prescribed. I can only hope that any further discussions will include a response to the questions posed for this discussion so as to be helpful.  

The Architect 
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