DELMAR – To the Editor:
A recent issue of a local magazine contained an article by Bethlehem Town Supervisor Van Luven urging support for the upcoming plebiscite on the proposed Delaware Avenue Complete Streets plan.
While I live in Glenmont, my office is in Albany, on Madison Avenue opposite Washington Park, as is my mother’s house. My brother lives nearby so from its inception I have had considerable experience with the Madison Avenue Road Diet. Although the Supervisor’s article did not reference the Madison Avenue Road Diet, Madison Avenue is precedential and shows the conditions to be expected if the Delaware Avenue Project is implemented. To follow is a brief summary of my personal experience with the Madison Avenue Road Diet.
- Eliminating a lane of traffic in each direction causes traffic to slow a crawl and back-up east and west during both the morning and evening rush hours. In front of my office and my mother’s house, traffic is backed-up a block and a half west from New Scotland Avenue. When I must stay at my mother’s house before going to a meeting, I avoid Madison Avenue as much as possible, even going out of my way to do so. At the end of the business day, I have been known to park back on Morris Street and walk up to my office or my mother’s to avoid Madison Avenue. Even during the day I have found that when leaving my office, my GPS will direct me off Madison Avenue as quickly as possible to avoid the street.
- The traffic back-ups during both the morning and evening rush hours encourage drivers to speed as they try to recapture time lost in back-ups; much worse is that I see the traffic back-ups divert motorists onto the residential side streets and make them more heavily traveled and at a faster pace as drivers increase their speed to make up for time lost in back-ups. I see many more cars traveling at greater speeds on Morris Street. At one point last May, a driver traveling at a very high speed lost control and hit a parked car on Morris Street near the back of my mother’s lot. There was considerable damage and car parts were everywhere; yet the vehicle careened onward onto South Lake Avenue where it finally stopped after striking another parked car. There are so many speeding cars on the streets behind Madison Avenue that it has been reported that Albany’s Mayor, Kathy Sheehan, is investigating the installation of speed bumps as has been recommended to her by the local Neighborhood Association. The precedent indicates that the streets parallel to Delaware Avenue will see increased traffic and speeds if the Delaware Avenue plan is implemented.
- 3. I question the assertion that the road diet will reduce accidents: I see more accidents because drivers are surprised by the sudden back-ups. In fact, in the first week of the Madison Avenue Road Diet I was rear ended while standing still in a back-up. Fortunately, the driver was able to reduce his speed; many cannot, and I have seen the resultant collisions involve parked cars in which the force of the collision was sufficient to lift the parked car over the
- The bicycle lanes are not only used by bicycles: I see wheelchairs, shopping carts, dirt bikes, four wheelers, unicycles, pedestrians and skateboards in these so called “bicycle lanes.”
- The directional arrows painted on the bicycle lanes are treated by users as mere suggestions. Users travel in whatever direction they wish, so the motorists entering Madison Avenue can no longer rely on the regular traffic flow, but must watch both directions for oncoming traffic from the bicycle lane. The worst are skateboards because they can turn on a dime, and frequently do! Often I have been surprised by the return of a skateboarder who has passed earlier out of my way.
- The lane that is described in official documents as the third or turning lane, in point of fact, serves as the “racing lane” for the high-speed motorcycles, dirt bikes, skate boarders and bicycles doing “wheelies,” since that lane is a wide-open lane from Lark Street to South Allen Street in both directions. Late evening and early in the night when I stay at my mother’s I hear the sounds of racing engines operating at high speeds approaching and then fading in the distance as they fly by. This lane is used this way even during the day. Truly, it is a terrifying experience turning onto Madison Avenue from a side street and being met by a wall of tires as a pack of bicycles or motorcycles comes at you traveling at high speed doing “wheelies.” The police cannot be everywhere at all times. One afternoon I witnessed three dirt bikes heading easterly in the Madison Avenue turning lane doing “wheelies.” They had their front tires so high in the air that sparks were flying from their back fenders. The precedent indicates that this lane on Delaware Avenue will be a high speed lane from the Normanskill to the Phillipin Kill.
I find it incredible that any neighborhood would willingly subject themselves to this ordeal knowing the experience on Madison Avenue. Respectfully, I disagree with Supervisor Van Luven that the program will increase safety. That is not my experience with the Madison Avenue Road Diet. I anticipate that the Delaware Avenue plan if implemented will be a boon to Crossgates, Colonie Center, and the shopping centers on Route 9W in Glenmont as motorists flee Delaware Avenue. Hopefully, the additional traffic on the side streets will not be comparable to that on Morris Street.
Jay Harold Jakovic, Glenmont
Editor’s note: This letter will appear online only. Our policy is we do not run political or voting issue letters in print the Wednesday before election day.