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Transport Us

To the Editor:

Thank you for your excellent series of transportation articles [“Step Away From the Car,” March 11]. There is only one real issue that I have with the articles, and it’s that your reporters did not mention that the Capital District Transportation Committee is required to seek public input on transportation planning issues as the regional administrator of the federal transportation funding. All of us that are interested in the issues of transportation access, and how well-thought-out transportation planning will impact the quality of our communities in coming decades, need to do our part to voice our concerns on these issues to the CDTC. I have found that John Poorman and the CDTC do reach out and solicit input. I suspect they don’t get many responses.

I was interested that your reporters had to seek alternative transportation models in cities as far away as Sacramento, when there is probably a better model located much closer. When I visited Ottawa, Ontario, I was amazed at the comprehensive nature and complete integration of their transit network. Ottawa is blessed with an elaborate bike-trail system that connects all parts of the region, urban and suburban, and has a system of dedicated busways, special bus-only highways that make bus travel fast and efficient, including a route from the airport almost into the heart of the city. It appears that Ottawa has gambled on the busways attracting development, and the gamble is paying off in creating those nodes of development that people in this area seem to feel we lack—justifying not building light rail or BRT. And Ottawa is building light rail, too. The entire system is integrated, with the light rail stations located at intersections with the busways, with the busways connecting to the bike paths, and all the stations are outfitted with bike racks, as well. In addition, there are bike rentals available in downtown Ottawa, to make it easy for visitors to enjoy all these facilities, too. We could learn a lot from Ottawa’s experience in providing many different, clean and efficient alternatives to the private car.

I’d like to add a note related to Darryl McGrath’s piece on bicycle usage. Existing bike facilities in this area could be used to a much greater degree if there were a general consensus among all municipalities that bike paths deserve the same degree of winter maintenance as roadways and sidewalks. I noticed (rather abruptly) during a ride shortly after Christmas that while Albany had plowed the riverfront bike path at the Corning Preserve, neighboring Menands had not. It defeats the purpose of trying to use your bike to regularly commute to work in this region when such a fantastic bike path is closed for a season because one community can’t get out there with a snowplow. I think the entire region suffers as a result.

Colin D. McKnight

To the Editor:

While I enjoyed your coverage of alternative transportation, I felt that the piece on bicycling [“Is There Room on This Road for Two More Wheels?,” March 11] missed an important point. Yes, bike racks are a great amenity and I look forward to seeing more of them around. And the “bikeable bus” program is a great step in the right direction (none of the buses I take regularly are part of this program, so I’d love to see it expand). But the one thing that would make my own bike riding much more safe and pleasant would be if the city dealt with the out-of-control pothole problem.

As was pointed out by Bill Bruce in the article, Albany’s old and narrow streets do not lend themselves to separate bike lanes. Sharing the road with cars doesn’t have to be such a huge deterrent, though. Some driver education might help a little, but consider this: Potholes often occur toward the right of the driving lane, which is where cyclists ride. If a bicycle’s front wheel hits a pothole at a decent speed, the rider may crash, even flipping over the handlebars. So in order to bike safely on a pothole-ridden street, one must either weave in and out among the potholes, or ride in the traffic lane. One of the first rules of safe road sharing is to ride predictably—in a straight line. So the second option is usually the better one. This inconveniences and confuses drivers (though it’s perfectly legal), who will often then harass the cyclist, and sometimes pass dangerously.

Add to the mix the fact that drivers are often trying to dodge potholes as well, to avoid the jarring and the stress to their vehicles. In doing so, they’re focusing too much on the road surface, so they may not see a biker, and they’re swerving in and out—further increasing the likelihood of a collision.

So while I don’t mean to belittle other measures, fill the potholes (making sure that they are done well to provide a reasonably smooth and safe cycling surface) and then move on to more complex ways to encourage cycling in the Capital Region.

Along those lines, my own highest priorities would be improved enforcement of speed limits on local streets, possibly including bike-friendly traffic-calming measures (no cobblestone, please!), and the creation of bike maps for each city in the region (NYC DOT produced one for each borough, with a citywide map on the flipside, in the late ’90s). Maybe there are also on- and off-street bike paths in our future, rebates for people who ride to work, or any number of other improvements. But first—and not just for the cyclists, but for everyone—how about keeping up with filling the potholes?

Emma Kramer-Wheeler

To the Editor:

10 Reasons to Ride the CDTA Bus—Not! [“Get on the Bus,” March 11.]

10. $500,000 pieces of junk (plastic and aluminum—no shocks).
9. Bus drivers who consider time schedules to be comedy relief.
8. Being held up for 30 minutes while driver loads/unloads the disabled.
7. Trashy and unkempt buses.
6. Trashy and unkempt bus passengers.
5. Drivers yelling out street names so that you can’t snatch a snooze.
4. Engine noise levels that are probably a health hazard.
3. Windows plastered over with advertisements.
2. Seating designed for alien midgets.
1. Bus company executives that wouldn’t know a bus if they were smacked by one.

Sammie Fantroy, Jr.

Girl, You Crazy!

To the Editor:

I am distraught in reading a response sent in by a Ms. Sheri Turton [“The Price is Wrong,” Letters, March 11].

She stated that fixing up the Price Choppers that are close to “minorities” and low-income residents is totally off base. The word “minority” refers to “groups differing especially in race, religion, and ethnic background, from the majority of the population.” So is she indicating that, because people are different from her, they do not need to be introduced to a nicer environment? Does she mean that “hiring decent, normal people” could not mean any of those people in the low-income places?

I am ashamed and appalled that, in the Capital District where our good Governor resides, and lots more politicians, people feel as bad as Ms. Turton does. You not only make me see why the snub-nosed citizens who work here don’t shop here unless they have normality waiting on them. I have also come to see that in order to be counted, one must live in a place that has a doorman greeting me.

Wake up! No matter what part of the track you come from, everyone deserves better. This is a wake-up call for me. I will shop more at the ghetto stores so Ms. Turton and her band of known shoppers will be graciously not coming in. They prefer nicer, decent people who are normal to wait on them. Even though I shop at Wal-Mart in Glenmont, I do feel that the price is right. We all need to eat and live, so stop your crying and realize we live in a country, I pray, with more than your reality allows.

Linda Reeder

Bagging Rights

To the Editor:

Go for the cloth grocery bag [The Simple Life, March 11]. I have five bags that can hold twice as much as plastic bags. The only problem with them is returning them to the car after I put groceries away. But that just took me a short time to remember to keep the bags in the car.

Remember, “reduce” is the first word in the slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle.” If you buy some bags, or get them free if you join some environmental group, then you never use any plastic or paper bags, and you avoid all the environmental problems associated with either of these products: No use of resources (oil or wood); no manufacturing or transport costs to the environment; nothing to throw away (or blow away).

Believe me, I’m not using the cloth bags to get a nickel off on my grocery bill.

Janice Rogers
West Sand Lake


On the page with the story “The Whole Truth?” [Newsfront, March 25], we ran a photo caption under Chief Robert Wolfgang’s picture that was very similar to a quote by Public Safety Commissioner John C. Nielsen, which was attributed correctly in the article. (The caption read, “It’s not what I said, it’s what I said: Police Chief Robert Wolfgang.”) We intended this caption to be a more general commentary on the article content, and not to misattribute that particular quote to the chief. We apologize for any confusion.

In last week’s food column [March 25], we listed an incorrect address and phone number for the restaurant Bourbon Street. The correct address is 2209 Central Ave., Colonie, and the phone number is 382-1110.

In last week’s review of Richard Thompson at the Egg [Live, March 25], a photo of Thompson was incorrectly credited to Joe Putrock. The photographer was actually John Whipple.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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