Press-Republican

October 18, 2013

City of Plattsburgh considers adding bike lanes

By JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A group of residents and business owners are urging City of Plattsburgh leaders to consider adding bicycle lanes to a busy north-end street.

“The road is four lanes of traffic, and some cars just gun through there,” Diana Wardell, a member of the citizens’ group Plattsburgh Acquiring Safe Streets, said at last week’s council meeting.

“It’s not safe for bikers and pedestrians.”

The group would like to see designated bicycle lanes added to a 3/4-mile section of Margaret Street from Georgia-Pacific to the city line just north of Scomotion Creek.

The new lanes, the group says, would help connect the Karen Fleury Memorial Bike Path north of the city and the Terry Gordon Memorial Bike Path on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property.

WOULD FUND STUDY

It would also make biking on Margaret Street safer, help motorists realize the area is residential, as well as business and commercial, and it would eliminate the need for bikers to ride on sidewalks, potentially disrupting pedestrians, they say.

The group presented Mayor Donald Kasprzak and the council a detailed booklet with a wide range of information about bike paths in general, letters of support from a dozen businesses and housing developments and a petition with about 350 signatures.

The group also offered to pay about $5,000 for an official traffic study of the corridor to see if adding bike lanes could feasibly be done.

“We are not just another self-interest group with an agenda that comes here to complain,” Wardell said.

“We wanted to come here with a solution.”

‘WOULD CONNECT PATHS’

Included in the packet supplied to the council is a link to a seven-minute video about the street in question and how implementing a “Road Diet” to slim the vehicular lanes and add bike lanes could improve traffic for both motor vehicles, as well as bikers and walkers.

Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2), who is running for mayor as a Democrat, appears in the video in support of the idea.

He explains in the clip that adding bike lanes would not only connect the Fleury and Gordon bike paths, it would attract more tourists and make traveling safer.

“And it could help create a more vibrant community,” he says in the video.

He also said that creating more opportunities for bikers is critical as the city moves forward.

“Biking is a mode of transportation,” he said. “It’s not just for recreation.”

‘WORTH LOOKING INTO’

Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4), who is running for mayor as the Republican and Independence Party candidate, said exploring the idea of adding bike lanes to Margaret Street is worth looking into.

He said his concern, however, is taking away vehicle lanes in an area that is poised for more development. He noted that the City Beach and the former North Country Shopping Center could see substantial development in the future, which could create more vehicle traffic.

“We need to be sure we are not trading one situation for another,” Calnon said.

“But this is something that we can try and see how it works. The price is basically only the cost of some paint.”

COMPLETE STREETS

Independent mayoral candidate Chris Rosenquest said he would like to see bike lanes installed on that section of Margaret Street.

“I believe this is just the first step in adopting a citywide Complete Streets policy,” he said.

Rosenquest said he has been campaigning to create a commission that would define a comprehensive biking plan for the city. It would include adopting the Complete Streets policy and defining a plan on that policy.

“I will also work with the New York Bicycling Coalition as well as the Town of Plattsburgh’s Complete Streets Steering Committee to ensure a regional cohesive Complete Streets plan,” he said.

“Bike lanes, safe access for walkers and traffic calming/road diets not only make our streets more usable and safe, but studies show these steps are economic drivers.”  

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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SEE THE VIDEO

Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4i3Zflb3P0 to check out Plattsburgh Acquiring Safe Streets' promotion for bike lanes on north Margaret Street.