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October 21, 2013

Complete Streets planning benefits touted

PLATTSBURGH — Complete Streets design concepts make travel safer for all modes of transportation, including cyclists and pedestrians.

That was the message from a round-table discussion at the recent Adirondack Coast Walk/Bike Symposium held in the Stafford Auditorium at Clinton Community College.

Paul Cummings, a planner with the Chazen Companies, said the company does a lot of engineering and planning work across New York. They are seeing more and more interest in design according to Complete Streets concepts, he said, and this region has made some good initial strides.

He said it will take generations to change the transportation network from a strict focus on vehicular travel. Previous construction often focused on wide roadways with little or no shoulder, with an emphasis on travel at higher speeds.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE EFFORT

Intersections are a point of emphasis. Well-marked crosswalks, with sidewalk bump outs that reduce the distance of roadway to be crossed are a big help, he said. Signage and lighting can also help increase pedestrian safety.

Roundabouts are becoming increasingly popular. When well designed, those can help reduce the chance for contact between pedestrians and vehicles by half.

Cummings said public-private partnerships are an opportunity for municipalities to identify ways to develop Complete Streets concepts at a reduced cost.

“They (developers) realize it will benefit them,” he said.

One example is the Homestead on Ampersand apartment complex approved by the Town of Plattsburgh Planning Board earlier this year. Regan Development Corp. agreed to install sidewalks from Rugar Street to Consumer Square as part of the project and also plans a stop for public transit.

Infrastructure projects such as water- or sewer-line installation also present opportunities to include the new concepts. 

BICYCLE RULES

New York State University Police Officer Bob Light, who works at SUNY Plattsburgh and helped create its Police Bicycle Program, offered insights into cycling rules. 

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