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Completing Our Streets 

A Cost-Effective Proposal for Enhancing  
Albany’s Complete Streets Initiatives 
INTRODUCTION

Complete Streets - What are they?
Complete Streets are roads that are designed for all of us, regardless of our age, ability, or method
of travel.

Two examples of major complete streets projects in Albany are Delaware Avenue which was redone nearly
10 years ago, and this year’s completion of the Madison Avenue Traffic Calming project. There are many
smaller complete streets treatments that the city of Albany undertakes regularly.

Some examples of complete streets treatments include crosswalks, ADA compliant curb cuts, pedestrian
signals, bumpouts to decrease street crossing distance for pedestrians, and bike lanes.

The Albany Common Council passed a Complete Streets Ordinance in 2013 that requires the city consider
complete streets treatments when a road is redesigned or simply repaved. The ordinance has 2 other key
requirements:

● Complete Street design guidelines be created for the city to use.
● The ordinance stipulates reporting requirements on the progress of complete streets no later than 2
years after the guidelines are put in place, and every 2 years thereafter.

The guidelines were put in place by the city in 2017. They can be found on the ​Albany 2030 website1. The
first Complete Streets progress report is required to be completed in 2019.

Madison Avenue Road Diet 

1
​http://www.albany2030.org/complete-streets-guidelines

 
 
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Capital Region Complete Streets has requested that the city of Albany create a new position of Complete
Streets Coordinator to be the point person for complete streets projects.

As our name suggests, we support complete streets projects throughout our region. Capital Region
Complete Streets is making this request because we believe adding this position will be beneficial to the
community and to the city’s bottom line. Similar positions exist in cities across the country – both smaller
and larger than Albany, such positions are often referred to as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. Our
understanding is that Saratoga Springs is the only local municipality with a similar position.

There are staff in several city of Albany departments for whom we have great respect. The staff members
do very good work and each plays important role in complete streets projects, but there is no one that we
are aware of who is tasked with even ½ of their time dedicated to Complete Streets. We believe the time
has come to create this position that will make the city of Albany more welcoming to everyone.

This​​ ​report reviews several key ways a new position of Complete Streets Coordinator will benefit the
city of Albany including:

● Addressing neighborhood requests for human-scale street treatments
● Assisting the city with ADA Compliance efforts for sidewalks
● Meeting the reporting requirements of Albany’s Complete Streets Ordinance without over-taxing
current staff
● Ensuring an equity lens with Complete Streets projects
● Helping the City of Albany become a more bicycle friendly community
● Promoting active transportation and public transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
● Providing public education about Complete Streets, bicycle safety and other related topics through
brochures, website updates, and social media

The report points out the request is for a very modest increase in the city budget (approximately
.04%), for work that will pay for itself within a few years. ​A draft position description is provided at the
end of the report as well as a timeline that shows how Albany has been making progress, but still has work
to do, and adding a Complete Streets Coordinator will help the city pick up the pace and intensify the focus.

THE DESIRE FOR HUMAN-SCALE STREETS
A Complete Streets Coordinator will be the key point person for sidewalk and street accessibility issues,
pedestrian safety, bicycle safety and other related concerns. There are many residents and community
groups that want to see safer streets for vulnerable road users in Albany. Establishing the position of a
Complete Streets Coordinator will help the city track and address concerns related to traffic safety.

● Traffic safety.​​ Council Members and Mayor Sheehan know that one of the consistent
concerns across all Albany neighborhoods is traffic safety -- there are complaints from
residents throughout the city of unsafe driving behaviors, with a common concern of
motorists driving too fast on residential streets.

● Traffic Safety Stakeholders Committee. ​In 2013 the Albany Police Department established
the Traffic Safety Stakeholders Committee as part of the department’s strategic plan goal of

 
 
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“Taking Back our Streets.” In addition to being led by the Albany Police Department, the
Committee included people with disabilities, Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee
(ACPAC) members, bicycle advocates, motorcycle safety advocates, CDTA, and many
others with support from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. This committee produced
a ​report of recommendations,​ but the committee has not met in several years. A Complete
Streets Coordinator would be able to review the report and work with city departments on the
implementation of feasible recommendations.

● Community Groups.​​ At any given time, there is usually a community group in Albany
advocating for more human scale street treatments (slower speed limits, crosswalks,
intersection enhancements). Many times such requests originate with neighborhood groups,
as was the case with Madison Avenue Traffic Calming. Currently, there are two public
campaigns that we are aware of:

■ The advocacy group, Citizens for Public Transportation, is concerned about safe
access to bus stops and has been asking city officials to address the issue for well
over a year.
■ A new community group called ​Walkable Albany​ is working to highlight pedestrian
safety issues and pedestrian signal crossing concerns.
A Complete Streets Coordinator could serve as the point person to compile and track
requests and concerns from community groups, and seek solutions.

NEED FOR COMPLIANCE

Americans with Disabilities Act
Similar to communities across the region, the state,
and the country, the City of Albany is required to
ensure that sidewalks are compliant with the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. As
noted in the recent ​Regional Sidewalk Inventory
report​ from the Capital District Transportation
Committee (CDTC), the city of Albany has the most
sidewalks in CDTC’s entire planning area with 273
miles of sidewalk.  
 

The CDTC report states, “The primary objective for
creating this inventory arose from an increasing
emphasis by USDOT to ensure that MPO’s and State
DOT’s are in compliance with the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which requires local
governments to develop Transition Plans to identify a course of action to bring deficient pedestrian facilities
into ADA compliance. CDTC’s Sidewalk Inventory is intended to be used as a baseline or first step in
assisting municipalities with developing a screening process to evaluate ADA compliance of their existing

 
 
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sidewalk facilities.” 2 The standard for ADA compliance can be found in the ​ ​2011 Proposed Guidelines for
Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right of Way3.

○ Having a point person for Complete Streets work will help the ADA Coordinator with required
ADA compliance of the city’s 273 miles of sidewalks.

○ The Complete Streets Coordinator will maintain a list of work needed to be done, a list of
work in progress work, and a list of work completed on sidewalks, ramps and other ADA
required right of way street treatments.

City of Albany’s Complete Streets Ordinance
The Albany Common Council passed a Complete Streets Ordinance in 2013 that requires the city consider
complete streets treatments when a road is redesigned or simply repaved.

The Legislative Findings of the ordinance state, “The City of Albany Common Council finds that the mobility
of freight and passengers and the safety, convenience, and comfort of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians,
including people requiring mobility aids, transit riders, and neighborhood residents of all ages and abilities
should all be considered when planning and designing Albany's streets. Integrating sidewalks, bike facilities,
transit amenities, and safe crossings into the initial design of street projects avoids the expense of retrofits
later. Streets are a critical component of public space and play a major role in establishing the image and
identity of a city. By encouraging good planning, more citizens will achieve the health benefits associated
with active forms of transportation while traffic congestion and auto-related air pollution will be reduced. The
goal of this article is to improve the access and mobility for all users of streets in the community by
improving safety through reducing conflict and encouraging nonmotorized tra​nsportation and transit.” 4

The ordinance includes 2 key requirements:

● Complete Street design guidelines be created for the city to use.
● No later than 2 years after the design guidelines are put in place by the city, the ordinance
stipulates reporting requirements on the progress of complete streets projects every two years.

The required guidelines were put in place by the city in 2017. They can be found on the ​Albany 2030
website5. The first Complete Streets progress report is required to be completed in 2019.

Creating a position of Completes Streets Coordinator in the 2019 budget will help the city publish its first
required Complete Streets progress report without adding new tasks to the workplans of Albany’s current
hardworking city employees who have input on Complete Streets projects, but already have their work cut
out for them without compiling a report.

2
CDTC Regional Sidewalk Inventory Report
http://www.cdtcmpo.org/images/bike_ped/CDTC_Regional_Sidewalk_Inventory_Report.pdf

3
Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way
https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way/proposed-rights-of-way-
guidelines

4
City of Albany Complete Streets Ordinance ​https://ecode360.com/7684805

5
​http://www.albany2030.org/complete-streets-guidelines

 
 
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COMPLETE STREETS AND ALBANY’S EQUITY AGENDA
Owning a car is expensive. ​The city of Albany’s poverty level of over 25%6 means that thousands of
households cannot afford to own and maintain a car, and residents rely on getting where they need to go
most days by walking, taking the bus and riding their bicycles. Everyone, regardless of their mode of
transportation, deserves to be able to reach their destination safely, and a Complete Streets Coordinator will
help track and address concerns about street and sidewalk infrastructure with an eye towards ensuring
there is equity with Complete Streets projects.

Across the country, people of color are disproportionately affected by inadequate walking facilities. Smart
Growth America, the organization that houses the National Complete Streets Coalition, publishes a report
​ eople of
called, ​Dangerous By Design.​ The most recent report was published in late 2016 and notes, “​ P
color and older adults are overrepresented among pedestrian deaths.​​ Non-white individuals account
for 34.9 percent of the national population but make up 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths….”

 
Graph: Smart Growth America - Dangerous By Design 2016 

The report goes on to state, “Everyone involved in the street design process—from federal policymakers to
local elected leaders to transportation engineers—must take action to end pedestrian deaths. So long as
streets are built to prioritize high speeds at the cost of pedestrian safety, this will remain a problem. And as
the nation’s population grows older on the whole, and as we become more diverse both racially and
economically, the need for these safety improvements will only become more dire in years to come.” 7
In 2017, Smart Growth America revisited many of its processes, including recommendations for
implementation. The organization added some key elements to help communities address equity.
A page on their website states, “​Below is a summary of the five key steps to Complete Streets
implementation:

6
U.S. Census Bureau
7
Dangerous By Design 2016: ​https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

 
 
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● Restructure or revise related procedures, plans, regulations, and other processes to accommodate
all users on every project. This could include incorporating Complete Streets checklists or other tools
into decision-making processes.
● Develop new design policies and guides or revise existing to reflect the current state of best
practices in transportation design. Communities may also elect to adopt national or state-level
recognized design guidance.
● Offer workshops and other training opportunities to transportation staff, community leaders, and the
general public.
● Create a committee to oversee implementation. The committee should include both external and
internal stakeholders as well as representatives from advocacy groups, underinvested communities,
and vulnerable populations such as people of color, older adults, children, low-income communities,
non-native English speakers, those who do not own or cannot access a car, and those living with
disabilities.
● Create a community engagement plan that considers equity by targeting advocacy organizations
and underrepresented communities which could include non-native English speakers, people with
disabilities, etc. depending on the local context.”8

A Complete Streets Coordinator would be tasked with working to ensure that street and sidewalk
projects have an equity focus. We recommend using the above implementation steps for projects
going forward.

ALBANY’S EFFORTS TO BE MORE BICYCLE FRIENDLY

The City of Albany has made efforts to become a more
bicycle friendly place. For example, every year the city
participates in the Bike to Work Week regional competition,
when Mayor Sheehan and other city employees ride their
bikes to work. There are successful bike lanes including
Clinton Avenue and Madison Avenue, the improvements at
the Corning Preserve are bringing people out for more
recreational rides, and some use the trail to ride to work.
We are looking forward to the South End Connector that
will ​connect the end of the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail in
the South End with the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail
along the riverfront.

CDPHPCycle! bikes are used more in Albany than
anyplace else in their service area to get from Point A to
Point B. Plus, there are other promising projects along the
horizon.

8
Smart Growth America website:
https://smartgrowthamerica.org/policy-10-moving-policies-forward-requires-strong-implementation-steps/

 
 
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Still, Albany’s Bicycle Master Plan was completed nearly a decade ago, and the city has nothing yet
resembling a bicycle network that will bring out the people who are interested in bicycling for short trips, but
too concerned about safety to try.

Albany 2009 Bicycle Master Plan
In 2009, the City of Albany embarked on a Bicycle Master Plan that was designed to be a twenty year plan
with reviews and updates every five years. It has been nearly a decade, and there has not yet been a
review of the Bicycle Master Plan.

The plan states the following:
“The benefits of cycling are significant to individuals, our community and the
environment. Cycling is enjoyable, efficient, affordable, healthy, sociable, quiet, and a
non-polluting form of transportation. The objectives of the Bicycle Master Plan are to:
● Advance the current vision of bicycling as a viable transportation alternative in
Albany
● Develop a Bikeway Network using existing and proposed routes, linking desired
destinations and providing accessibility to residential areas
● Identify a hierarchy of bikeways and associated treatments, i.e. bike lanes,
shared roadways, signed routes, etc.
● Examine bicycle-supportive policies to be considered in the development of the
City’s Comprehensive Plan
● Identify pilot projects for implementation in the short term

Numerous surveys have found that the number one reason people do not cycle as a
mode of transportation is because of their fear of sharing the roadway with automobiles.
Addressing concerns about personal safety and comfort is the key to creating a City
where cycling is recognized as both a mode of transportation and a recreational activity.
With improvements to transportation infrastructure, the perception of cycling safety and
comfort can be addressed and increase the bicycling habits of people interested in
cycling as well as create a more bicycle-friendly environment for experienced and
confident cyclists.”9

The Bicycle Master Plan is overdue for a review and an update. Note that the Plan did recommend staffing
as follows:
“It is recommended that the City designate resources in the form of a part- or full-time
cycling coordinator, or senior staff with shared responsibilities for implementation until
the planning and design of bikeways and bicycle-friendly communities is routine within
the functions of the City.” 10

We believe a clear indicator that a Complete Streets Coordinator would be helpful to the City of Albany is
that we are nearly a decade into the Bicycle Master Plan yet still have nothing resembling a bicycle network.
It seems that the current staff has competing responsibilities which has led to very slow progress, while
surrounding cities are getting ahead of Albany with bicycle infrastructure planning and implementation.

9
Albany Bicycle Master Plan pgs ES 1-2:
http://www.albany2030.org/files/City%20of%20Albany%20Bicycle%20Master%20Plan.pdf

10
​Albany Bicycle Master Plan​ p. ES-7
 
 
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ALBANY’S COMMITMENT TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that in 2016, Transportation was the largest sector
that contributed to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

EPA website 

A January 2018 article in The Guardian notes, ​“...​in 2016, about 1.9bn tons of carbon dioxide emissions
were emitted from transportation, up nearly 2% on the previous year, according to the ​Energy Information
Administration​. This increase means that transport has overtaken power generation as the most polluting
sector in the country, and it’s likely to ​stay that way​.​”11

Mayor Sheehan and the Albany Common Council have made a commitment to address climate change.
One way to reduce greenhouse emissions in our city is to promote low carbon transportation including
walking, bicycling and riding the bus.

The Bicycle Master Plan, Comprehensive Plan and Complete Streets Ordinance all refer to the need to
promote multi-modal transportation. It is time to develop strategies to convince residents and commuters to
change their habits.

A Complete Streets Coordinator will educate residents and employers about how easy it is to get around the
City of Albany without driving single occupancy vehicles, and without having to drive in circles, emitting
harmful greenhouse gas just to find the best parking spot.

11
The Guardian, January 2018:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/01/vehicles-climate-change-emissions-trump-administration

 
 
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ONE POINT PERSON: COST-EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT

Establishing a point person

○ Having a Complete Streets Coordinator as a point person will break down silos and foster
swift progress on Complete Streets projects by coordinating with each of the departments
that has a role in planning and implementation, and ensuring projects are moving forward.
Existing staff have their plates full mostly with work that is not directly related to Complete
Streets.

○ By establishing a point person for Complete Streets work, the Mayor, Council Members and
residents will have ​one​ person to go to with project requests and to seek updates on
Complete Streets progress.

Educating the public, for example...

○ The proposed role of the Complete Streets Coordinator to educate the public and produce
education material such as brochures, information for the city website and social media posts
about Complete Streets infrastructure and safety will be helpful for fostering respect and
understanding. For example, when green stripes were put down at bus stops along Madison
Avenue, there were many questions about what those stripes indicated. This point person,
would produce education material so that it would be easy to find answers to such questions.

○ Many people believe that riding their bicycles against traffic is the safest way to get around
on a bike, and do not realize that it is in fact unpredictable to motorists and therefore unsafe
for the vulnerable person on a bike. The more people we have riding bicycles in our city, the
more important it is that those using bicycles as well as drivers and pedestrians are
educated. The Complete Streets Coordinator would be able to provide easy to follow safety
tips for everyone who uses the road, no matter their mode of transportation.

Albany needs to stay competitive

○ Millenials, baby boomers and those in between want inclusive, walkable, bikeable
neighborhoods.12 Cities like Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga are getting ahead of Albany
with Complete Streets planning and implementation. Albany needs to be competitive, attract
new residents, and keep the ones that are there.

Similar positions exist in cities smaller and larger than Albany. Some examples:

○ Bloomington, Indiana - population 84,465
○ Charlottesville, Virginia, about 1/2 the population of ​Albany​: 46,912.
○ Davis, California, population: 68,111
○ St. Louis, Missouri, population 308,626

12
Strong Towns February 23, 2016:
https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/2/12/americans-want-walkable-neighborhoods

 
 
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An opportunity for gains to the bottom line, with a tiny increase to the city budget

○ Factoring in health insurance and other benefits, the position at the higher salary would be an
increase of about $65,891 – that is a mere .​04% increase​​ of the total budget. That’s money
that can be found.
○ Complete Streets projects help to increase property values and, in turn increase the tax
base. “ A 2009 nationwide study by CEOs for Cities, a cross-sector organization that
develops ideas to make U.S. cities more economically successful, found that “houses located
in areas with above-average walkability or bikability are worth up to $34,000 more than
similar houses in areas with average walkability levels.””13
○ This position will pay for itself within a few years, and will help grow the city’s tax base, which
will help the city’s bottom line.
○ The person in the position will be researching funding opportunities for Complete Streets
projects. New grant funds will save taxpayer money on potential debt service.
○ Safer street design, means reduced crash rates – this will save on overtime of police and fire
at crash scenes.

13
Urban Land Institute: ​Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier - p.6
http://uli.org/wp-content/uploads/ULI-Documents/Active-Transportation-and-Real-Estate-The-Next-Frontier.pdf

 
 
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CONCLUSION

It is evident that the City of Albany is making some progress with ADA Compliance, Complete Streets, and
combating climate change, but the progress is slow. A Complete Streets Coordinator will help move things
forward more efficiently, leading to a more inclusive, safe, walkable, and inviting city. One indicator that this
position would be useful is that the city has had a ​Bicycle Master Plan ​in place since 2009, nearly a decade,
yet has not come close to establishing a connected bicycle network. In fact, since 2009, the city has only
managed to construct 4 mostly unconnected bike lanes (Clinton Ave, Northern Blvd, Madison Ave and Ten
Broeck) that amount to about 2.8 miles.

A leading 21st century city is a safe and inviting place to live and work. Walkable streets, and navigable bike
and transit networks are hallmark quality-of-life essentials for today's families, students, businesses and
innovators. A Complete Streets Coordinator will allow Albany to be more responsive to the needs of its
residents, while increasing its competitiveness with surrounding communities.

A Timeline of Complete Streets Progress in Albany:

 

 
 
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DRAFT Position Description
 
Position: Complete Streets Coordinator
Department: To be determined by Mayor
Salary: $45,000 - $53,000/year*
*Based on Department of General Services’ Community Relations Coordinator in (2019 salary $53,570) and
the entry-level planner (2019 salary $46,586).

The Complete Streets Coordinator will perform the following duties:

Complete Streets Implementation:
• Maintain a list of streets that would benefit from complete streets treatment.
• Identify those projects that are on the Complete Streets Coordinator’s complete streets list using the city’s
list of streets scheduled for construction, reconstruction or resurfacing.
• Promote a sequence of work completion that favors streets identified as suitable for complete streets
improvements.
• Update Albany Bicycle Master Plan and oversee its implementation.
• Coordinate with ADA Coordinator, Traffic Engineering, the Albany Police Department, the City Engineer, the
Department of General Services, and other departments concerned with the complete streets’ “Three Es” of
Engineering, Education, and Enforcement.

Funding Related:
• Research funding opportunities for complete streets projects.
• Develop a revolving fund specifically for Complete Streets projects.
• Contribute to complete streets planning within the city budget.

Research:
• Oversee and monitor all bicycle and pedestrian count programs to measure progress and changes to
non-motorized traffic using baseline data.
• Perform on the ground survey of existing infrastructure to ensure compliance with standards and functioning
correctly. This includes checking pedestrian signal timing, recording crosswalk conditions and more.
• Monitor bicycle and pedestrian mobility data from other sources to include the CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare
program.
• Develop and maintain an inventory of bicycle parking and identify sites for new parking.
• Report regularly on complete streets progress and public health impact of each completed, in process or
planned transportation project to the public, the Common Council, city departments, neighborhood
associations, community groups/not-for-profits, and other organizations.

Outreach:
• Ensure key stakeholder communities have input in projects including (but not limited to) people with
disabilities, pedestrians, people who ride bicycles, people who want to ride bicycles but are concerned about
safety, and public transportation riders.
• Represent the city on the Transportation Subcommittee of the Sustainability Advisory Committee and the
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee of the Capital District Transportation Committee.
• Produce public education collateral (e.g., brochures, website information, media releases, and social media
posts) for all street and sidewalk users on the evolving complete streets infrastructure.
• Coordinate with schools and other organizations and groups on safe walking and cycling curriculum
development for elementary and secondary school.
• Liaise with the Albany County Health Department and New York State agencies including departments of
transportation, motor vehicles, and health on complete streets activities.

 
 
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