Helping to make Saratoga Springs more bike-friendly

Sustainable Saratoga is very pleased that the City Council voted to accept grant funding and move forward with an engineering study to install bike lanes on Lake Avenue (read about it in The Daily Gazette). Sustainable Saratoga has been a vocal supporter of the implementation of the City’s Complete Streets Policy and has long advocated for initiatives that work towards improving the safety and accessibility of a cleaner, greener transportation system.

Improvements in alternative transportation help to promote and encourage bicycling in the community which has many environmental, public health, and economic benefits. When people choose to reach their destination on bikes rather than automobiles, it helps to reduce traffic congestion, parking demand and auto-related air pollution. Installing bike lanes on Lake Avenue is in perfect alignment with our mission, and so we advocated for the City Council to move forward with the process to design and install bike lanes on Lake Avenue. Sustainable Saratoga partnered with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce to co-author a Readers’ View in The Saratogian, we shared information widely on social media to inform the community, and we also made a statement during the public hearing at the City Council meeting on July 2, 2018, which you can read below.

Sustainable Saratoga’s statement to the City Council on July 2, 2018:

Sustainable Saratoga is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices and protecting the natural resources in Saratoga Springs for current and future generations.  It is with this mission in mind that we have long supported initiatives that work towards improving the safety and accessibility of public, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation in and around Saratoga Springs.

Improvements in our city’s bicycling infrastructure will help to promote and encourage bicycling in the community, which has many benefits to the environment, public health, and the economic vitality of the community.  In addition, by creating safer bicycle opportunities, the City will be encouraging more residents and visitors to reach their destination on bikes rather than automobiles which helps to reduce congestion in our inner core, reduces parking demands, reduces pollution and strengthens local economies.  It is through these benefits and many more that Sustainable Saratoga believes that well-designed bicycle lanes on Lake Avenue are a huge benefit for the entire community and supporting this investment will make Lake Avenue safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

We don’t have to look too far to see how busy streets can be calmed through adding bicycle lanes.  Just recently the City of Albany completed some traffic calming measures on Madison Avenue by adding bicycle lanes on both sides.  Madison Avenue is much more heavily traveled than Lake Avenue and serves as a good example of how bike lanes can be an improvement.

In addition, Sustainable Saratoga wants to recognize the steps that the City Council has taken over the past few years to support pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation by unanimously approving the Complete Streets Plan.  Included in this framework are guidelines for improving the safety, connectivity and access of bicycle infrastructure in the City and, more specifically, it identified the implementation of bicycle lanes on Lake Avenue as a goal.  In addition to unanimously approving the Complete Streets Plan, the City Council unanimously approved the Greenbelt Trail Plan which also advances these ideas. As a result of these initiatives, and embracing the more recent bike share program, Sustainable Saratoga and its supporters are confident that the City Council will continue to support these ideals by amending the City Code and accepting the funding to take the next steps to make bicycle lanes on Lake Avenue a reality.

We would also like to applaud the City Council for their open and transparent process as we truly are at our best when we have an engaged and active community.  We recognize that there has been some misinformation surrounding this project, which is not even in the design phase yet, but we are confident that by amending the code and accepting the grant funding, the City will be able to work with experts in the field to create a design that meets the needs of the community and will be safe for all users.

In closing, Sustainable Saratoga would like to thank you all for the opportunity to address the Council as we support moving forward with designing bike lanes for Lake Avenue. If approved, we encourage the Council to work together with transportation experts, planners, and engineers to come up with the best design for this route. While parking and traffic are two concerns, we believe a comprehensive design process can result in safe bikeable access for our community.