Arterial, the urban planners working on the DRI-funded improvements to the streets, sidewalks, and intersections in the part of the city known as the BRIDGE District, made a second presentation to the Common Council on Monday, during the Council's first informal meeting of the new year. Much of the presentation seemed intent on walking back the impression that the plans presented on December 15 were anything but the most preliminary concepts. Council president Tom DePietro introduced the presentation by saying that Arterial's planning was at a "much earlier stage than Starr Whitehouse," the landscape architects reimagining the entrance to Promenade Hill, a design that was reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission last Friday.
The Arterial presentation on Monday included some of the same images that were part of the earlier presentation, notably this one, of the intersection of Warren and Front streets.
David Lustberg of Arterial explained where the project was in the development process. Phase 1 is the scoping and planning phase; Phase 2 is the design and implementation phase. Lustberg said the project was now "coming toward the end of Phase 1." What needed to be decided was "how and what can be implemented" with the $3.5 million in DRI funds now available for this project.
In his part of the presentation, James Ribaudo of Arterial reiterated the three goals of the Hudson Connects project:
- celebrate the historic integrity of Hudson;
- make the streets safe and accessible to all;
- reconnect with the waterfront.
Two strategies for using the $3.5 million were presented--Strategy 1: Focused Improvements; Strategy 2: Distributed Improvements.
In Strategy 1, Front Street, from Dock Street to Allen Street, will be reimagined as a "waterfront promenade--a destination and amenity," and there will be improvements to selected intersections in the BRIDGE District. Strategy 2 does not involve turning Front Street into "a destination and amenity," but it makes improvements to all intersections in the BRIDGE District. The following compares the improvements that can be made with the two strategies. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
The big difference in the two strategies is the redesign of Front Street, not all the way to the train station or to Basilica Hudson, but only from Dock Street to Allen Street, the portion of Front Street that is on the Empire State Trail. What is being proposed for Front Street widening the sidewalk on the west side of the street, along Hudson Terrace, narrowing the street, and adding lane markings.
The diagram presented to show what's proposed does not include increasing the number of trees. Perhaps that was done to make what's essentially a diagram easier to understand, but if Front Street, in both directions from Warren Street, were treelined, if there were a canopy of trees that shaded the street and the sidewalk, it would go a long way in enhancing the street and making it, if not a destination, an amenity.
The plan for Front Street also includes a shared path along the west side of the street--a path shared by pedestrians and cyclists. This kind of shared path is also proposed for the north side of State Street from Second to Front streets.
Section 78-16 A of the Hudson city code states: "No person shall ride, drive or operate a bicycle along any public sidewalk or footpath intended for the use of pedestrians. . . ." The law exists because bicycles on the sidewalk were perceived to pose a hazard to pedestrians. It is important to provide cyclists with a safe alternative to having to share the street with motor vehicles, but having cyclists share a path with pedestrians hardly seems a good solution.
A report from the Cornell University Bicycle and Pedestrian Education maintains that "sidewalk biking can be extremely dangerous--both to pedestrians and to the bicyclists themselves." That same report advises that although riding on the sidewalk can "eliminate the relatively small danger to cyclists of crashes with overtaking motorists," it actually "increases the potential for more common intersection collisions." Given this information, one wonders why these shared paths are being proposed and what evidence exists that they are practicable and safe.
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