Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Plans for the Streets

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.

A small but significant alteration to the rendering is that the boulders in front of the entrance to Promenade Hill have been replaced by what appears to be a granite sign, reminiscent of what might mark a corporate headquarters in a suburban setting. 

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.
Ribaudo acknowledged that $250,000 of the funds for the connectivity project have been set aside for repairing and improving the Second Street stairs, but no plans for those repairs and improvements have so far been presented. 

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. 

One wonders about the wisdom of that plan. 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.


  1. As an experienced cyclist, I oppose paths shared by pedestrians and cyclists. Sidewalks should be exclusively for pedestrians. Furthermore, motor vehicle traffic is so light in Hudson and the streets are so wide that, in general, there is no need for bike lanes or bike paths. If the city wants to make roads safer for cyclists, reduce the speed limit to 25 mph, and enforce it.

    1. John, I'm right with you on opposition to the shared path idea. Having experienced shared paths along California beaches, they are extremely dangerous to both. I'd guess none of the planners that came up with this idea are cyclists.

    2. And get rid of the Colarusso gravel trucks on Front Street and beyond.

  2. Agreed. The image of smiling cyclists and pedestrians coexisting in a designated lane looks great. The reality is less rosy. Anyway, it is simply unnecessary and a waste of time, money, effort, etc. On any street in Hudson.

  3. A simple fix for bikes may be to make alternate side parking apply to the day as well as night, at least on a few of the Main Roadways, that way one side of the street would always be open for use as a bike lane, all you would have to do is paint some lines. This would encourage use of bikes and reduce cars, which is good, but may require more parking lots.

    1. I disagree. The city should not waste tax dollars painting bike lanes. It is far more important to use tax revenue to fix potholes and repave streets. Maintaining our transportation infrastructure should be a top priority because good roads reduce wear and tear on automobiles and create a smooth, safe roadway for cyclists.

  4. I'd curious to know whether the people who call for bike lanes actually ride bikes. P. Winslow, for example. Are you a cyclist?

  5. I think we are very lucky to have these firms working to help make Hudson a more walkable city.

    Walkability is both a basic right of residents, as well as a powerful driver of economic growth.

    See here “50 Reasons Why Everyone Should Want More Walkable Streets”
    [50 Reasons Why Everyone Should Want More Walkable Streets](

    Both of these strategies promise to make the BRIDGE District more walkable. And, while the improvements they are suggesting - bump outs and trees, etc. - may appear minor, they will have massive impact on our lived experience of our streets.

    Also, I wanted to point out on the Shared Paths represent an additional 8’ path that runs alongside a full 6’ sidewalk for pedestrians.

    This means we are getting an additional 8’ of public space returned to pedestrians from cars - in a way that makes it safer for all users.

    This is all gravy, to my mind.
    Especially if you’ve ever walked that block on State Street. It is literally a highway, with a guardrail and highway lighting.

    This right to a walkable city beyond the BRIDGE District will be our next challenge. Anyone want to join me?

    1. A problem may be, Peter, that the renderings presented by Arterial on Monday show a sidewalk for pedestrians on Front Street, alongside the shared path, but none on State Street. On State Street, there is only the shared path. Also, one has to wonder, if there is a sidewalk for pedestrians, why the bike path needs to be shared with pedestrians.

    2. I don’t quite see the problem, honestly. But I imagine my needs are different than yours.

      My assumption is that the shared path is an effective way if making it as easy and safe as possible for cyclists and pedestrians to move around the city as they wish.

      I think I would stay in the street when by myself.

      But I would absolutely want a shared path, when teaching my daughter to ride to the waterfront.

      And I tend to give a firm like Arterial the benefit of the doubt.

      It’s worth noting that much of the Empire State Trail is a shared path.

  6. If you look at the entrance to Promenade (and elsewhere in the park), with all its loose asphalt and old, cracked concrete (the stairs are so lovely!), one wonders why the DPW can't do a decent job of maintaining the most basic of stuff, especially in our parks. Now you want to add all this other stuff for DPW to deal with and maintain? They barely keep up on repainting garbage cans full of graffiti. Stop lines fade away or are nonexistent. Look at the trees on Union Street and elsewhere, hardly any of them survive one year. Who is going to maintain new trees on Front or State? DPW? All these ideas to "improve walkability" are maybe well intentioned, but ultimatelyu silly. Install it all as this company envisions and within three years it will all look like crap, likely making things MORE dangerous. Ask Rob Perry what his department is going to maintain if this is done.

  7. Although I agree Front Street is too wide and fast, the Promenade Hill project is already focused in that area so I favor the scheme that improves the entire neighborhood - either way it’s still a small area.
    I also agree with others that the mixed bike/ped paths are a bad idea. Also, what’s the point for just a few blocks? That’s the type of initiative that deserves its own study of the larger community and could be tested and implemented with inexpensive striping.
    Is there any way to submit comments and/or do we know when it’s next on a city meeting agenda? Thanks for the coverage!