Moving to Florida. I’ll see you soon!
AboutHello there! My name is Alex and I live in Albany, NY. I'm the proud owner of a Toyota Rav4 but I'm going to give it a little break. Each month, I'm going to try to stick to driving only 150 miles within the Capital Region. In addition, I'm going to write about my life as a bicycle and pedestrian commuter, my experiences at various city meetings, urbanization, rural development, and how I'm trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Moving to Florida. I’ll see you soon!
A few days before I left for Northern Virginia (NoVA), I complained about the traffic jam I was stuck in on Albany’s Central Avenue. Usually, I try not to drive on Central but I had to get my car’s oil changed before I headed down south so I didn’t have a choice. I was warned by my colleague that if I thought Central was bad, just be prepared for NoVA.
I got my first taste of the DC Metro traffic congestion when I interned in the District in 2009 and I thought that would have prepared me for what I was about to experience. I quickly learned that it did not. At least in DC, I had the option of walking, taking the bus, riding my bike, or using the Metro. Where I worked, in Loudoun County, none of those were options.
Yes. You read that right. The richest county in the United States does not have a public bus option. What do I mean by rich? I mean that there were countless housing developments that were full of houses that were worth over $500,000. Also, this is the sign welcoming visitors to Broadlands, a town nearby from where I worked. It is the most grandiose town sign I have ever seen.
You would think that Loudoun County would embrace public transportation, since it is also the fastest growing county in Virginia. But it does not. Instead, everyone has to rely on their cars to get anywhere which has contributed to the DC Metro region being named the worst area for traffic congestion in the country with drivers spending 3 days a year caught in traffic. I only lived 23 miles away from my office and it would take me, on a good day, a hour and 10 minutes to get to work each morning, or on a bad day, a hour and a half. There was the option of taking the Dulles Greenway, the privately owned toll road, but I would have had to pay 6 dollars a day for my daily commute and when you include the price of gas into the picture, I simply couldn’t afford it. I talked to many people and businesses who also couldn’t afford to take the toll road.
So. The county is rich. It is fast growing. There isn’t a public bus system. You would think that someone at the zoning board would realize that maybe it isn’t a good idea to keep building residential communities if the transportation infrastructure cannot support the existing population, right? Nope! I saw multiple housing communities being built. When I saw the construction, all I could do is shake my head, because of how irresponsible this was, not only for the residents’ quality of life, but for the environment. There is no such thing as walking to the supermarket, because the communities aren’t designed in a way where that can be allowed. And forget biking, it can be done if you stay on the Washington and Old Dominion Recreational Trail, but with the traffic congestion on the roads and the way they are designed, you are taking your life in your hands if you’re trying to bike from the residential communities to the commercial centers. The only evidence of smart growth that I did see was that in some communities, they had schools nestled within the housing developments so that the children could walk to school if they would like to.
It is sad, because the county is so beautiful, yet it’s apparent that it’s not moving towards a sustainable direction.
I’m back from Northern Virginia! Eventually, I’ll post about the transportation infrastructure there…which by all accounts was absolutely abysmal, but I’m going to write about a new challenge I’m about to embark on and that’s going to be riding my bike in the winter.
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you have to lock your bike up until spring. I just went for a ride around my parents’ neighborhood in the Catskills and it felt so good to put a few miles on my bike after only being able to circle around the parking lot when I was working down in Virginia. I’m just going to have get used to breathing in the cold air while in motion! It’s been a hour after I’ve come back from my ride and I still feel like an igloo is inside my body!
Here are some great resources about winter bike riding:
I’m happy that I can cruise around Albany with my Schwinn Solution mountain bike and I’ll get to use its full potential. Hands down, if you want to get good traction on the snow, you’re going to want some nice wide tires. However, I will need three things:
1. Lights. It gets dark around 5 PM. Reflectors are not enough.
2. Fenders. A good pair will cost around $50 and it will be worth it since Albany gets very slushy during the winter.
3. I need to replace my sprockets and chain. According to the good people at Downtube, the local Albany bike shop, I’ve put a good amount of miles on it and if I want to keep using it, it needs a little rehab.
Of course, if you have plans to ride your bike in the winter, you need to also have common sense about the conditions outside. I think S. from Simply Bike said it best:
Winter has been really unpredictable for cycling and if there is one thing I have learned this season is to just enjoy each day that makes cycling possible and to relax when it isn’t. Some days I can hop on my bike and ride, and on other days, it’s just not possible. Winter cycling really forces you to take a deep breath, relax, and go with the flow.
I can’t wait to return to Albany in a few days and I’m looking forward to contributing to 150 Miles again. I’ve missed this space!
Hi everyone! Well, I will not be doing the 150 Miles project in October either. I just received a brand new opportunity in Virginia. Don’t worry though! I will return back to the 518 as soon as Election Day (hint, hint) is over. This job will require me to use my vehicle a lot but I’m very interested to see what the transportation system is like in Northern Virginia and…excuse me while I say this…
OMG I GET TO RIDE MY BICYCLE ON WASHINGTON DC’S EXPANSIVE BIKE PATH SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry, I had to get that one out of my chest. Whew. I get a little excited about bike paths but that shouldn’t be news.
Yes, I will be bringing my bicycle. No matter what, I will be making sure that I will have time to ride, at least in the morning. I probably will only be able to venture out to DC on Ms. Schwinn Solution in November but I don’t care. I’m still excited as anything.
You know me. Just another country girl who yearns to see the world.
The Corning Trail is one of my favorite things about Albany. It is a pristine bike path along the Hudson River that connects to the larger Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail. After the flooding caused by Irene, I wondered what had happened to the trail. Over the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to get down there because of work and I was planning to take a little ride today to celebrate the win and get back to my routine of biking 20 miles a week.
I just got an e-mail from the Albany Bicycle Coalition about the state of the trail:
I went to the bike path yesterday along the Hudson and found the amount of mud to make it impassible, yet a few runners/cyclists braved the thick mud and hordes of mosquito’s anyhow. The City of Albany had just plowed the mud to the northern city line, there are downed trees and very thick mud on the path the rest of the way. Though I had to turn around way before Watervliet. I bring this up since many are not aware of the dangers of the mud/dust. Besides PCB’s, the flooding of many thousands of homes/businesses/farms/factories and sewer treatment plants along both the Hudson and Mohawk River has released a lot of chemicals and untreated sewage into the rivers. A small example - There is not a count of how many home fuel oil tanks, propane tanks, gas stations, chemicals from garages, sheds and businesses were flushed out. I brought a bandanna to cover my mouth which ended up saturated with a chemical smell. For health reasons, I suggest avoiding the mud/dust prone areas along the bike paths. I wonder if there will be any testing of the mud and where the excess mud might be hauled off to. The mud dust does contain chemicals. I wanted to see what happend to the path and seemed to forget about the dangers of the mud, or that there might be hordes of mosquito’s until I got there. More mosquitos in the wooded area than I have ever encountered.
I’m very curious about this. I think I will venture out today. I’ll let you know what I see.
Here are the details: Food and Hygiene Drive Location: Caffe Vero, 260 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210 Items will be collected from Sept. 5th to Sept. 11th Items in need are: non perishable foods, canned goods, baby and adult diapers, toiletries, laundry detergent, and dish soap. All items will benefit the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. Any questions? Contact Alex at AielloAM@gmail.com Albany tumblrs, if you could reblog- that would be great!
Here are the details:
Food and Hygiene Drive
Location: Caffe Vero, 260 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210
Items will be collected from Sept. 5th to Sept. 11th
Items in need are: non perishable foods, canned goods, baby and adult diapers, toiletries, laundry detergent, and dish soap.
All items will benefit the United Way of the Greater Capital Region.
Any questions? Contact Alex at AielloAM@gmail.com
Albany tumblrs, if you could reblog- that would be great!