Kingston On The Move

Kingston Greenline project status as of August 2017.

Kingston Greenline project status as of August 2017.

The seeds were sown for the Kingston Greenline in 2013 when the Kingston Land Trust commissioned the Kingston Point Rail Trail Feasibility Study with support of the City of Kingston and the Hudson River Valley Greenway. This study described the options for a trail from Jansen Avenue to Kingston Point Park. Not long after in 2014, the KLT commissioned another plan, the Kingston Greenline Conceptual Plan again with support of the City of Kingston and the Land Trust Alliance. This plan outlines the concept of a rail trail hub for the county and the region in the City of Kingston. The idea of the Kingston Greenline has captured the hearts and the minds of many Kingstonians and people in the region, and the City of Kingston and Ulster County have secured funding to make pieces of it a reality. Just recently at the State of the State Address, we learned that parts of the Kingston Greenline will be part of the Governor’s Empire State Trail Plan.

But how do all the sections of the Greenline fit together and what will happen when? Folks who have been involved since the beginning are patiently (or impatiently) awaiting the construction of the first section. How can project managers clearly communicate the progress of the construction projects and what the public can expect when?

Enter the new City of Kingston’s “Kingston On The Move” webpage where you can find a great new project map and status updates for each of the sections of the Kingston Greenline. Getting a project from concept to funding to construction is no easy task. Several of the projects have multiple funders, each with their own administrative requirements and timelines. And some of the projects still need more funding, so while managing existing funds project managers continue to seek new funders and partners. In my first year as the grants manager at the City, I have discovered that managing these projects is like being at a contra dance where you change hands with new partners and often come back to your original partners too. And somehow someone has to keep the end goal in mind, a symphony of movement forward to create something beautiful and to also enjoy ourselves along the way. To communicate about all the interactions that happen along the way would be impossible, but our new website aims to communicate the essence of how and when we are moving these projects forward. It also aims to bring a new level of transparency about project status to the public.

Kingston’s Mayor Steve Noble delivering his State of the City speech on January 10, 2017

Kingston On The Move is this administration’s new vision for transportation that Mayor Steve Noble unveiled at the State of the City Address on January 10th, 2017. In the past the City has not had a comprehensive vision and action plan for improving transportation to guide the maintenance, development, and build out of our transportation system. We’ve had lots of great new and current projects such as the Safe Routes to School project, the Greenkill Bridge, the Uptown Parking Lots, and all the Kingston Greenline projects, but how do these fit into a long-term vision for a better transportation system in Kingston? City staff are working with a strategic transportation planning sub-committee of the Complete Streets Advisory Council, to create this vision and a three-year prioritized action plan to guide our system’s development.  On the City webpage, within the next quarter, you’ll find an inventory of all the transportation-related plans and the City’s action plan. This group and the City will continually be looking at how we can make transportation stress-free, safe, and seamless from walking and biking to a bus to your motor vehicle. The Kingston Greenline is a significant piece of this puzzle, the spine for the future non-motorized sections of our transportation system.

So check out our new Kingston Greenline Project Status Map and the City’s Kingston On The Move website. Dig in and learn how we are moving forward. If you have a question about one of the projects or feel the project status updates are missing information, contact me at 845-334-3962 or kwilson@kingston-ny.gov or the project managers listed on the website. And remember, there are so many ways you can get involved in transportation planning. Maybe join the Kingston Land Trust Kingston Greenline Committee, the Complete Streets Advisory Council, or one of our other partners such as Bike Friendly Kingston. Or attend public meetings that will be held by the City about one of the specific projects. Together we can create a great system that works for all and have some fun dancing along the way.

For more information on the progress of the Kingston Greenline, be sure to check out the Kingston On The Move site.

Walk Bike NY Symposium: How to Make Communities Safer

“800 bicyclists died nationally in 2015.”

“36 bicyclists were killed in NY in 2015.”

“17 pedestrians die nationally, every day, many of these deaths are preventable.”

These were just a few of the facts learned at the Walk-Bike New York Symposium this September 13 & 14th, held in Syracuse. The Symposium pulled together people from many different areas who are working to create safer communities for pedestrians and bicyclists in the State of New York. People such as Department of Transportation engineers, city planners, health and safety practitioners and pedestrian and bicycle advocates.

jsskbvldtllc6htrznuzfdwrnuevwwi-eprjzuar0gsdhxja8gdv4jyofs7uz3tb7gafeuuikbihpl5rbkcvgg

All the presentations at the Symposium were about making New York a safer place to walk and bike. One very special presentation, “Lessons for Bicycle Infrastructure Planners and Advocates from Kingston NY,” was presented by two Bike-Friendly Kingston members, Kristen Wilson, Grants Manager, City of Kingston, and Strategic Liaison to the Live Well Kingston Coalition, and Rose Quinn, Traffic Safety Assistant, SUNY Ulster Mid-Hudson Health and Safety Institute, and Chair of the Live Well Kingston Coalition. The presentation walked viewers through the development of the recent “Building a Better Broadway” project as a way to give perspective and advice to other planners as they craft pedestrian and bicycle improvements in their own communities.

_2bc6ddgr5fsxpt2xzvfylkkbapfflufnngkksiilla

Another inspiring presentation was from Mark Fenton, National Public Health, Planning and Transportation Consultant. He asked the audience to close their eyes and remember their favorite outside activities as kids. Then he asked: was it organized play? Was an adult involved? Most answers were recollections of what we would now called “free range” play.

aiyf1eqfgzwpcua4rdgviqq890nm9doxkbsqc666f60

Mr. Fenton showed the astronomical rates of increased diabetes in children in the United States from 1960 – 2000. He then showed the changes in walking and cycling to school from 1969 to 2001. The two inverse lines were so dramatic and clearly linked. He argued that diabetes is a bigger detriment to children than the dangers of walking to school.

He encouraged attendees to build a world where kids can be active again. He made the point that If our communities are built so that children can move through them safely, then older people will be able to as well.

He had 4 main suggestions on how to make our communities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly:

1. Design compact neighborhoods, with open spaces and mixed use development.

2. Create networks of sidewalks, trails, and mass transit. 60% of people polled are interested in biking, but are concerned about safety. Creating separated bicycle infrastructure allows those 60% to feel comfortable enough to use their bikes for everyday trips.

3. Create inviting destinations. Create complete streets (streets that are built for everyone: they are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.) Build bike parking under overhangs. Put parking in back of buildings and screen them.

4. Create safe and accessible pedestrian streetscapes. Use “road diets” or reclaim space to be used for other uses, such as turn lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, parking or landscaping. Create pedestrian walkways that your mother would feel comfortable using.

Mr. Fenton then went on to list many other suggestions and projects that could be done in any community. He encouraged the audience to test out things in a non-permanent way to see how behavior changes and what works, using cheap materials like paint, planters or other temporary measures.

Other presentations during the symposium included: Building Health through Community Design, A Deep Look at Bicycle Commuting and Bicycling as Transportation in Syracuse and Rochester, Erie Canalway Trail – Syracuse Connector Route, and many other presentations. All had great ideas on how to increase and encourage safer walking and biking in New York.

The symposium was very successful and accomplished the goals of networking, sharing ideas, inspiring advocates and spreading information. With this information and tools, attendees have gone back to their communities and will continue to work to reduce some of those preventable injuries and deaths to pedestrians and cyclists.

Emily Flynn is the leader of Bike-Friendly Kingston, NY. She is a bicycle commuter who has become an advocate for all the different reasons people ride on two wheels. Professionally, she is a Sr. Graphic Designer at Gilday Creative, a boutique graphic design company based in Kingston.