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Read the Developer's outrageous response
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or bicycling . . . should be discouraged."
Public Health Issues
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the
proposed Residence Inn says the following about bicycle and pedestrian
d. Bicycle Access - Page 19
“There is no convenient bicycle access to the site through the use of dedicated
or shared bicycle lands. The Applicant does not anticipate either employees or
guests making use of bicycles for transportation.”
e. Pedestrian Access - Page 20
“There are no sidewalks or paved shoulders along the existing South Frontage
Road from Rapp Road to the site. There are paved shoulders along Washington Avenue
Extension. The Applicant does not anticipate either employees or guests will
arrive at the Site as pedestrians.”
The Common Council of Albany and has been charged
with the responsibility of ensuring the public health when approving
developments. We, at Save the Pine Bush are extremely concerned
that many public health issues have been completely ignored in
the DEIS for the Residence Inn proposal in the Pine Bush.
Public Health Issue #1 — Urban Sprawl
Increases Pedestrian Deaths
Walking is one of the most dangerous modes of
travel. Though only 5% of all trips are made by walking, 12%
of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians.
Motor Vehicle deaths are the leading cause of
deaths of Americans between the ages of 1 and 34. In 2001, the
total traffic fatalities in the United States were 38,000, of
which it is estimated that 4700 were pedestrians.
Sprawl has long been suspected of being a factor
in these traffic fatalities. In the September, 2003 issue of
American Journal of Public Health, a research study entitled “Urban Sprawl as a Risk Factor in Motor Vehicle Occupant
and Pedestrian Fatalities” by Reid Ewing, PhD., Richard A. Schieber,
MD, MPH, and Charles V. Zegeer, MS determined the association between sprawl
and traffic fatalities.
The researchers created a sprawl index, with lower
numbers indicating more sprawl and higher numbers more concentrated
development. The sprawl index was created using information from
the US Census data on population and density of development was
determined using US Census data concerning block size.
From this, the researchers looked at information
from 448 counties. The most densely populated county (according
to the sprawl index) was Manhattan, NY with a sprawl index of
352.07 (higher values indicate more density). The All-Mode Traffic
Fatality Rate per 100,000 for Manhattan was 4.42. In contrast,
Geauga County, Ohio (Cleveland Metropolitan Area) had the lowest
sprawl index of 63.12 (less dense) had a fatality rate of 20.90,
or five times higher than Manhattan.
The results stated by the researchers were, “For every 1% increase in
the index (i.e., more compact, less sprawl), all-mode traffic fatality rates
fell by 1.49% . . . and pedestrian fatality rates fell by 1.47% to 3.56% after
adjustment for pedestrian exposure . . .
“Conclusion: Urban sprawl was directly related to traffic fatalities and
The Residence Inn proposal does not address the
basic problem of sprawl. No sidewalks are to be built. Employees
will not safely be able to walk to work or to use mass transit.
Customers of the hotel won’t even be able to
walk to Crossgates Mall to shop. Though this Residence Inn proposal is less
than 1.5 miles from the new nanotech facilities at SUNYA, they will not be
able to walk or bicycle safely to this destination. Employees and customers
October 23, 2005eds, which increases their risk
of being involved in a traffic accident. This hotel does not belong in the
Pine Bush; it should be built downtown.
Public Health Issue #2 - Bicyclists and Pedestrians
Would Access Hotel
The DEIS states “The Applicant does not anticipate either employees or
guests making use of bicycles for transportation.” and “The Applicant
does not anticipate either employees or guests will arrive at the Site as pedestrians.”
This completely short-sighted. There are many
times where people staying at the Residence Inn would want to
arrive by bicycle or on foot. For example, the City of Albany
is a co-sponsor of the annual “Pine Bush Triathlon”.
The Triathlon had 400 participants last year. The starting point for the Triathlon
is only 1.5 miles from the site of the proposed hotel. It seems that participants
would stay at this hotel, if it were built, and would find it convenient to
bicycle to the beginning of the Triathlon, if it were safe.
The City of Albany hosts many other athletic events,
such as the Last Run (during the First Night celebrations), the
Freihofer’s Run for Women (in May)
where 4,000 women come to run through Washington Park, the Neighborhood Run,
and numerous other running/walking events. Athletes attending these events
often do not wish to have to find places to park, and would prefer to bicycle.
For the applicant to state that “The Applicant does not anticipate either
employees or guests will arrive at the Site as pedestrians . . .[or] by bicycle.” is
The Applicant anticipates that people coming to
work at the nanotech sites at SUNYA would be customers of
the Residence Inn. What do high-tech computer people
want? They want to work all day, and then, go bicycling
off to their lattes. People who are attracted to the
high-tech and computer fields are often avid bicyclists.
They want safe places to ride their bicycles. This project
will not give bicyclists a safe place to ride.
Also, many customers of the proposed Residence
Inn would be staying at the inn for weeks or months, rather than
days. People who are temporarily living at the inn may prefer
to walk or bicycle to work, shop, and for recreation.
Public Health Issue #3 — Promoting
Save Walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health
In the September, 2003 issue of American Journal
of Public Health, a research study entitled “Promoting Safe Walking and Cycling to Improve Public
Health: Lessons from The Netherlands and Germany” by John Pucher, PhD.
and Lewis Dijkstra, PhD. This study examined the public health consequences
of unsafe and inconvenient walking and bicycling conditions in American cities
and improvements that could be made, based on successful policies in The Netherlands
Measures discussed in this research article would
not only reduce pedestrian and bicycle accidents, but would
allow millions of people (who are dangerously overweight)
to walk or bike for short trips, and get needed healthy
exercise in the course of daily life.
The article states, “The United States is gripped by a worsening epidemic
of obesity. Nationwide surveys based on self-reported weight and height indicate
an increase in obesity from 12% of adults in 1991 to 20% in 2000. Estimates
of obesity based on clinical measurements of weight and height are considerably
higher, indicating that in 2000, 31% of the adult population was obese . .
. and 64% was overweight. Many studies suggest that lack of physical exercise
is one important reason for the alarming trend towards increased obesity. .
. [T]he US surgeon general specifically recommends more walking and cycling
for practical, daily travel as an ideal approach to raising physical activity
Further, the article notes that for 2001 in metropolitan
areas, 41% of all trips were shorter than 2 miles and 28%
were shorter than one mile. Despite the fact that most Americans
can walk one mile, and that bicycling is easy for a 2-mile
trip, the automobile is used 66% of the time for all trips
one mile or less, and 89% of the time for all trips between
There is a clear benefit to the public health
to encourage walking and bicycling for these shorter distances.
However, there are two problems with encouraging
the increase in walking and bicycling; due to the
lack of pedestrian and bicycle amenities, these activities
are dangerous and inconvenient in most cities. The
good news is, that changes, such as the ones made
to increase walking and bicycling in The Netherlands
and Germany over the past 20 years, can be made here.
The study states. “The
Netherlands and Germany provide valuable lessons for integrating more physical
exercise into the lives of Americans.”
The study uses information on walking and bicycle
trip use and pedestrian and cycling fatality and
injury rates for the United States, The Netherlands
It is interesting to note, that the percentage
of urban trips by walking or bicycling in the US fell from 10%
to 6.3%, which is far lower than other countries. Contrast that to non-motorized
trips in The Netherlands of over 40%. Perhaps even
more interesting is the percent of trips made by people over 75.
Half of all trips by residents of The Netherlands and
Germany over the age of 75 were made by non-motorized travel.
This ability to walk well into old age is good
for health and gives people an independence that enhances the
quality of life. Perhaps even more striking is that the life
expectancy in Germany and The Netherlands is 2 years longer than
in the US. The study observes, “ . . . walking and cycling are discouraged
in the United States by longer trip distances, the low cost and ease of auto
ownership and use, and a range of other public policies that make walking and
cycling inconvenient, unpleasant, and above all, unsafe.”
Compact land development patterns in The
Netherlands and Germany greatly contribute
to the encouragement of the use of walking
According to this study, in the United States,
pedestrians are 23 times more likely to get killed walking
than riding in a car, and a bicyclist is 12 times more likely to
be killed. Policies implemented in The Netherlands and Germany demonstrate
that it is possible to greatly reduce this
number by implementing strategies to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. The
study says “American
cities lack only the political will to adopt the same strategies.”
What strategies were used? Only six were
outlined in the study, but there are many
1) Better facilities for walking and cycling:
this includes a wide range of crosswalks, pedestrian amenities,
and an entire bicycling network. One feature found is “bicycle streets” where cars are permitted, but cyclists
have a strict right-of-way.
2) Traffic calming of residential neighborhoods,
including a speed limit of 30 km per hour / 19 miles
per hour. Studies have shown that these traffic calming
methods have greatly reduced the fatality and injury
3) Urban design oriented to people not cars. For
example, parking lots rarely surround buildings, they are
behind or next to the building, allowing for better pedestrian and bicycle
access. Residential and commercial neighborhoods
are closer together. Sidewalks and bicycle paths are always built.
4) Restrictions on Motor Vehicle Use: including
lower speed limits, limited parking, and no right-on-red.
5) Traffic Education: driver education is far
more extensive in The Netherlands and Germany than in the
6) Traffic regulations and enforcement: these
policies strongly favor walkers and cyclists. In accidents with
bicyclists and pedestrians, the motorist is always found
at least partly at fault, and if the accident involves
a child or the elderly, the motorist is always found at
The study concludes by saying:
“The European countries with the highest levels of walking and cycling
have much lower rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension than the United States.
The Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, for example, have obesity rates only one
third of the American rate, while Germany’s rate is only half as high.
Moreover, the average healthy life expectancies in those 4 European countries
are 2.5 to 4.4 years longer than in the United States. . .
“Repeated waves of fad diets, rising memberships in health clubs, exercise
equipment in more homes, diet pills and liposuction have all been total failures
in fighting the current obesity epidemic. Why not try integrating walking and
cycling into the daily travel routines of Americans? That clearly would be the
cheapest, most reliable, and most practical way to ensure adequate levels of
This proposed Residence Inn, if built,
will simply further create a health hazard
by forcing all visitors and employees to
drive, rather than bike or walk, to the
hotel. In contrast, if the Residence Inn
were built downtown, it would increase
the public health.
Public Health Issue #4 — Mortality
Risk Associated with Leaving Home
In the September, 2003 issue of American Journal
of Public Health, a research study entitled
Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the
Built Environment, by William H. Lucy, PhD.
Traffic accidents rate among the top 10 leading
causes of death in the United States. This study examines the
danger of leaving home to conduct routine activities, and
compares traffic deaths to homicide deaths.
Traffic fatalities contribute much more to the
risk of leaving home than homicides. In 2000, there were 2.7
times more traffic fatalities than homicides. Because most homicides
are caused by family members, co-workers or friends which
are associated with being at home, work or at a neighbors,
this study looks at homicides by strangers which would
be related to travel.
The study compared rates based on density of population.
The study concluded that “The exurbs are the most dangerous parts of
metropolitan areas, because more cars move fast on 2-lane roads, where dangers
of driver impairment, mistakes, and inattention compound the dangers. . . A
study of effects of low-density suburban sprawl in 83 metropolitan areas found
that traffic fatality rates were 50% higher in the 10 most sprawling than in
the 10 least sprawling metropolitan areas. . .
“But homicides are not nearly so great a danger as traffic fatalities.
Injuries from motor vehicle crashes and aggravated assaults are additional evidence
for comparing the relative risks of crime and traffic. In 2000, thee were 3,189,000
traffic injuries stemming from 2,070,000 injury crashes compared with 910,774
aggravated assaults, a more than 3 to 1 ratio. ”
The location for this proposed
Residence Inn is in the most dangerous
part of the City of Albany — the exurbs. It should not be built here, but
downtown, where it is safer.
Just for the matter of
public health, the Residence
Inn should be built downtown
and not in the Pine Bush.
In conclusion, the DEIS is inadequate in addressing
Pine Bush ecology issues, the Karner Blue butterfly and other
environmental and public health issues.
Volunteer, Save the Pine Bush
<< Previous Begin Next>>
Read the Developer's outrageous response to
this issue that says "walking
or bicycling . . . should be discouraged."
Want to Get Involved?
Email Lynne Jackson at email@example.com