Posted by: David Giacalone | June 22, 2018

Trail Extension Feasibility Study unveiled

IMG_4095Last night (June 21), the County held a Public Meeting at the Central Library unveiling its Bike Trail Extension Feasibility Study on linking the existing segments of the ALCO Heritage trail along the Mohawk River to Riverside Park and the Stockade neighborhood. Currently, the riverbank trail ends at River Street, along the East Front Street neighborhood.  The meeting was hosted by Ray Gillen, who is the head of County Economic Development and Planning and the chair of Metroplex, and by Gregg Urspring, a representative of the engineering firm performing the Study.

This is a brief summary of the Meeting and the Study. Update: Click here for the Final version of the Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail Extension Feasibility Report (September 14, 2018).

The Feasibility Study:

  1. TWO OPTIONS. The study presents two options for making the linkage from the current extent of the ALCO Heritage Trail to Riverside Park:
    1. OPTION 1: Under the CSX Bridge:  Trail would run under the existing CSX/Amtrak Bridge, with two alternative alighnments (a steeper one with an 11% slope and one with an 8% slope). It would require placing fill against the existing bridge abutmenmt, out to the first pier; constructing a protective cover over the trail where it runs under the bridge; removal is likely to be needed during winter months due to ice floes.
    2. OPTION 2: Front Street Path: It would start at the “Riverside Park Walkway”, cross Union College property (with an Agreement already in place), run through Front St. Park, then along a sidewalk on Front St. and through either CSX railroad or vacant property to the existing ALCO Heritage Trail.
  2. IMG_6724 STUDY ASSUMPTION: Riverside Park is already Part of the Bike-Trail System. The question addressed in the Study is how to link with it. However, to the relief of many at the Meeting who demurred at deciding how to link to the Park without first deciding whether the Park walkway would be converted to a bike trail, the Study does provide that there must be an additional planning stage in which necessary “improvements” are considered at Riverside Park, especially to its existing “walkway”. An example of a possible improvement/reconfiguration of Riverside Park is to create a separate pedestrian path to meet many concerns expressed about a trail’s impact on the Park’s current users. [editor’s note: For explanations of our concerns, see our discussion at ]
  • There was no final attempt to reach a consensus at the Meeting between Options 1 and 2. More thoughtful evaluation will be possible when the Study is online. At this point, I personally am leaning toward Option 2, given the significant problems raised by placing a segment of the trail under the bridge, with worries about floods and ice floes, and seasonal closings. I still want a chance to read the Study before coming to a final conclusion.
  • See Stephen Williams’ report on last night’s meeting here in the Gazette.

Here are images from the Study slideshow that help illustrate the points above.









    Readers of this website know that I am an avid user and strong admirer of Riverside Park (as a mellow and beautiful experience and a photography subject, in fair weather and foul). From the first declarations that Riverside Park would be getting a shared use path — one path for both pedestrians and bicyclists, going in both directions — I have voiced and posted concerns that increased numbers of bicycles, many going at fast speeds, would ruin the Riverside Park experience, for many current users, by creating a “scared use” path. The response from Bike Schenectady proponents has consistently been that they will assure that a shared-use path meets engineering requirements, not that the shared-use notion might be abandoned.

    Therefore, acknowledgment in the Feasibility Study and at the Public Meeting that there must be strong consideration to having separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, in order for a Bike-Ped Trail to be safe and workable, is a positive outcome.

  •  I presume that, if further study and public input show it is not feasible to reconfigure Riverside Park to adequately meet justifiable concerns over safety and aesthetics — that is, without significant damage to the quality of the Park experience — options will be fully considered and proposed that have cyclists skirting the Park or walking bikes through the Park. [seeˆLet’s Make Riverside Park a Pedestrian Sanctuary“]
  • Note that Option Two in the Feasibility Study shows that trail proponents realize we can have a successful Trail without the need to hug the riverbank wherever possible.

As further information or insights arrive, I will update or follow-up this posting.

follow-up (November 1, 2018): Doing some research on a related topic today, I found a discussion about hike-bike trails and parks that I just had to include at my site. It comes from Trail Design Guidelines for Portland’s Park System (Portland OR Parks and Recreation, May 2009) , section on Hiking and Biking Trails (at p. 35, emphasis added):

USERS Walking and biking trails serve the greatest diversity of users: pedestrians, including those with fitness and balance limitations; cyclists, particularly those using road bikes; scooters; skateboards; rollerbladers; wheelchairs; and electronic mobility devices used by persons who need assistance to be mobile. People of all ages walk, run, ride, and roll to enjoy the environment, socialize, exercise, and access other parts of the community. Since user speeds can vary substantially, this trail type requires extra courtesy in sharing the trail.

Many existing park trail systems were not designed for bicycles, although cyclists often ride to parks and young riders may come to develop bicycling skills in the park. If a city bikeway is allowed to connect to existing park paths, it is important that commuting cyclists slow down. In some sites, park character, sight distance, trail width or pre-existing uses (playgrounds, playing fields, natural resource protection, off-leash dog areas) may be negatively impacted and the bikeway system should not connect to park trails. In other sites, adding new bike trails or widening existing walking trail may be needed.



  1. I think if Riverside Park is part of the Bike Trail it will definitely change the character of the park. As it is now, the park is a tranquil place where young and old can walk and not have to beware of cars i.e. on the streets. So with the Bike Trail, no matter having two separate paths, bikes or walkers could stray making the walkers in danger. Also, the playground has young children and they sometimes stray off and could get seriously hurt by a speeding bicyclist causing the city to have some lawyers knocking on the their door. I say ‘if it is not broken, do not fix it’ and have the park in its present state for generations to enjoy the tranquility! As to having the bicyclists have a nice view; it was said at the meeting by a bicyclist that view is not important and all they want is speed in getting some place. A few years ago, a dock was proposed at the foot of North St. and fortunately did not go through so now we have another situation to put up with. Why can’t the city administration realize that Riverside Park is one in a million and one cannot find such a place anywhere else. I had a visitor from Texas and she said “we have nothing like this in Texas”. Just saying: let the bicyclists go on the streets like proposed further on Front St. only make it sooner on Front St. Thank you,
    Jessie Malecki born and living on North St. over 90 years; five houses away from the park.

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