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Old 01-20-11, 08:49 AM   #1
eugene_b
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Are roads and weather generally bike-friendly around Albany/Troy, NY?

Hi!

I'll be moving into that area in foreseeable future and I am planning to use bike for all my commuting - work, groceries, touring, etc. As for now my main concern is weather and car drivers. Could you let me know how bad or good are those factors (please assume that I am not only unfamiliar with that area but also with USA in general).

I've done and still doing lots of research about bikes and I've already found that cycling is technically possible through all seasons - for hot weather I can slow down, for rain I can get protecting cloth and use a special cap to prevent glasses from getting wet, for winter I can get special tires. However there are still several things that are unclear.

First of all how are the roads in general, let's say in summer? From the cycling experience in my country, I am used to the fact that it is always possible to easily find a route that would allow you to almost fully avoid cars. Like there is a wider road that all drivers use but if you go 100 meters in other direction, you can have a less wide road where you will be meeting several cars per 30 minutes. Or you can just go for one of those ground roads that are almost everywhere and where you are unlikely to meet cars at all. Will it be possible in the US location in question? Can I easily find a comfortable route where I will be avoiding most of the car traffic?

And then comes winter My largest concern that even if there are tiny un-used roads, they are covered with thick snow and nobody cares to clean them and the roads that are actually cleaned have heavy car traffic and personally I would be scared of sharing a slippery road with cars. So how is the winter out there and how do you deal with it?
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Old 01-20-11, 09:10 AM   #2
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I went to school there and still have family there. Short answer: Yes, you'll be fine.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-20-11, 09:17 AM   #3
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One quick add: Troy has some STEEP hills coming up from the river that will be tough in the winter. That said, I was car free there for four years of college in the 80s and I got by okay. Here is what the scenery looks like: Click
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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Old 01-20-11, 09:51 AM   #4
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Looks awesome, thanks! Also since you are familiar with that location that well, do you by chance remember any nasty hills on the way from Troy down to Rensselaer Tech Park?
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Old 01-20-11, 09:56 AM   #5
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Also I couldn't help but notice that there was rain and you were wearing glasses And I don't see any kind of cap on you...how did you cycle, don't drops on the glass cover all the vision?

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Old 01-20-11, 11:43 PM   #6
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You make do.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-21-11, 11:57 AM   #7
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eugene_b: I live in Troy and work in Albany. I live about 4 miles from the Rensselaer Tech and worked in that park for 5+ years. My wife currently works there. I am happy to answer any specific questions you have.

About the roads: You won't be able to find many without cars going from Troy to The RPI Tech Park. The park is on Rt. 4, and it's a pretty busy road. I ride on it all the time though, there's plenty of room for both cars and bikes so it's not a problem. Depending on where you will be living there might be a hill you will have to climb. Nothing impossible, but one that I don't ever ride on due to the road and the traffic being very heavy.

Winter can be a problem. When it snows, there will be snow on the roads. Usually they are cleared in a day or two, but Troy is notorious for taking a long time to do that. However, the Tech park is right on a bus route so you will have no problem getting there if you can't ride that day.

Feel free to PM me with any questions.

Doohickie - I used to ride those roads all the time when I lived in Albany. I loved the view from the top of Krumkill. Fun area to ride.
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Old 01-21-11, 01:51 PM   #8
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Thanks very much for the info!

Is there a website or something which I can use to easily visualize and study bus routes? Also, are the buses designed to carry bikes or will I need to use a folding bike in order to be able to carry it in the bus?

Also, I've read many stuff of Troy being dangerous, full of gangs, etc.. I do understand that probably each and every city has bad and good stuff and you just need to know where it is safe to show up and where it is not. So which parts of Troy would you consider as not safe, the parts where it is not clever to show up? I'll be using that info to design my bike routes.

And regarding routes, I've been studying google maps and I am thinking of going parallel to route 4 while in Troy and then when 4 goes east (near a bridge) just continue moving south (along Stow Ave for example) and finally go through forest. Google earth show that there are some kind of roads going there. Is this possible?
Another plan is to make a hook by moving into the direction of Wynantskill and approach Tech Park using something that is called 66 and 74 (not sure whether those are route numbers too, at least the geometrical figure used for it is different).
How do these plans sound in terms of traffic, winter and safety?

On a completely different note, I am still thinking where to live so I might decide for some eastern town (like that one near lake) but that's less likely because first of all I wasn't able to find any bus routes from there and secondly my company says that since they are located in tech park I'll be able to get an ID which allow to use all RPI services like gym, pool, etc and they all seem to be located in Troy

And regarding views from Krumkill, is there some place where I can get routes designed for touring? I'll be new to the USA so I would love to tour as much as possible! Also do you have some kind of events, when cyclists join up in small or large groups and go touring across local places?
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Old 01-23-11, 01:23 PM   #9
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Although I know people who commute to the cities on their bicycles, I prefer the peace and tranquility of the country roads on the outskirts. Once you get 5 to 10 miles from the downtown areas of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, the cycling is superb. This area has an excellent network of town and county roads that are in excellent condition with little traffic. I do most of my riding in the area south,west and north of the "top" of Krumkill" area, and the riding is as good as you will find anywhere. Rensselaer County is a great area too. Be prepared to do some climbing. While it's not a mountainous area, there are lots of rolling hills, some quite steep. The Helderbergs and Rensselaer Plateau rise to almost 2000 feet in the west and east respectively, but it's great riding. A little lesson on route markings: US 4 is part of the old federal highway marking system, which were largely replaced by the interstate road system. However, they still carry quite a lot of traffic and in my opinion are no fun to ride on. Routes 66, 150, 43 (in the circles) are state roads. They're quite busy too, especially during morning and evening rush hour, but aren't bad once you get out of the congestion. 74 is a county road. The county roads seem to be marked better in Yahoo maps. Town roads aren't numbered. Stick to the county and town roads where possible.
The Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club is the local touring bicycle club (http://webmhcc.org/rn/index.php). Click on Cue Sheets in the Modules section
Public transportation is run by the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA). Their website is http://www.cdta.org/. I've seen some of their buses with front bike racks.
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Old 01-23-11, 09:44 PM   #10
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I'm actually in Albany right now, but I'm flying back to Texas in the morning. Right at the moment, biycle commuting would be tough; it's supposed to be -14*F (-25*C) in the mornng. Yikes. I hope the car starts to take me to the airport.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-23-11, 09:46 PM   #11
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I do most of my riding in the area south,west and north of the "top" of Krumkill" area, and the riding is as good as you will find anywhere.
That was the area I rode in the pictures I linked to in Post 3 above. I'm stitting in a house in Guilderland, just off Western Ave., right now.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-24-11, 10:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by eugene_b View Post
Thanks very much for the info!

Is there a website or something which I can use to easily visualize and study bus routes? Also, are the buses designed to carry bikes or will I need to use a folding bike in order to be able to carry it in the bus?
CDTA.org, and like the poster above mentioned many of the buses have bike racks on the front.

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Originally Posted by eugene_b View Post
Also, I've read many stuff of Troy being dangerous, full of gangs, etc.. I do understand that probably each and every city has bad and good stuff and you just need to know where it is safe to show up and where it is not. So which parts of Troy would you consider as not safe, the parts where it is not clever to show up? I'll be using that info to design my bike routes.
Troy is pretty safe actually, at least any area in the city that I've been. Maybe there are unsafe spots but I wouldn't know.

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Originally Posted by eugene_b View Post
And regarding routes, I've been studying google maps and I am thinking of going parallel to route 4 while in Troy and then when 4 goes east (near a bridge) just continue moving south (along Stow Ave for example) and finally go through forest. Google earth show that there are some kind of roads going there. Is this possible?
You won't be able to go through the woods where you are talking. There aren't roads. You may be seeing ATV trails, and you probably won't be able to ride bikes on them. I sometimes mountain bike behind the Tech park and the ATV trails are terrible with deep ruts. Plus the hill is very steep.

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Another plan is to make a hook by moving into the direction of Wynantskill and approach Tech Park using something that is called 66 and 74 (not sure whether those are route numbers too, at least the geometrical figure used for it is different).
How do these plans sound in terms of traffic, winter and safety?
While Rt. 4 is busy with cars, there are wide shoulders on both sides for most of it. 66 and 74 do not have shoulders. Anywhere in Troy, Wynantskill, Rensselaer, East/North Greensbush, etc. you will find cars and plenty of them. You're best bet is to take a more direct route and just avoid roads that you think will be unsafe. For me that would be Rt. 4 where it's labeled Mill St on Google maps. Steep hill that cars speed up and no shoulders at all. I don't ride that. Everywhere else on Rt 4 is fine though. Morrison Ave, near Stowe is also very steep with no shoulders. I think your best bet would be to go up Thompson St and take that to Rt 4, but again Thompson is very steep, although very little traffic as it is a side street. Maybe even head up Spring (I live on Spring) and it's not nearly as steep as the others, but there are plenty of cars. If feels safer to me though, but it will be well out of the way to go from South Troy to the Tech park.

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Originally Posted by eugene_b View Post
On a completely different note, I am still thinking where to live so I might decide for some eastern town (like that one near lake) but that's less likely because first of all I wasn't able to find any bus routes from there and secondly my company says that since they are located in tech park I'll be able to get an ID which allow to use all RPI services like gym, pool, etc and they all seem to be located in Troy
Most of the RPI buildings are 'up' on the hill and not in the valley near the river. If you can, I would live up near there. The commute to work will be easier as well.

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And regarding views from Krumkill, is there some place where I can get routes designed for touring? I'll be new to the USA so I would love to tour as much as possible! Also do you have some kind of events, when cyclists join up in small or large groups and go touring across local places?
I believe the other poster answered this.

If you don't mind answering, who are you working for and where are you coming from?

-Alan
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Old 01-25-11, 01:21 PM   #13
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It looks like he's working for one of the companies in the Tech Center, and if I had to guess, may also be a grad student at RPI.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-25-11, 02:00 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the info. And for that website with touring routes, it's awesome! Sorry for the late reply, I've been extremely busy at work and wasn't able to study all the info properly. A bit later I'll study all the road info you posted in details, thanks very much for it! One more thing about route 4 though. How is it in winter? I mean it sure does get cleaned from snow but isn't it covered in ice? Is it scary to share it with cars during that time of year? The temperature alone doesn't worry me, I am from Eastern Europe and have been through cold times

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It looks like he's working for one of the companies in the Tech Center, and if I had to guess, may also be a grad student at RPI.
Nope, I am not I'll be coming from far away lands on the other side of the earth

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If you don't mind answering, who are you working for and where are you coming from?
I am a bit paranoid when it comes to sharing private info at public forum so if it's ok, I'll send that info in a PM
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Old 01-25-11, 05:33 PM   #15
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All of the highway departments around here use a lot of salt and melting agents. The roads are generally clear of snow and ice a day after the snowfall, especially if road has some traffic, the sun comes out and the temperature rises above 25 degrees. You just have to be a little patient to let the road crews do their job. I'd probably worry more about when spring approaches and the snowbanks melt during the day, run onto the shoulders and then freeze at night - the good old morning black ice condition. If there are problem areas where water runs onto the road, the crews will salt it, but they're not going to pay attention to a little ice on the shoulders.
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Old 01-25-11, 09:19 PM   #16
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I was riding in the car with my son this weekend up there, and he has pretty much ZERO experience with ice and snow, and while he made me nervous at times, he kept full control of the car, despite the conditions. If the roads are good enough for him, they are good enough for the vast majority of drivers.
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