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Benefits of Complete Streets

scale weighing pros and cons

A choice for Bethlehem

At a public meeting on Feb. 16, 2017, residents and business owners were asked to weigh the benefits of the complete streets project against the one drawback— a 40 to 50 second slower commute during rush hour— and overwhelmingly decided in favor of complete streets.

The complete streets project will benefit all Bethlehem residents, no matter where you live in town.

  • Decreased chance of crashing when driving on Delaware Ave.
  • Easier to turn into and out of businesses.
  • Easier access to businesses from the bike path.
  • A walkable neighborhood that will lead to new shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
  • Easier bike access to downtown Albany.
  • Safer for children, seniors, and parents to cross Delaware.
  • Better for the environment.
  • Pathway to planting street trees and other beautification measures.

Safety

For drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists

Delaware Ave. has a higher than average crash rate for cars hitting other cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Federal data indicates that complete streets reduce crash rates by 26%.

Crosswalks are currently spaced half a mile apart, so pedestrians often run across four lanes of traffic to cross the road. The project will add about six additional crosswalks with flashing yellow warning lights and overhead illumination. Some crosswalks may also have raised center islands for additional safety.

Currently, cyclists share travel lanes, requiring drivers to change lanes to get around them. The complete streets project will provide bike lanes for cyclist and driver safety. Buses will use these lanes to pull out of traffic at bus stops, allowing traffic to keep moving around them.

smashed car

smashed car

“I was on my way to pick up my daughter from Elsmere Elementary. As I was turning, my car got pushed by a pick up truck into the My Place parking lot. The truck severely damaged the frame of my car, and my back and my neck hurt immensely. As I waited for the EMTs to arrive I considered how thankful I was that my daughter had not been in the car. If she had been in the car and this happened on the way home…. It goes down as one of the most terrifying experiences in my life. We clearly need to make this road safer for drivers, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and most importantly for the children who attend Elsmere elementary. “

– Erin, Euclid Ave.

David

 

“I got into a car crash in January 2020 turning left onto Delaware Ave. I support complete streets to increase driver safety.”

– David, Yorkshire Ln.

Complete streets reduce crashes by 26%

Turning right onto Delaware Ave. from a side street or business will be easier because traffic will be moving more slowly, so drivers won’t need to accelerate as quickly.

Turning left onto Delaware Ave. will be easier. After the complete streets project, drivers will wait for the travel lane from the left to be clear and pull out into the center turn lane, then wait for the travel lane on the right to be clear and merge into it.

Turning left off of Delaware to a side street or business will be less dangerous because drivers will wait in the center turn lane, not in the travel lane with cars approaching from the rear at 40 mph.

Easier turns

Into and out of businesses and side streets

Better for business

A pleasant, safe roadway will bring more foot and car traffic to businesses.

The complete streets project will increase traffic to businesses by improving walkability and providing a sense of community.

Currently, there is a high commercial property vacancy rate in the project area. In contrast, there is a low commercial vacancy rate in the Four Corners area, which has a lower speed limit and lower car traffic volume.

Businesses will also benefit from easier access from the rail trail.

David VanLuven

“Businesses seeking to move into Bethlehem typically focus on the Four Corners area because they want to be in a walkable neighborhood. I fully expect that making Delaware Ave in Elsmere a safe main street for pedestrians and drivers will make that area a draw for new businesses as well.”

– David VanLuven, Bethlehem Supervisor

“We found that employment levels rose after Complete Streets projects—in some cases, significantly. Communities reported increased net new businesses after Complete Streets improvements, suggesting that Complete Streets projects made the street more desirable for businesses. In eight of the ten communities with available data, property values increased after the Complete Streets improvements. And eight communities reported their Complete Streets projects at least partly responsible for increased investment from the private sector.”

Smart Growth America

Delaware Ave. is Elsmere’s main street. The complete streets project will change it from a high-speed commuter arterial road to a place that anchors the neighborhood.

The project will provide easier access to and from the the rail trail.

Neighborhood character

A livable main street

Sustainability

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The complete streets project will encourage people to walk, bike, and take the bus rather than drive.

A beautiful town like Bethlehem deserves a beautiful gateway. Street trees and other beautification measures were not part of the original project plan, but town officials have indicated they will seek funding to add it to the project. The sidewalk improvement work that is part of the complete streets project is a prerequisite for this. Without it, the town won’t be doing any tree planting or other beautification work except on an occasional case-by-case basis, like at Elsmere Elementary.

Path to
beautification

Getting ready for street trees