While there were public meetings on the narrowing of Delaware Avenue, to some degree it always felt like the decision to narrow it was already made by town government and the informational meetings were merely to convince residents that the right decision had been made. Many people I speak to do not like the proposal, but believed there were no options or that the vocal minority unreasonably impacted the decision.
The current plan for Delaware Avenue is to reduce it to two lanes at its busiest point, install bike lanes and reduce speed, with the prevailing theory that this will not increase time of travel in any significant way and will make it easier to turn into and out of the Avenue, despite a number of new large apartment buildings along the road. The Capital Region Bike Coalition came out to Bethlehem in full force in support. Every time I mention this to anyone who is a frequent user or a business owner, they usually express some disbelief that traffic won’t be affected or that this is even a good idea. Bicycle access should be improved along this stretch, but most importantly, we should be improving safety and access for children, the elderly, and the disabled. We also need to minimize disruption for residents who drive this daily and businesses who should have easy access to their businesses. I’m not understanding how adding bike lanes and reducing Delaware Avenue to two lanes helps the majority of users or children, the elderly and the disabled. Let’s work together on a plan that all residents will appreciate.
It’s up to the residents of Bethlehem to have our elected officials work harder, think outside the box, and make out town unique by working together to come up with creative solutions. I do believe that we can come up with a solution which makes it easier to bike Delaware Avenue while helping those who need the most help and making Delmar an inviting community for children, the elderly and the disabled, while supporting local businesses and auto commuters.