Deciding between a million different roads to bike on

Luke Buchovich, Contributing Writer

Cities and towns today are constantly challenging each other to grow, leading to rapid technological development. When a city develops some new, revolutionary idea, it becomes standard across all cities quickly. However, with so much challenge and innovation, a simple question arises for our home of Schenectady: Where are the bike lanes?

Bike lanes are hallmarks of progressive cities. It may seem that they are the bare minimum for a city to show they at least somewhat care about the environment. An organized system of bike lanes makes it more likely that people will opt out of driving and instead ride to work, and every driver-turned-rider means less carbon emission. Cities like Copenhagen and Portland are bastions of biking, with copious and well-thought-out lanes that make bikers feel safe and effective. Other cities have looked to them in planning out their bike routes, so why hasn’t Schenectady?

Sure, there are a few bike paths around Schenectady where usage is comfortable and easy, but using bikes on the roads is incredibly difficult. The roads are incredibly thin around Schenectady, and there are cars parked on every curb, making them even thinner for bikers to use. Adding a bike lane to these streets would be met with heated opposition as the parking laws would have to be changed, leaving the thousands of cars parked along the curbs of Schenectady with nowhere to park. Schenectady would have to pay for new parking lots, and roads would become even more jammed with the new wave of bikers.

While some may join the bikers, others would oppose the change. Pouring money into making bike lanes – which would likely result in having to create new parking lots or other options for the displaced cars – would draw funds and energy away from the revitalization of areas like State Street, which are attracting more people and money to the area.

While these negative observations suggest that Schenectady most likely won’t take this path, there is one huge reason to follow through. Creating bike lanes and pushing for people to actually use them is a very progressive move as most cities rely on cars and other modes of transport that are detrimental to the environment.

Encouraging bike lanes and the use of them for clean travel could have many positive effects. In an era of redevelopment, namely around State Street, progressive steps like this could draw even more people in a pivotal moment in Schenectady’s history. The potential to draw in new residents and revenue combined with environmental benefits make bike lanes seem like a no brainer, so now Schenectady just needs a place for all these cars.