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Add bike lanes to Sara-Placid Highway, Old Military Road

November 28, 2011
By James E. Morganson, Code enforcement officer, town of North Elba

On June 21, New York state passed laws that require state, county and local transportation agencies to consider roadway design features that increase the safety of bicyclists. The laws' intent is to build roads for all users.

With that design criteria in mind, the following letters were sent to many of our local politicians in the hope that state Route 86 and Old Military Road will be improved for all users.


Bike path along Route 86

The announced delay in paving Route 86 between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid is a disappointment; however, it may provide a big opportunity. I hope the two communities will use this extra time to plan for and insure that real "bike lanes" are included in the reconstruction of Route 86.

While the debate about how best to position a bike path along the railroad bed is sure to continue, the opportunity to link the two communities by a bike path can have an easy solution.

Not only can the lack of a bike path be solved, but it can be solved almost immediately. The opportunity I speak of is the proposed repavement of the Sara-Placid Highway, a.k.a. Route 86. All that needs to be done is to include a bike path on both sides of the road. State and local officials have long promised to support a bike path. This is the simple way to achieve this goal.

Now is the time to act! Please encourage all your fellow area politicians to insist that his bike path gets included and completed without any further delay.


Complete lack of bike lanes

This office recently received information about the state Adirondack Park Agency permit for Old Military Road. It was disturbing to find that no accommodations for bike lanes were included in the approved design.

In fact, it appears no one even included bike lanes in the application for the permit.

Therefore, I write on behalf of the multitude of possible users who have been shortchanged by the lack of inclusion of a bike lane along Old Military Road.

Sheer frustration is another compelling reason to question how come roads continue to be maintained without addressing the need (expressed desire) for safe biking and multi-use lanes.

In the example of Old Military Road, numerous studies were done and hours of engineered surveying were completed. Public hearings took place, and promises were made. Local citizens had a high expectation that bike lanes were part of the design.

In fact, everyone who attended the public hearings was told bike lanes would be included. The plans the public saw included bike lanes.

This community has a comprehensive plan that supports the need for including bike lanes. Various times during the year, we all witness and are alarmed, even angered, by the conflict between bicyclists and vehicles.

On any given day, Old Military Road is being used by the finest athletes in the world. On a good day, one might encounter a gold, silver or bronze medalist just trying to stay conditioned for a quality event, World Cup or even an Olympic event.

Until now, the general public was led to believe bike and multi-use lanes would be included in any improvements to Old Military Road.

So, I now ask, "How can this situation be corrected/re-evaluated?"

Please advise what you and the town board will be doing about including bike lanes throughout this community.

If another group or committee is necessary to complete this goal, I would work on the effort.

Absent any formal arrangement, I will continue to promote a dialogue on bike lanes.


James E. Morganson is the code enforcement officer for the town of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid.



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