Capital Region Public Libraries Support Alternatives to Driving

Submitted by Jennifer Ferriss.

Cycling infographic with statistics about health and environmental benefits of cycling.?

Infographic from “Ride for Reading” 

“I've found Albany to be a great place to get around by bike. A large percentage of our patrons walk, ride or take the bus to our locations, and we want to further encourage this behavior,” says Albany Public Library (APL) Director Scott Jarzombek. 

APL’s service model is multiple, smaller locations spread throughout the city; designed, in part, to reduce car reliance. All of the branches are on major bus routes, and are walkable and bike-able for their neighborhoods. In May, the library installed Bicycle Fixit Stations at several APL branches, provided through Capital District Transportation Council grant funds.  These stations are part of a much bigger push to promote patrons using mass transportation, bikes, or their feet to travel to the library.

Staff at APL can ride the city bus for free as part of a “universal access” partnership with CDTA. The universal access model encourages riders to take full advantage of unlimited service and adopt a sustainable lifestyle by incorporating CDTA travel into their daily living beyond the commute to school or work. Not surprisingly, more staff taking the bus has helped significantly with parking at the branches.

“This is a great library... My only complaint is that the parking lot is always full since it is open for all downtown visitors. My work around is to ride my bicycle.” - Summer 2015 Yelp Review of the Saratoga Springs Public Library

In Saratoga Springs parking problems and their solutions are discussed by officials, business owners and year-round residents all of the time. The library helps to play its part in freeing up parking spaces each year by participating in the Bike to Work Day.

Bike to Work Day is an annual event held each spring throughout the country that promotes bicycling as a fun way to commute to work. This year 23% of Saratoga Springs Public Library employees who biked to work and who have been and continue to ride, as part of the Capital District Transportation Committee-Bikeatoga "Capital Moves" initiative helped the library to win the "Coveted Gearhead Trophy" for "Highest Percentage of Riders/Large Organization" in Saratoga County!

In the Capital Region, this year, over 500 people registered for the challenge, amounting to about 5,700 bicycle miles, replacing about 230 gallons of fuel, 4,500 lbs of CO?, and burning about 245,000 calories! By commuting to work employees are also freeing up parking spaces which helps the economy of the community. To learn more about commuting by bike, and to find solutions to some common concerns, check out the NY Bicycling Coalition’s “Bicycle Commuting 101” presentation.  

Some workplaces are simply not suited for cycling or walking commutes; others simply don’t have a public transportation infrastructure. In these instances, encouraging and fostering a carpooling program through sign-up sheets can go a long way towards getting more cars off the road.

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The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.