Not all suburbs of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy are hard to cycle in. I spent thirty years living half-way between Voorheesville and New Salem, and went everywhere in the Tri-cities area by bike all that time -- at first, my bike was the *only* way I could get around; I took my first driving lessons after we moved there.

When people finally stopped freaking out when I showed up for an appointment on a bike, they started freaking out whenever I showed up in a car. Perhaps they believed that only devout religious ferver can ever get any adult onto a bike.

Since there wasn't any supermarket in Voorheesville until shortly before we moved away, I regularly bought groceries at a Price Chopper not too far west of Stuyvesant Plaza. I also went to Albany once or twice a year to buy underwear at the Lodge's on Pearl Street, and to Schenectady once a month to deliver reproduction copies to a printshop, until the printshop went broke and we got a more-convenient one on Route 20. And, of course, I went to shopping centers and big-box stores north and west of Albany. I particularly liked coming back from Wal*mart by way of Six-Mile reservoir. I rode to Clifton Park only once or twice; there was nothing there I couldn't get closer to home.

Aside from rare outbreaks of chip-seal, which caused vibration that made my hands swell and itch until cars pounded the chips flat, only two roads were any problem. (Well, the interstates were a royal pain and a Chinese Wall, but I mostly knew ways around them.)

New Karner Road had breakdown lanes that, from the driver's seat of a car, appeared to be paved shoulders plenty wide enough for a bike to get well away from the traffic -- but they hadn't been so much paved as used as a dumping ground for unwanted asphalt, and the lanes were not continuous. Some stretches were long enough to be worth merging in and out of traffic for -- but there was a drop-off between the travel lanes and the breakdown lane sharp enough to spin a car; since the breakdown lane was wide enough to allow shenanigans, it was reasonably safe to drop over the cliff onto the "shoulder", if you turned sharp, but there were very few places where I could get back onto the roadway without stopping and picking up the bike.

I didn't use New Karner Road if there was another road that went where I wanted to go, but if the stretch of Western Avenue between State Farm and Stuyvesant Plaza was the only way to get somewhere, I just didn't go. The president of the bicycle club gave up riding to work when they painted "bike lanes" on Western, but I had alternate routes. If I wanted to go to Crossgates, Normanskill/Johnston led straight there, and if I wanted to go to Stuyvesant Plaza, I could turn off Johnston onto Church road, which ran sorta parallel to Western, cut through an apartment complex to Schoolhouse road just before Church came out on Western, and cross the interstate on Schoolhouse.

Looking at the map, I don't see how I got from Schoolhouse to Stuyvesant, but that route did get me past the "push button to teleport" section underneath the Northway.

I usually came back through the Sherwood Forest housing development north of Western, but don't recall how I got there. (Checks Map) Ah, by way of Gipp Road.

The map says that Paradise Natural Foods is still on Gipp Road. I miss Paradise Foods, particularly when I'm collecting dried fruit for my Christmas cakes. Warsaw Health Food is a much smaller place because this is a much smaller town. But they have a walk-in cooler of flours; Paradise had only a dairy case. (And May through October, I can get fresh-ground flour at Bonneyville Mill.)

Getting back to your question: the area where I grew up is extremely bike-unfriendly now. They put cheap gravel on the roads --one of the large stones in the cheap gravel once flew up and knocked my car out of gear-- and they use the money saved on gravel to pay graders to keep the stones so loose that heavy cars have trouble. The rolling stones make it difficult to walk along the road, even at the extreme edge. (They've also stopped maintaining the ditches.)

Even when gravel roads are properly maintained, a five-mile trip on a bike *is* the remarkable achievement your co-workers think it is. (Particularly on the sort of bike that children in the forties rode.) I never attempted to ride to any destination as long as we lived at the Scircleville place -- every place that wasn't in walking distance was a major expedition by car.