South End Connector Bikeway Construction – Almost Done

Mayor Sheehan and the City of Albany promised. Mayor Sheehan and the City of Albany delivered – the South End Connector Bikeway

NOTE: The Connector officially opened on 7/7/20. Please see City of Albany Press Release at the end or this post.

After many years of work, the South End Connector Bikeway is “99 and 44/100 percent” done. Contractors have completed all the heavy construction work. There remain many finish-up projects, but the route is open and usable at this time.

COVID-19 Alert – If you are planning to visit the South End Connector Bikeway or the connecting trails, please observe appropriate precautions for your safety and that of others.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This article presents photos of the completed project, suggests enhancements, calls for some corrective action, and describes what Albany Bicycle Coalition has done and is doing.

Photo 1 – Westbound entrance to the South End Connector Bikeway under I-787 at Broadway and Quay St.

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Photo 2 – View of Connector looking South from under 787 at Broadway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 3 – Closer view of drainage ditch installation with the multiuse pathway and Church St. in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 4 – Church St. now one-way going South with the Connector coming out from under 787. This is the one “pinch point” that required adjusting a lightly used motor vehicle in order for the Connector to avoid the concrete support for 787.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 5 – Connector straight ahead looking south.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 6 – Church St. swinging off west into Bassett St.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 7 – Straight path south under 787 with intersection with Vine St./Church St. and with cycle track and rail yards coming up in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOVERVIEW – In 2013, theAlbany Bicycle Coalition (ABC)joined with the Revitalize Our Waterfront (ROW) group to plan, promote, and design a connection between the soon-to-be-completed Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and the long-established Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. We recognized that the 1.5-mile gap with heavy urban traffic on S. Pearl St. would be a barrier to experienced riders but even more so for recreational or novice cyclists. ABC and ROW conducted rides of the proposed trail, attended innumerable meetings, posted project updates, conferred with neighbors, gathered support from residents and others, and submitted proposals for route design.

Here’s a March 2015 chilly ride to explore the proposed South End Connector Bikeway – OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We also recognized that a neighborhood bicycle route would support those who rely on their bicycles for mobility – jobs, school, heath care, family. It would help make the “south end” a livable community. From a recreational standpoint, connecting the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and the neighborhood to the waterfront and Corning Riverfront Park would ameliorate the downside of I-787 and provide pleasure to many.

Photo 8 – Looking North at the intersection of the Connecter with Vine St./Church St. showing construction in process. At this point, people on bicycles can head right or east on Church St. toward the Hudson River to access Broadway, the Port of Albany, and the City Island Park. City Island Park can serve as a starting point for riding the South End Connector Bikeway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 9 – Another view of the Frontage Rd. with the Connector crossing Church St. and going to the left and then right-north under 787.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 10 – Beautiful median with newly planted trees and shrubbery on the left separating the Connector from the rail yards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 11Tank Bombs are still there although currently few in number. They will be back as soon as Americans resume normal gasoline consumption, OPEC opens the plug, and Bakken Crude again becomes price competitive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 12 – Intersection of the Connector track with S. Pearl St. on the right. Heavy trucks much in evidence speeding along S. Pearl St.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 13 – Two-way cycle track heading south toward the trailhead for the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail.

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ENHANCEMENTS – Here are enhancements and safety issues that ABC believes the South End Connector Bikeway needs. While many of these may already be on the city’s agenda, our goal is to help ensure that nothing is left out. ABC members have observed the Connector over its entire length and studied it for several years. While the newly completed pavement is a giant step forward, several locations need additional work for safety and wayfinding.

 Here are specific areas needing attention:

  • Quay St./Broadway Intersection at USS Slater/Dutch Apple – Large, busy, hazardous intersection. Bicyclists coming south on the waterfront bike lanes cannot see the South End Connector Bikeway since it is diagonally across the intersection under I-787. New, more prominent wayfinding signs, a map, and green pavement markings, would bring riders from the waterfront to Connector without riding in the street.
  • Obsolete “Bike Route” Sign – Church St. at Rensselaer St. The sign points west towards Pearl St., and thus directs riders away from Connector. Now that Connector is functional, the old route sign will confuse people on bicycles. They should be blocked off and then replaced.
  • Security Lighting Under I-787 – The long S-curve north of the Church St. intersection is very isolated and cannot be seen from street. Ideally, there would also be security cameras.
  • North End of I-787 Service Road at Church St. – Crosswalk/bikeway needs to be marked on the pavement (after the street completed).
  • Raised Barrier – At 700 S. Pearl St., a painted oval was recently added. However, cars still pull into this space to discharge passengers. The virtual barrier is ineffective. If the city cannot install a barrier in a timely manner, it should place at least a “No Parking” or “No Standing” sign.
  • S. Pearl St. Parking Lot – Entrance from the cycle track needs stop signs for southbound riders entering the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail parking lot as cars may be exiting from or entering into it. Need a map of the Connector adjacent to path.

Photo 14 – What a relief to be separated from speeding, gigantic, roaring trucks tailgating people on bicycles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 15 – Cycle track entrance from the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail trailhead/parking lot. Note nice concrete barriers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 16/17 – What’s that name again?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 18 – Riders coming off the rail trailhead protected by “Jersey Barriers.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 19 – Cycle track in front of the Center for Disability Services with curbing and plastic bollards separating it from the travel lane.

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Photo 19A – Lane markings on S. Pearl St.

No. 19 APhoto 20 – Exiting S. Pearl St. portion of cycle track and entering the frontage road cycle track on the right. Note CDTA bus stop. Yield to those pedestrians!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 21 – Swinging onto the cycle track. S. Pearl St. going under 787 to Rt. 9W and the Thruway interchange. Those people on bicycles wishing to go directly downtown can continue on S. Pearl St. and not enjoy banging over the cursed Belgian Blocks at the intersections. The free, interactive BikeAlbanyMap is a helpful tool for navigating from the Connector.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 22 – Stanchion for trail lighting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 23 Good drainage!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 24 – Looking south for another view of workers at the Church St. cycle track traffic island. Connector exit/entrance on the lower left. Obey that STOP sign! At this point, people on bicycles can stay on road to the right and pass under 787 to access Green St. and the neighborhood.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 24A – Beginning of S curve leading to under-787 segment at Vine St./Church St.

No. 24 APhoto 25 – Planting grass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 26 – Some work still to be completed. Note construction equipment and staged materials.

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Photo 26A – The long S-curve north of the Church St. intersection is isolated and cannot be seen from street.

No. 26 APhoto 27 – Looking north on Church St. that is now one way southbound. The cycle track swings out into the former travel lane. This is the one “pinch point” in the entire project. Again, people on bicycles can exit the Connector and access the neighborhood via Bassett St. See the BikeAlbanyMap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 28 – Virtual street lighting?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 29 – Approaching the north terminus of the Connector, the path turns hard right to the east and becomes 12+ feet wide. It goes under 787 toward the Dutch Apple/Slater mooring. Broadway traffic zooming in from the left. At this spot, a SUV struck and killed 60-year-old cyclist Jose Perez on 8/3/06.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 30-33 – Looking east toward the River with Broadway swooping off to the right/south. When people in cars turn right onto Broadway they will be coming up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only traffic control is a (meaningless) yield sign – where it is clear to a driver that there to no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. More demonstrative traffic control needed here. (No, that’s not a crossing guard standing under the green interstate-style sign in the first photo.)

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Many people on bicycles will be using the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail, South End Connector Bikeway, and Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail because THEY ARE NOT PREPARED OR WILLING TO COPE WITH motor vehicle traffic. Between Voorheesville and the 4th and Broadway trailhead in Watervliet, cyclists do not have contend with on-road motor vehicle traffic except at this Broadway/Quay St. point. That is, 32 miles round trip without motor vehicle interaction (other than crossings).

Photos 34 – The South End Connector Bikeway and Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail are feeders to the Empire State and Erie Canalway trails as they merge into the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.

Just think – Voorheesville to Buffalo!

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For earlier, in-process reports and photos on the South End Connector Bikeway go here.

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Here is the City of Albany news release on the 7/7/20 “grand opening” ribbon cutting:

 CITY OF ALBANY – OFFICE OF THE MAYOR – 24 EAGLE STREET – ALBANY, NEW YORK 12207

* * NEWS RELEASE * *

Date: July 7, 2020, Contact: David Galin, dgalin@albanyny.gov

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Partners Announce Opening of South End Bike/Pedestrian Connector

ALBANY, NY – Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined state and local partners to unveil the highly anticipated South End Connector, a $1.7 million project that links the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail to the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail along the Hudson River. The trail creates the City’s first physically separated two-way cycle path – a safe, attractive, and environmentally friendly corridor for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between these two bike and pedestrian trails.

Mayor Sheehan also announced the kick-off of Phase Two of the project – which will engage the South End community and others in finding ways to make the space surrounding the South End Connector underneath Interstate 787 more attractive and engaging to the public.

About the South End Connector – The 1.5-mile South End Connector features the first physically separated two-way cycle track in the City. The trail is protected by a landscaped buffer from the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trailhead to the Interstate 787 Frontage Road. At Church Street, the protected trail continues underneath Interstate 787 for a walk or ride all the way to the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail connection. The South End Connector also provides traffic calming measures along South Pearl Street, slowing traffic and creating a direct route for the residents of the South End to access Corning Waterfront Park.

 The South End Connector is also a part of the Empire State Trail. When completed by the end of 2020, the Empire State Trail will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.

 South End Connector Phase Two Launched – Phase Two of the project seeks to activate the space underneath Interstate 787. The City’s Department of Planning & Development and consultants Creighton Manning and Landing Studio will be conducting outreach to the public in the fall of 2020, finalizing a design over the winter, and planning construction in 2021. The City hopes residents and visitors will use their imaginations to propose ideas for making this area more attractive and for amenities that would make their experience more enjoyable.

 Partnerships and Funding –The City of Albany would like to thank the many project partners who helped bring this trail from Feasibility Study through Construction. The South End Connector is a model example of how Governor Cuomo’s Consolidated Funding Application can be leveraged to create State and Local partnerships that result in high quality infrastructure that increases our residents’ quality of life. This project was made possible through funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee, New York State Department of State, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Assemblymember John McDonald, and New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “When we started this project, I asked that we explore all the potential of this important bike and pedestrian connector – and this project has done just that. We’ve created the City’s first physically separated two-way cycle trail – a corridor that will make it safer and more environmentally friendly for residents and visitors alike to travel between Albany’s South End and Corning Preserve. Thank you to each of the state and local partners, including area residents, who have come together to plan and deliver this important addition to our City. I very much look forward to working with South End residents and others in the region on Phase II.”

New York State Senator Neil Breslin said, “The South End Connector bike trail will increase access to green space, reduce pollution and enhance the South End neighborhood. I applaud the City of Albany, Assemblymembers Pat Fahy and John McDonald and their many partners for an initiative that promotes outdoor activities and connects our communities.”

New York State Assemblymember John McDonald said, “The completion of Phase One of the South End Connector provides a guide toward creating a more accessible city that can be enjoyed by residents in this region and throughout the State. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this two-way cycle track to explore our communities.  I am happy to have been able to dedicate funding to this project and I look forward to the competition of Phase Two in the near future!”

New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “Capital Region residents and visitors alike will now have the opportunity to utilize what is now a 32-mile paved and uninterrupted bike-hike path. I am proud to have helped secure state funding for the South End Connector project, which will help to drive increased foot traffic and mobility in and around downtown Albany and our waterfront. Multi-use trails drive consumers to our locally owned small businesses, produce multiplier effects for the communities they run through, and ultimately help encourage alternative modes of transportation – helping to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Moreover, I am pleased this long-identified gap in our regional trail system has finally been closed – priming it for the completion of the Empire State Trail slated for this year.”

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC’s Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is making significant investments statewide to help local governments join New York’s nation-leading efforts to fight climate change and build healthy, resilient, and equitable communities. DEC is proud to be a contributing partner in the City of Albany’s new connector trail, a project that helps advance multiple goals by reducing greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions and increasing public access to green space for the South End community.”

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The Department of State is proud to support the completion of the South End Connector Trail in the City of Albany through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. In the current pandemic, we’ve seen the critical role parks, trails, and open spaces play in overcoming social isolation and bringing people together outdoors at a safe distance. The South End Connector Trail is an integral link to the Empire State Trail, which is connecting New Yorkers and enhancing outdoor recreation and community vitality across the state.”

Capital District Transportation Committee Executive Director Michael Franchini said, “It is extremely rare to see a transportation planning study implemented so quickly. This CDTC study, which was sponsored by the City of Albany, was completed in December 2017.  In that short 2 ½ year period funding was obtained, and design and construction was completed. It is a real tribute to all the stakeholders, including the City, New York State, and the neighborhood; and to their incredible cooperation.”

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Northern Blvd. Bicycle Lane Network

[UPDATED 7-1-20]

There are  0.2 miles of new bicycle lanes on Northern Blvd.-Manning Blvd. running from Pennsylvania Ave./McCrossin St. to Lark Dr.  This expands the Northern Blvd. /Memorial Hospital area bicycle lane network to a total of 1.4 miles. The network connects to the Village of Menands/Department of Transportation 1.5 miles of bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. (See more background and photos here: Bicycle Lanes in the City of Albany.)

This brings the City of Albany total installed bicycle lanes to 4.9 milesThe final 2009 Albany Bicycle Master Plan designated 18 “major bikeways” within the City of Albany. While the plan did not specify bicycle road treatments, it suggested many – Including bicycle lanes but with long stretches of shared lanes. In several instances, the plan called for narrowing motor vehicle travel lanes to provide space for bicycle lanes. The approximate total miles of these 18 bikeways is 40.64 (using Google Maps distance function). While not a 1:1 comparison, this 4.9 miles of bicycle lanes is 12 percent of this total.

With anticipated completion of the South End Bikeway Connector (about 1.5 miles of cycle track/bicycle lane plus a side path), the total will be 6.3 miles or 16 percent of the 2009 total.

New bicycle lanes – looking southeast from Northern Blvd. toward Manning Blvd. The bridge crosses the I-90/I-787 entrance/exit ramps.

Looking SE on Northern-Manning at Rt9 Overpass 6-18-20

A view in the same direction with Northern Blvd. petrovehicle traffic entering from the left and Pennsylvania Ave. on the right (taken from McCrossin Ave.).

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Looking back up Manning Blvd. toward Northern Blvd. from Lark Drive. The Albany Fire Department Arbor Hill Station is to the right. Note buffered bicycle lane.

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There’s still a challenging “shared lane” area on the Rt. 9 overpass – high speeds, no rideable shoulders, entrance/exit ramps to/from Northern Blvd. to Rt. 9.  The proper use of a Shared Lane is to connect “real” bicycle facilities. According to National Association of City Transportation Officials (https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bikeway-signing-marking/shared-lane-markings/ ) Shared Lane Markings (SLMs), or “sharrows,” are road markings used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles. The shared lane marking is a pavement marking with a variety of uses to support a complete bikeway network; it is not a facility type and should not be considered a substitute for bike lanes, cycle tracks, or other separation treatments where these types of facilities are otherwise warranted or space permits.

In the instant case, the SL do connect two of bike lane segments. It’s still a squeeze unless the rider ‘takes the lane.”

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City of Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan Public Meetings

(UPDATED 6/7/20)

Throughout June, the Albany Department of Planning and Development will host six virtual meetings to discuss cycling and walking in the City. Each of the six meetings will be based on a grouping of neighborhoods and corresponds with the meeting numbers listed below.

  • Neighborhood Meeting #1:  Monday, June 15th – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Center Square, Downtown, Hudson Park, Lincoln Park, Mansion, Pastures, Washington Park Washington Square) Zoom Registration Link: https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYkf-irrTosHNEZZ23Vytg5JOlaRqZYHoDA

  • Neighborhood Meeting #2: Wednesday, June 17th – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Delaware Avenue, Lincoln Park, Mount Hope, Second Avenue, South End) Zoom Registration Link: https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUtc-mqpzItGtdg9NDxdZlgXs5zmbIncD4o

  • Neighborhood Meeting #3: Monday, June 22nd – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Beverwyck, Helderberg, New Scotland/Woodlawn, Normanskill, Pine Hills, Whitehall) Zoom Registration Link: https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAlcemspzosH9SIAV9I10xSmxkeyW0ju8HQ

  • Neighborhood Meeting #4: Monday, June 29th – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Buckingham Lake, Campus Area, Eagle Hill, Manning Boulevard, Melrose, Pine Bush, Upper Washington Avenue) Zoom Registration Link:https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwsdO-vpzktGNRKwuYtJtJkZ3s1FdOeneQs

  • Neighborhood Meeting #5: Wednesday, June 24th – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow, Ten Broeck Triangle, West End, West Hill) Zoom Registration Link:https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYuc-qorjIrGtI2erS3TKvWgm9EmVmD1Twg

  • Neighborhood Meeting #6: Thursday, June 25th – 6:30pm – 8pm

(Bishop’s Gate, North Albany) Zoom Registration Link: https://nelsonnygaard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJErdO-hqjstG9QO5BPn57eWaotd-keWJrTR

To learn more about this project, please visit the project website and watch the project introduction video. On the project website, you can also take the project survey and use a WikiMAP to provide location-specific comments about cycling and walking in the City.

Contact  dpd@albanyny.gov if you require any accommodations for the upcoming meetings or have any questions about the project.

 

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South End Bikeway Connector Rumbles Along – Cont’d (5/18/20)

[Comments received on this post and on a related email are posted at the end.]

For the first time, a visitor to the South End Bikeway Connector site can get a clear picture of the entire route and layout from the trailhead at Old S. Pearl St. to the Albany Riverfront Park at the Slater/Dutch Apple anchorages.

  • The on-street cycle track on S. Pearl St. is complete except for perhaps signage, painting, and other “clean up” activities.
  • The portion along I-787 Frontage Road/northbound entry road is graded but needs paving a lot of finish work.

SEBC 787 Frontage Rd 6-6-20

  • The “linear park” under I-787 from Church St./Vine St. to Broadway and the Hudson River is clearly visible although in the early stages of preparation. The only area that is not apparent is the bump out to skirt the massive I-787 support structure where the connector will be on-road at the Church St./Bassett St. intersection until Rensselaer St. (Church St. will be one-way south for petrovehicles in this area.)

SEBC Under 787 6-6-20

For site photos and a complete route description, follow these links:

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COMMENTS RECIVED AS OF 5-20-20:

  • I just came that way and there is a van parked there – might be the same car. I agree there should be signage and maybe there will be when it’s all complete.  The glass and other debris situation is something that was brought up at the various community meetings – with the outstanding question as to who will maintain that section.
  • That darn Van is parked there most of the time.
  • What about the glass on the section along the ramp of 787? It has been horrible.
  • Went home this way about 4:30 pm.  There were no barriers this afternoon from the bus shelter south.  Woman in the silver van was parking in the bike lane as I was passing (well there was one barrier but someone knocked it away).
  • Is this section of the trail actually completed and open?  Have not ridden this area lately since it appeared that a top coat and other work was not done, some barriers still existed.  
  • When I rode home from the rail trail, there were barriers blocking the bike lane!
  • I haven’t been on S. Pearl lately, so I’ve missed the van scofflaw, but I have been coming home from downtown via the river and Broadway/Church and then on the other 787 access road that exits at S. Pearl near McCarty and 1st Ave. (across from Cherry Hill house). I’ve noticed that the 787 access road that you note is being prepped for repaving. Let’s hope that will alleviate some of the glass issues, for awhile at least. I rode on that section last month and you are correct in that the amount of glass was extraordinary, it seemed to be covering nearly every square inch. I ended up with a flat on my rear tire. It made me wonder if there was some sort of weird religious cult that required its practitioners to go out and smash glass in places used by bicyclists and pedestrians. As I ride that way, I can also see that they are doing extensive work under 787 and in making the connection across Church St between the access road and under the highway. Last week I was able to ride a little bit under the highway as they had graded the roadway, but can’t this week as there is a sizeable gap between the curb and the proposed cycle path. Still have a hard time picturing people actually hanging out there, no matter how much they prettify it. Riding through downtown has been eerie these last few weeks, but boy, I’m going to miss the reduced amount of traffic once we return to whatever new normal we will be returning to.
  • Drove past it last night … People are using the Connector for parking.  This must be stopped before it becomes normalized.  

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Filed under Albany County Rail Trail, Albany Riverfront Park, City Review, South End Bikeway Connector

Accessory Obsessing – Brake Lever Covers

In July 2007, the products “Lizard Skins Lever Grips” (for “greater control and comfort’) seemed (at $3.99/pr.) as exactly the right accessory for brake levers on a flat bar. So perfect that, after “testing,” a second pair was obtained and then a third (to replace the first which were worn out) in August 2019 (now $8.00). Here they are worn out . . .

These grips had a nice fabric feel with a sewn seam and a rubberized liner. They mounted easily with the ever-reliable lubricant hairspray.

When both the second a third sets (on two different flat bars) wore out, it seemed like an easy task to get replacements.

Answer: NO.

Lizard Skins  offers all sorts of neat bicycle and sports accessories but brake lever grips no longer. The best result after a lot of web searching was “not available.”

Returning to the search recently, up came “Race Ready Pro Cycling” which leads to EBay  for a similar product in silicone at $8.99 and here they are installed in black.

These would also fit “North Road” handlebars but that seems a little de classe.

Just  ordered another set in red and one in black pair at $3.19 from another vendor . . . who turns out to ship from the “KEP Sorting Center,” Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – where else? Here is the proof:

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