Category Archives: South End Bikeway Connector

Follow Up on ABC Project Proposals for the City of Albany

On 2/20/21, the Albany Bicycle Coalition sent a follow-up letter to Mayor Sheehan on a number of proposals that we submitted between 2016 and 2020. It is our position that each of these – albeit each with a primary focus on cycling – would add immeasurably to the safety, convenience, ambience, and economic vitality of the city regardless of their benefit for people on bicycles. Each project stands on its own merit in this regard.

February 20, 2021
RE: ABC Initiatives – Various

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

Over the last several years, the Albany Bicycle Coalition proposed a number of projects to enhance the value of our community to all its residents and to those who visit or work in the City of Albany. I would like your assistance in tracing down the status of these proposals with in the city. The base document for each item is attached for your reference.

  • South End Connector Safety Modifications (11/14/20) – One of the safety issues – the intersection of the South End Connector with Church St. and Broadway is of long standing. We were surprised that it remained unaddressed in the final configuration of the Connector. The second safety issue resulted from the new junction between S. Pearl St. and the Connector at the I-787 S. Pearl St. overpass. The city needs to address them both. At the same time we submitted these recommendations, we added some items to enhance the values of the Connector to the “south end” community.
  • Clinton Ave. Refreshment of Bicycle Lane Pavement Markings (10/12/20) – The benefits of the Clinton Ave. bicycle lanes to residents (traffic calming in a residential area), to people in cars (calmed speed with fewer wrecks) and to people on bicycles (easy climb “up the hill” and safety will only be maximized if the lanes are maintained so they are visible to all.
  • New Scotland Ave. Major Bicycle Commuter Route (4/18/20) – Again, New Scotland Ave. would jump to the top of any list as a major commuter route for people on bicycles as it connects many residential areas to places of employment or service along it. The section from Manning Blvd. to Bethlehem is the singular route for cyclists and is blessed with room for superior bicycle facilities for much of its length. Additional, those who participated in the traffic study were clear in their desire for traffic calming.
  • Western Ave. Traffic Calming (7/21/19) – As in the 2009 Albany Bicycle Master Plan, the November 2020 draft of the new Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan calls for Western Ave. to be a “major bikeway” with recommended protected bicycle lanes. Regardless, the clear need is to convert immediately Western Ave. into a traffic-calmed street with the same or better treatment as on Madison Ave. There is no evident need to wait for yet another study, as Western Ave. will always bubble to the top of the improvement list.
  • Albany-Colonie Connector (10/2/18) – Albany Bicycle Coalition is on a campaign for bicycle connections between the various municipalities. We want to develop a network of relatively low-stress, low-traffic routes. The Albany-Colonie Connector is one of our prime goals as it will join the Washington Ave. Ext./Guilderland to the Town of Colonie and Niskayuna and lead to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. The route is clear and all it needs is support of the municipalities to embrace it with way finding signage, and repair and bicycle facilities such as bicycle lane and protected bicycle lanes.
  • Close Washington Park Road to Motor Vehicles (8/26/16) – When the water/sewer repairs on S. Lake Ave. closed the park road along the southwest Washington Park Lake, it was apparent that this road need not be available to people in cars. Closing it permanently would have two benefits: (1) partially returning Washington Park to its park status and (2) preparing the way for more reductions in motor vehicle traffic in the park as part of the proposed Washington Park-Lark St. study.

Mayor Sheehan, as always the Albany Bicycle Coalition believes that it has put forward ideas that will enhance the City of Albany for all street users by adding safety, economic growth, and pleasantness. When we were pushing for protected bicycle lanes on Madison Ave., you once stated to me “protected bicycle lanes would make it a ‘bicycle project’” vs. a traffic calming project. While we operate under the umbrella of cycling and the needs of people on bicycles, my several years of observing the new Madison Ave. and many of Clinton Ave. convince me more than ever every one of our projects stands to have benefits far beyond that primary focus.

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#1 – Safety and Access Enhancements to the South End Connector ~ As submitted 9/17/20 to the City of Albany with updates 2/19/21 ~

Multiuse Path Maintenance – the City of Albany Department of General Services was quite responsive to our recent call for mowing and cleanup of the median/divider on the I-787 access/frontage road portion of the South End Connector. The city needs to ensure that this maintenance be a regular part of DGS’s role in the area. Glass in the cycle track will continue to plague people on bicycles.

Signage, Lighting, and Striping at S. Pearl St.-South End Connector Intersection – There is a need for signage and re-striping of the crosswalks and new lighting at the intersection of S. Pearl Street and the I-787 access/frontage road. This would alert people in cars who are making both left and right turns from S. Pearl onto the access road that bicyclists and pedestrians could be using the crosswalks. These are swooping turns that are, unfortunately, plentiful in the City of Albany. Motor vehicles traveling north on S. Pearl make the turn at excessive speed. It is awkward for bicyclists wanting to continue north on S. Pearl to see cars coming from the south. (That is, those who are not staying on the Connector beyond this intersection). Similarly, people on bicycles heading south on S. Pearl St. but wanting to enter the Connector (i.e., a left turn off S. Pearl St.) have difficulty making a safe turn. Pedestrians also have to look awkwardly to their left before stepping into the crosswalk, when heading north on S. Pearl, or their right, when heading south. We raised this issue at the public meetings hosted by the City.

Attention to this intersection (as well as Bassett St. and Broadway/Quay St.) is integral to making the Connector a community/local street asset and not merely a recreational, end-to-end experience. It is part of recognizing that the “South End” needs access to current and future bicycle facilities in the City of Albany.

Pedestrian And Cyclist Entrance/Exit at Bassett St. – To encourage safe access to the Connector and to promote it as a community resource, there needs to be an entrance/exit connecting Bassett St. and the South End Connector. Addition of a striped area (e.g., a green path) could easily accomplish this purpose with the addition a “no entry for motor vehicles” sign.

Enhanced Motor Vehicle Traffic Control at Broadway/Quay St. – This intersection has been a barrier for people on bicycles and people walking since its original construction. This long-standing problem predates the South End Connector by many years and was the site where a motor vehicle operator struck and killed cyclist Jose Perez.

Ghost Buke for Jose at Broadway and Quay

Looking east toward the Hudson River, people in cars swoop off Broadway at high speeds to the right/south. When they make this right turn onto Broadway, they come up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only current traffic control is a yield sign. This sign is ineffective since it is clear to a driver that there is no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. At an absolute minimum, a stop sign should replace the yield sign. This alteration is a small task that could be done in an hour or two at minimal cost.

For guidance for people on bicycles, bright green bicycle lanes (similar to Colonie St.) would help southbound riders coming from the Corning Riverfront Park to see clearly the correct bike diagonally across the street. Bicyclists cannot see the Connector since it is across the intersection under I-787. Prominent wayfinding signs, a map, and green pavement markings would guide riders from the waterfront to South End Connector without mistakenly riding in the street.

It is also unclear as to how bicyclists are to navigate crossing Broadway when either exiting the Connector or the Corning riverfront trail. When the light is red for vehicles traveling north on Broadway, riders coming off the Connector are scanning to their left and rear. Riders exiting the Corning trail have to scan straight ahead and be far enough out of the intersection to clear traffic turning onto the I-787 ramp, often at high speed. (We have even witnessed the running of red lights.) People on bicycles also have to be alert to motor vehicles coming north on Broadway to continue on Quay St. or Broadway into the city proper. This issue was raised at the public meetings hosted by the City of Albany. Overall, we need more demonstrative traffic control and signage at this intersection.

South End Connector Grand Opening Ride

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#2 – Refresh Lane Markings Clinton Ave.

October 12, 2020 – RE: Lane Markings Clinton Ave.

It’s Easier to Smile on Clinton Ave. When We Can See the Bike Lane Markings

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

This is to draw your attention to the need to refresh the bicycle lane markings on Clinton Ave.

Because of its Ten Broeck-to-Manning bicycle lanes, Clinton Ave. is a favored “up the hill” route for people on bicycles. The street also connects directly to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and, ultimately, to the Skyway. With the advent of the bicycle lane network in the Northern Blvd. area and the hoped for on-street bicycle link between it and the lanes on Clinton Ave., maintenance of the lane markings on the avenue is critical.

In many areas only ghost images remain. This is especially so at cross streets where traffic scrubbing is heavy. People in cars entering Clinton Ave. need the markings to alert them to the presence of bicycles and people.

Over and above all bicycle and motor vehicle issues, Clinton Ave. with its adjacent streets is essentially residential with people coming and going, children playing, and many enjoying time with neighbors and friends on stoops and sidewalks. For those who remember when Clinton Ave. was essentially a 4-lane superhighway, although unmarked as such, the installation of bicycle lanes in 2008 brought traffic calming to the street. Even so, the route still has unending through- and cross-town traffic. Equity alone suggests that the city have a thorough and regular program of refreshing pavement markings to preserve this major side benefit of bicycle lanes – reduced motor vehicle speeds.

On behalf of people on bicycles and the residents and visitors to Clinton Ave., I ask that you arrange for an inspection and timely remediation of the bicycle lanes.

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#3 – Bicycle Lanes on New Scotland Ave. – Manning Blvd. to White Hall Rd.

April 8, 2019 – RE: New Scotland Ave. – Manning Blvd. to White Hall Rd.

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

We in the Albany Bicycle Coalition are pleased to learn of progress on New Scotland Ave. Traffic Calming and appreciate your attention to this major route through the City of Albany. Even though we understand that this project has a long completion horizon, we would like to offer our comments.

  • Speaking not only as cyclists, but also in consideration of all users of New Scotland Ave. – pedestrians, motorists, disabled, and local businesses – we fully endorse a complete streets/road diet approach. We believe two motor vehicle lanes, superior bicycle lanes, and appropriate and supportive signalization and signage is the only proper treatment for this road. As you well know, New Scotland Ave. could be a major bicycle commuter route – any effort to Traffic Calm this street will benefit all.

We recommend the following specifically:

  • That the city install high-quality bicycle lanes for the entire segment. To install other than full-dimension bicycle lanes will lose the traffic calming befit that derives from them (as we know from Madison Avenue Traffic Calming).
  • That any traffic circles/roundabouts be single lane and not “hybrid” in nature.
  • That Creighton Manning refine and adopt the “bump out plan” for the New Scotland/Lenox/Buckingham intersection to decelerate people in cars turning from New Scotland onto Buckingham and from Buckingham onto New Scotland Ave. This will reinforce what we understand to be the planned treatment for Quail St./New Scotland Ave.
  • That between Manning Blvd. and Whitehall Rd. there should be no Shared Lanes for these reasons:
    • Shared Lanes markings, being in the travel lane and subject to damage by traffic, street sweeping, and plowing will disappear in 1.5 to 2 years. Their modest benefit for people on bicycles then will be lost and motor vehicle traffic will return to the (high) road design speed.
    • According to NACTO, shared lanes should support a complete bikeway network.  They are not a facility type and should not be considered a substitute for bicycle lanes or other separation treatments where these types of facilities are otherwise warranted or space permits.  Accordingly, we suggest that as a matter of city policy you never recommend Shared Lanes unless they are part of a planned “bikeway network.”
    • Shared Lanes might have a place on New Scotland Ave. if we look at the entire Whitehall Rd.-Madison Ave. route as a bicycle network. For example, approaching the Albany Medical Center Hospital from the west heading downtown, they might be installed just west of Holland Ave.
    • With the customary “three alternatives approach” used on planning assessments such as New Scotland Ave., an alternative based on Shared Lanes becomes a throwaway. A preferred set of alternative might include, say, Buffered Bicycle Lanes, Protected Bicycle Lanes, or conventional Bicycle Lanes.
  • This last thought leads to our final recommendation that the City of Albany to do a preliminary, non-binding assessment of the entire Whitehall Rd.-Madison Ave. stretch so that whatever decisions are made on the Whitehall-Manning segment will be compatible with an overall objective of making New Scotland Ave. a major bikeway.

Albany Bicycle Coalition looks forward to helping bring this project to fruition.

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#4 – Western Ave. Traffic Calming

July 30, 2020 – RE: It’s Time for Western Ave. Traffic Calming

Western Ave. Begging for Bike Lanes ~ Plenty of Room!

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

As we come off the high of opening the South End Connector, it’s time to revisit an old favorite – connecting the City of Albany and Madison Ave. to Guilderland.

Over the past years, motorists, bus patrons, pedestrians, and cyclists have adapted to Albany’s highly successful Madison Ave. Traffic Calming initiative. The four-lane, crash-prone thoroughfare is now a pleasant urban street on which to drive, walk, bus, cycle, and patronize businesses. The new programmed/on-demand traffic lights and pavement markings allow Madison Ave. pedestrians to cross at every light between Allen and Willet Sts. without having to touch a button. Motorists cruise along at 20-30 mph without fear of being rear ended in the left-turn lane or experiencing unannounced, sudden lane changes. Drivers have become accustomed to cyclists and cyclists have flocked to Madison as a major uptown-downtown connector. It has been a boon to CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare users and to growth of the BikeShare program.

The Town of Guilderland and the NYSDOT refreshed the Western Ave. bicycle lanes running from the city line/University at Albany to Stuyvesant Plaza.

It is time to connect these Madison and Western Ave. projects into a seamless, calmed commuter and recreational route. Western Ave. from UA to Madison has two schools with posted 20 mph zones and many business and residences with exiting and entering traffic. The too-wide double lanes encourage speeding and crazy lane changes threatening everyone’s safety. This is an ideal street for Traffic Calming. This wide street section with essentially no parking has ample room for buffered bicycle lanes without impeding the smooth flow of motor vehicle traffic.

This approach will create a street design that matches the posted speed and gives all users a safe and efficient route from Guilderland to downtown Albany. It will address the inequities of those who are “car less,” those who feel unsafe on crowded buses, and those who value environmentally sound, safe solo exercise.

Mayor Sheehan, you know all of the features and benefits already and that this is an ideal street for Traffic Calming. The street’s pavement is in pretty good shape so this is an easy lift – no big bucks for utilities, curb cuts, and so on. In its 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, the City of Albany identified Western Ave. as one of its 18 “major bikeways” and will likely so re-designate it in the new Albany Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. We seem to be on the cusp of a “bicycle boom” brought about by the COVID-19 conditions (Times Union 5/8/20; New York Times 6/13, 15, 19 and 25/20; Adventure Cyclist 8/20). “We are selling bikes faster than we can assemble them out of the boxes … I can’t tell you how crazy it is,” stated the Freeman Bridge Sports service manager.

The City of Albany will have to do this job someday. Why not now?

I ask your support in raising this project to the “can do.” We look forward to working with you and staff to bring it about.

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#5 – Rapp Rd. and the Albany-Colonie Connector

October 2, 2018 – RE: Rapp Rd. and the Albany-Colonie Connector –

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

We are trying to promote what we have termed the “Albany-Colonie Connector.” The route connects a series of presently independent elements to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian travel from the City of Albany through the University at Albany to the Six-Mile Trail and thence along Rapp Rd. through the Village of Colonie and to the Shaker Multiuse Path, and shortly thereafter to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail/Empire State Trail at Lions Park. We are hopeful for your interest and support.

Enclosed please find “Safe Bike Travel Between Colonie and UAlbany/Western Avenue:  Rapp Road the Weak Link.” As all in the Capital District know, Central Avenue is notoriously dangerous for non-motorists and has been the focus of many articles, studies, and traffic design efforts. A bicycle ride between Albany and Colonie along busy Central Avenue is not for the faint of heart. The Central Avenue interchange with the Northway is particularly hazardous for cyclists.   

As described in this document, the Albany Bicycle Coalition has identified a much safer existing alternative route from Central Avenue at Jupiter Avenue to the University at Albany’s Purple Path, and Western Avenue (with its newly re-installed bicycle lanes in Guilderland). The route encompasses several multiuse paths and wide bicycle-friendly roads. The biggest barrier to the proposed route is the sad state of a 0.6-mile segment of Rapp Road. It is ripe for redesign and repaving.Hon. Kathy

We trust that you will agree that this route provides a safe and direct connection using existing (or slightly modified) facilities. With the notable exception of Rapp Rd., we are asking merely for “tweaks” to the present components of the route. That is, we are proposing use of facilities we already have and that are suitable for the intended use. This is not a huge capital expenditure proposal. As the Washington Ave. Corridor project develops, it too will play an important role.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition respectfully requests that you review the attached booklet and consider this modest proposal to make bicycle friendly improvements to this short section of Rapp Road a part of a Rapp Road repaving project.  

Mayor Sheehan, we ask that you consider supporting this campaign by working with us to identify what can be done and how we might make it happen.

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#6 – Close the Lake Road in Washington Park

August 26, 2016 – RE: Close the Road – Washington Park

Dear Mayor Sheehan:

Why not just keep the Washington Park road closed?

No Cars in Sight!

During the “big dig” on Lake Ave., the one-way road along the south side of the lake in Washington Park has been closed to motor vehicle traffic. Since no apparent disaster has occurred because of this closure, may I suggest that it be made permanent?

The residents (and their attendants) of The Royce on the Park (former B’Nai B’Rith Parkview Apartments) as well joggers, walkers, and cyclists regularly use this path into and out of the park. Fir many of them, I would guess that this is a treasured experience of the day. The road could be, of course, open to emergency vehicles and for major park events such as “Holiday Lights.” In the many times I have been on this road, I’ve never seen any constructive use except as a pass through for people in cars and for a few who enjoy parking by the lake.

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Filed under Albany Riverfront Park, Albany-Bike/Ped Master Plan, Albany-Colonie Connector, Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan, City Review, Road Diet - Traffic Calming, South End Bikeway Connector, Support the Cause, Washington Ave., Western Ave.

Changes to South End Connector – City of Albany

Following substantial completion of the South End Connector, the Albany Bicycle Coalition detected a number of issues needing resolution. We had identified some of these even before design and construction began on the Connector. On 9/17/20, we asked the city to explore how we might get these projects on the city’s “to do” list for 2020-21.

Key members of the Albany Bicycle Coalition have had some considerable experience with the new South End Connector and many years of observation and riding in the S. Pearl St./Connector area. We believe the city should make several modifications to realize the full potential of this new asset. We detail these below. They include maintenance, safety issues, signage/lighting/striping, a new interchange, and traffic control.

Our major concerns are safety issues related to the Broadway/Quay St. and the S. Pearl St.-South End Connector junction. The Broadway/Quay St. issue derives from the original “all cars-all the time” poor design of this interchange. In fact, it was here that a SUV ran down and killed 60-year-old cyclist Jose Perez on August 3, 2006.

One of the major impetuses for the very conception of the South End Connector was the motor vehicle death of a young lad on S. Pearl St.

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Multiuse Path Maintenance – the City of Albany Department of General Services was quite responsive to our recent (September) call for mowing and cleanup of the median/divider on the I-787 access/frontage road portion of the South End Connector. The city needs to ensure that this maintenance be a regular part of DGS’s role in the area. Glass in the cycle track will continue to plague people on bicycles.

Signage, Lighting, and Striping at S. Pearl St.-South End Connector Intersection – There is a need for signage and re-striping of the crosswalks and possibly new lighting at the intersection of S. Pearl Street and the I-787 access/frontage road. This would alert people in cars who are making both left and right turns from S. Pearl onto the access road that bicyclists and pedestrians could be using the crosswalks. These are swooping turns that are, unfortunately, plentiful in the City of Albany. Motor vehicles traveling north on S. Pearl make the turn at excessive speed. It is awkward for bicyclists wanting to continue north on S. Pearl to see cars coming from the south. (That is, those who are not staying on the Connector beyond this intersection). Similarly, people on bicycles heading south on S. Pearl St. but wanting to enter the Connector going north (i.e., a left turn off S. Pearl St.) have difficulty making a safe turn. Pedestrians also have to look awkwardly to their left before stepping into the crosswalk.

Attention to this intersection (as well as Bassett St. and Broadway/Quay St.) is integral to making the Connector a community/local street asset and not merely a recreational, end-to-end experience. It is part of recognizing that the “South End” needs access to current and future bicycle facilities in the City of Albany.

Pedestrian And Cyclist Entrance/Exit at Bassett St. – To encourage safe access to the Connector and to promote it as a community resource, there needs to be an entrance/exit connecting Bassett St. and the South End Connector. The striped area could be modified easily for this purpose with only the addition of some striping (e.g., a green path) and a “no entry for motor vehicles” sign.

Enhanced Motor Vehicle Traffic Control at Broadway/Quay St. – This intersection has been a barrier for people on bicycles and people walking since its original construction. This long-standing problem predates the South End Connector by many years and was the site where a motor vehicle struck and killed cyclist Jose Perez.

Looking east toward the Hudson River, people in cars swoop off Broadway at high speeds to the right/south. When they make this right turn onto Broadway, they come up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only traffic control is a yield sign. This sign is ineffective since it is clear to a driver that there to no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. At an absolute minimum, a stop sign should replace the yield sign. This alteration is a small task that could be done in an hour or two at minimal cost.

What is not so clear is that the South End Connector channels people on bicycles directly to a cross walk which is somewhat hidden from people in cars. While riders are scanning to their left and rear, they also have to be alert to motor vehicles coming north on Broadway to continue on Quay St. or Broadway into the city proper. Here we need more demonstrative traffic control.

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Filed under Activisim, Equity, safety, South End Bike Link, South End Bikeway Connector

South End Connector – Almost Done

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

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

After many years of work, the South End Connector 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 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 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 – 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 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 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? (Officially it’s “South End Connector“)

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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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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South End Bikeway Connector Rumbles Along – Cont’d (12/26/19)

Looking south to work-in-progress connecting the trailhead/parking to the cycle track on S. Pearl St. (The traffic light is at Old S. Pearl St.)

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The new CDTA pickup at the north end of the Pearl St. segment of the cycle track (just visible behind the booth).  Ezra Prentiss homes at the far right.

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Those big, stinking, noisy, fuming trucks still very much part of the daily scene – and notably traveling above the speed limit.

The end of the cycle track on the north end of Frontage Rd. at Church St./Vine St. (Tank bombs to the left.)

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