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Threading the Bicycling Needle on Raymond Avenue

The NYS DOT’s original planning documents said that roundabouts / rotaries weren’t optimal for pedestrians or bicyclists or large trucks, but, because DOT likes rotaries, that’s what they built on Raymond Avenue. However, they didn’t relocate the drainage lines under the road and left some catch boxes in awkward spots.

This Google Street View image from a few years ago shows the College Avenue intersection from northbound Raymond Avenue, with the catch box in the lane:

Google Street View - Raymond northbound at College

Google Street View – Raymond northbound at College

Raymond is basically the only bicycle route into Arlington from the south and has “shared roadway” signs, but the design flat-out doesn’t work for bikes and the implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

Here’s what it looks like from the bike:

MAH00138-2014-09-28-095

MAH00138-2014-09-28-095

Note the deteriorated asphalt and longitudinal cracks near the white fog line next to the curb. That forces bike traffic another few feet into the deliberately narrowed traffic lane at the entrance to the intersection.

Mary’s about as far to the right as practicable (that’s a legal term):

MAH00138-2014-09-28-155

MAH00138-2014-09-28-155

I’m angling over from the middle of the lane, because, unless I take the lane, motorists will attempt to pass us in the rotary entrances. The asphalt on the far side of the box has subsided several inches into a tooth-rattling drop, you can see the crevice adjacent to the right side of the box, and I know better than to cross steel grates while turning.

Notice that the Google view shows four bollards marking what DOT charmingly calls the “pedestrian refuge” in the median, but only two appear in my pictures. NYS DOT recently removed half the bollards from each refuge and relocated the remainder, apparently to reduce the number of street furniture targets. Early on, they were losing one bollard per intersection per year, but that’s slowed down now that they’ve stopped replacing smashed hardware.

It was never clear to me why putting nonreflective black bollards a foot or two from the traffic lane made any sense, but that’s how it was done. Most of the relocated bollards stand close to the center of the median, so maybe it didn’t make any sense.

Anyhow, bikes can’t stay too far to the right after the box, because the asphalt has crumbled away in furrows around Yet Another Crappy Patch:

MAH00138-2014-09-28-184

MAH00138-2014-09-28-184

That’s pretty much the state of the traffic engineering art around here. A while back, the NYS DOT engineer in charge of the project assured me it’s all built in compliance with the relevant standards.

It’s worth noting that Mary’s on the Dutchess County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, so we volunteered to count cyclists and pedestrians on Raymond a few months ago. When I say that we’re essentially the only cyclists riding Raymond Avenue, we have the numbers to back it up. Everybody else rides on the sidewalks, despite that being of questionable legality and dubious for pedestrian safety, because, well, you’d be crazy to ride in the shared roadway.

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