According to the map on page 116 of the “Walk Bike Dutchess” Planning Document, Spackenkill Road has a “Paved Shoulder Width” that’s “Greater than four feet”, but with an asterisk: “Paved width based on available data. May not reflect usable width.” Here’s what “usable width” looks like in actual practice.
I’m riding eastbound on Spackenkill Road, just past the signal at Croft Road. The shoulder has actually been at least 4 ft wide up to this point, but after Flower Hill Rd the paved surface narrows dramatically:
The right half of the shoulder is a drainage swale that wasn’t repaved along with the rest of the surface; the drain grates just add to the hazard.
This grate features a “bike safe” hex grid. What you can’t see is how far it’s recessed into the asphalt.
Did you notice the manhole cover dead ahead, extending from the fog line across the entire paved part? I did, which is why I’m moving into the travel lane: it’s recessed a few inches into the pavement.
The swale deepens and becomes a patch palimpsest closer to the signal at Wilbur Blvd:
Another manhole cover, recessed on the left and protruding on the right, with a rubble-filled swale requiring riders to move into the traffic lane:
The residual paint on the cover suggests the fog line moved a foot leftward, so the shoulder is slightly wider than it was before the repaving. At this point, the shoulder is a bit over a foot wide, if you ignore the manhole cover and don’t mind riding right up to the edge of the dropoff into the swale.
Just as an aside, why is it when motorists blow a red light, it’s perfectly normal, but when bicyclists do the same thing, they’re maniacs deserving instant death?
That’s why I stop at traffic signals and wait a few seconds before starting.
The shoulder gets wider toward Van Duzier, again if you ignore a recessed grate that’s so deep vehicles scratch the far side as they bottom out:
In Dutchess County, you get used to bicycling on whatever pavement you get. I can reliably ride a ledge half a foot wide, but we don’t expect drivers to navigate tiny slices of pavement.
Closing in on Hagan Drive, there’s a slightly concave wheel-trapping grate turned at a jaunty angle, smack in the middle of what surely counts as “more than four feet” of shoulder:
That one’s easy, although if you didn’t like riding close to traffic, you’d be in that gravel patch.
Back in the day, I commuted by bike to IBM along Spackenkill Road. It was in much worse condition with terrible shoulders, so the recent repaving isn’t all that bad. Oddly, back then it was an Official Bike Route with Official Signs; now that it’s improved, it’s no longer marked. Perhaps when NYSDOT gained control of the road, they decided it didn’t meet contemporary bike route standards?
On the whole, Spackenkill is much better than the usual Dutchess County fare.
Should you think that shoulder width isn’t a problem, then you should also have no problem with this deal: send me your paychecks and I will write you checks for anywhere from -25% to +150% of the nominal amount, randomly weighted by the sampled deviation of the shoulder width from four feet along both sides of Spackenkill Road. What say?
It’s not as though a cop will ask you about your average speed when you’re pulled over for speeding: it’s your maximum speed that matters. For bicyclists, it’s the minimum shoulder width and minimum paving standard.
A map with the route (clicky for more dots):
There’s a movie showing the complete ride from IBM Road to Red Oaks Mill.