Sharing The Road on Raymond Avenue: Part 1

The “Share the Road” sign tells you how NYSDOT intended that Raymond Avenue should work:


Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 - Vassar Main Entrance - 0

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 – Vassar Main Entrance – 0

I’m just about to enter the traffic circle /rotary / roundabout in front of the Vassar College main entrance:

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 - Vassar Main Entrance - 1a

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 – Vassar Main Entrance – 1a

The catch basin recess just in front of the car is 150 feet from the pedestrian zebra stripe at the rotary entrance. I’m pedaling at about 18 mph = 25 ft/s, my usual speed on that section, so the rotary is six seconds away.

Despite the cobbled strip adjacent to the parked car, I’m riding well within the door strike zone, which is pretty much where cyclists must ride on Raymond in order to not impede traffic flow. I was about to signal before taking the lane into the rotary, but a glance in the mirror (copied by the Fly6 aft camera) shows I’m too late:

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 - Vassar Main Entrance - 1b

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 – Vassar Main Entrance – 1b

As always, motorists plan on squeezing past me and getting through the rotary before I arrive, presumably figuring that I can share the road with them both into and through the rotary. That doesn’t take into account the fact that vehicles must speed up to pass me at more than 18 mph, slow down before the rotary entrance, then veer right around the central island. Given, say, 300 feet, that’s 12 seconds, which isn’t really all that long.

Under ordinary circumstances, I can pass through the rotary by backing off on the pedaling and coasting, without slowing very much at all, occupying the entire lane. If there’s oncoming traffic, then I plan to stop at the Yield sign, an event which often takes motorists by surprise.

Three seconds later, with the entrance barely two car lengths ahead, we’re both braking hard:

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 - Vassar Main Entrance - 2

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 – Vassar Main Entrance – 2

The rotary entrance lane squeeze just ahead slows motor vehicles and channels them in the proper direction around the central island, a bike-unsafe design that mashes cyclists right up against the side of improperly passing vehicles.

After another four seconds, we’re both almost stopped, which is a Very Good Thing for me, because I can’t tell if they’re going straight or, hey, about to turn right into the Vassar Main Gate without the formality of signaling:

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 - Vassar Main Entrance - 3

Raymond Ave 2015-06-27 – Vassar Main Entrance – 3


You can’t hear me shouting “GO! GO! GO!” to encourage them to get the hell out of the rotary. For sure, I am not going to pass them on the right.

As it turned out, the driver continued straight through the rotary, then parked close to the Juliet, along with the car following them, which was a few feet behind me in the last picture. I decided that stopping by the driver’s window and asking if he / she / it understood what just happened would not be a productive use of anyone’s time.

Speaking of time, if seven seconds sounds ample for evasive maneuvering, bring your bike over and let’s do some riding.

There’s nothing like a shot of adrenaline to perk up one’s pedaling…

  1. #1 by smellsofbikes on 2015-07-06 - 11:51

    Some day we will have autonomous cars, and bicycling will be so much easier and safer.

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-07-06 - 13:12

      I think that’s probably true, although I also have the uneasy feeling that some cyclists will deliberately test how well the collision avoidance code handles sudden swerves…

  2. #3 by Red County Pete on 2015-07-06 - 14:56

    will deliberately test

    I’ve been re-reading Niven and Pournelle, and the tagline from Oath of Fealty comes to mind: “Think of it as evolution in action.”

    I’ve run across too many drivers who act as if they’re the only ones on the road. Actually, they shop like that, too. [sigh] (Hmm, an air horn on a shopping cart. Nah..)

    • #4 by Red County Pete on 2015-07-06 - 15:00

      Was it me, or did WordPress mangle the blockquote tag?

      • #5 by Ed on 2015-07-06 - 15:35

        The remnants had escaped angle-bracket symbols, so the Comment Editor may have done the same thing the Post Editor does (used to do?) to my code snippets: completely wreck the perfectly valid input.

        I fixed the blockquote mess, but, should it happen again, we’ll know what not to do…

  3. #6 by david on 2015-07-07 - 01:42

    Time to start work on that 3D-printed caltrop dispenser…

    • #7 by Ed on 2015-07-07 - 08:48

      And 3D printed caltrops to load it:
      Caltrop Core

      Those things look scary, even in the picture…

  4. #8 by Frans on 2015-07-12 - 08:09

    This is only tangentially related, but I figured you might appreciate a perspective on cycling in London. I’ve never been there myself.

    • #9 by Frans on 2015-07-12 - 08:14

      By the way, here is what such a squeeze design might look like in the Netherlands.

      • #10 by Ed on 2015-07-12 - 10:02

        The pavement seems so … flat …

        • #11 by Frans on 2015-07-14 - 12:47

          Flat? Anyhow, I don’t know how typical that particular construction is, but it’s the only one the physical location of which I could remember.

          • #12 by Ed on 2015-07-14 - 13:29

            The pavement doesn’t have any lumpy patches or sunken drain grates or any of the usual challenges: it’s so flat!

            • #13 by Frans on 2015-07-15 - 14:47

              The word is “normal”. :P I’ve seen what you describe in Eastern Europe and the USA though. But I imagine the harsher winters can’t be good for the asphalt. Then again, it’s not like the winters in e.g. southern Germany and Austria are particularly soft either.

    • #14 by Ed on 2015-07-12 - 10:00

      As the man says “Token effort at best, intentionally homicidal by the road ‘designers’ on average, entirely neglected and absent at worst”

      That’s true here, minus the “token effort” part…

  1. Sharing The Road on Raymond Avenue: Part 2 | The Smell of Molten Projects in the Morning
  2. Sharing the Road on Raymond Avenue: Part 3 | The Smell of Molten Projects in the Morning