Bicycle-Hostile Design: Raymond Avenue

I generally ride somewhat further into the travel lane than some folks would prefer, but I have good reason for that. Here’s how bicycling along Raymond Avenue at 14 mph = 20 ft/s on a pleasant summer morning works out…

T = 0.000 — Notice anything out of the ordinary?

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0018

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0018

T = 1.000 — Me, neither:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0078

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0078

T = 1.500 — Ah!

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0108

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0108

T = 2.000 — I’m flinching into the right turn required for a sharp left turn:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0138

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0138

Less than half a second reaction time: pretty good, sez me.

T = 2.833 — End of the flinch:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0183

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0183

T = 3.000 — Now I can lean and turn left:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0198

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0198

T = 3.267 — This better be far enough left:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0214

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0214

T = 3.333 — The door isn’t moving:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0218

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0218

T = 3.567 — So I’ll live to ride another day:

Raymond Ave - Door Near Miss - 2016-08-03 - 0232

Raymond Ave – Door Near Miss – 2016-08-03 – 0232

I carry a spectacular scar from slashing my arm on a frameless car window, back in my college days: the driver flipped the door open as I passed his gas cap at a good clip. The collision wrecked the window, the door, and my bike, but didn’t break my arm, sever any nerves, or cut any arteries. I did discover human fatty tissue, neatly scooped from under my arm onto the window, is yellowish, which wasn’t something I needed to know.

Searching for Raymond Avenue will bring up other examples of bicycle-hostile features along this stretch of NYSDOT’s trendy, traffic-calmed design…

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  1. #1 by Ken Davidson on 2016-08-26 - 08:57

    I actually watched a car in the lane to my right drive into and destroy a just-opened driver door while navigating the streets of downtown Hartford. Why don’t these idiots glance in the mirror to make sure it’s clear before opening their door? I guess the world would be a much duller world without them…

    • #2 by Ed on 2016-08-27 - 12:48

      Everybody gets to make a mistake once in a while; it’s only luck that theirs and mine don’t match up!

  2. #3 by Jason Doege on 2016-08-26 - 10:10

    Cue characterization of BMW drivers…

    • #4 by Ed on 2016-08-27 - 12:48

      Oh, we haven’t even started yet…

  3. #5 by Red County Pete on 2016-08-27 - 16:24

    Without that median strip, there would almost be enough room to ride safely out of door space. Why do I get the idea that making a narrow lane was somebody’s “great idea”?

    We’re lucky; very few German vehicles in our county, so BMWs aren’t quite the menace. (‘Sides, when the CCW take rate is high, you see a strong disincentive for road rage and misbehavior.) Most local crazies drive 4 x 4s, though since this is the season for Burning Man, we get some odd vehicles coming through. The Kroger-owned Fred Meyer grocery/department store gets a lot of the Burners, and they’re, er, interesting. I didn’t know that Pabst Blue Ribbon was a favorite, but the PBR stock is as big as the water stash right now.

    • #6 by Ed on 2016-08-27 - 19:20

      NYSDOT replaced four narrow-ish lanes with two narrow-ish lanes, added the median, and used small traffic circles instead of signals. Back in the day, cyclists could take the entire right-hand lane, well away from the doors, and traffic could pass unobstructed in the left lane; the NYSDOT engineer admits the current design isn’t suited for more than one bike at a time. Delivery trucks could double-park in the right lane and not stop traffic; now semis sprawl atop the median and don’t quite block traffic in both directions.

      Watching fire engines and semitrailers maneuver through those traffic circles is painful.

      When I get to be God Emperor, I plan to reduce NYSDOT’s parking lot area by 10% each year…

  4. #7 by Nick Normal on 2016-09-02 - 13:47

    Tip: take the entire lane.

    • #8 by Ed on 2016-09-02 - 13:58

      We generally ride far enough from the door strike zone to push cars & trucks up on the median to pass us: https://softsolder.com/2015/08/04/sharing-the-road-on-raymond-avenue-part-3/. Some drivers don’t like that, particularly when we’re hauling groceries at less than a flat-out sprint.

      Nearly all other cyclists ride the sidewalks and pretend to be pedestrians at crosswalks…

      • #9 by Nick Normal on 2016-09-06 - 22:10

        I can’t stand sidewalk riders – not even for the pedestrian bother but because the street pavement is just such a smoother ride.

        All good blogs – keep up the great work!

        • #10 by Ed on 2016-09-07 - 08:27

          The sidewalks on Raymond were shoehorned into the space remaining, with jogs around catch basins, trees, and other impedimenta; they’re barely suited for walking, let alone bike riding. Even NYSDOT says it’s a bad idea, although that doesn’t seem to affect their roadway designs in the least.

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