Sharing the Road on Raymond Avenue: Zero Clearance

We’re bicycling on Collegeview Avenue, approaching the eastern traffic circle (of three) along Raymond Avenue. I’m in the lead, hauling a trailer with the week’s groceries:

Zero Clearance - Ed Front - 2021-09-07 - 0497
Zero Clearance – Ed Front – 2021-09-07 – 0497

The four digit frame numbers tick along at 60 fps for my helmet camera and 30 fps for the rear cameras.

Note the “splitter” (a.k.a. “pedestrian refuge”) on the left, intended to separate Collegeview’s incoming and outgoing traffic. It formerly had one non-reflective black bollard on each side of the ladder crosswalk, but errant drivers destroyed so many bollards along Raymond that they’re now WONTFIX remnants. The flush concrete disk in the lower left of this picture will become relevant in a few seconds of real time:

Zero Clearance - Ed Front - 2021-09-07 - 0593
Zero Clearance – Ed Front – 2021-09-07 – 0593

Collegeview has the same deteriorating pavement as found along Raymond Avenue, so we must maneuver beside the potholes:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 0797
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 0797

The potholes make maintaining a safe-ish distance from the parked cars somewhat difficult:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1140
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1140

All of us are slowing to stop at the traffic circle, with Mary behind the car that will eventually stop beside me:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1522
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1522

Mary could see the car behind her in her helmet mirror, but she’s slowing to stall speed with no time for sightseeing and no room for maneuvering. The view from the camera on the seat frame behind her left shoulder:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 0957
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 0957

Two seconds later:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1078
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1078

One second:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1110
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1110

Two more seconds:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1182
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1182

Mary has stopped, as shown by the parked car’s unchanging position in the frame over on the left in the next images. The driver, however, continues creeping slowly forward; there can be no doubt she sees Mary at this distance.

After three more seconds:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1270
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1270

One second later, the front wheel is exactly at Mary’s left foot:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1308
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1308

The same events, viewed from the camera on my bike, start less than one second from the 1522 image above. I’m stopped, while the driver next to me continues to roll forward.

Mary is extending her left leg in preparation for a complete stop, at about the same time as the 1078 image:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1542
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1542

Three seconds later her toe touches the pavement, while both she and the driver continue moving forward very slowly:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1634
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1634

Five seconds later, she is stopped with her foot firmly planted:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1773
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1773

And the driver continues moving:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1333
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1333

Another five seconds and the sidewall bulge of the car’s radial tire is pressing her foot to the pavement:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1934
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1934

A closer look:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1946 detail
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1946 detail

She yanks her foot away:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 1953
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 1953

While the driver continues to creep forward:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1397
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1397

Sometimes, it’s the only way to get some attention:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 2026
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 2026

Mary is now off-balance, leaning on the car door, explaining what just happened:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 2152
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 2152

Mary regains her balance as the driver backs cautiously away:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1546
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1546

Were the bollard still atop that sad concrete foundation, the driver might not have driven up on the splitter to get around Mary, if only to avoid scuffing a fender:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 2479
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 2479

Compare this clearance with what you saw earlier in the 0957 image:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1627
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1627

Mary can’t get far enough away, but this must suffice:

Zero Clearance - Ed Rear - 2021-09-07 - 2761
Zero Clearance – Ed Rear – 2021-09-07 – 2761

Now the driver can pass her again with more clearance:

Zero Clearance - Mary - 2021-09-07 - 1891
Zero Clearance – Mary – 2021-09-07 – 1891

I pointed to the car, then to the circle, and shouted “GO!” because neither of us wanted to be in front of that particular driver:

Zero Clearance - Ed Front - 2021-09-07 - 2540
Zero Clearance – Ed Front – 2021-09-07 – 2540

We’ll surely meet her again, ideally with more clearance.

Henceforth, we will take the middle of the lane into splitters, as cyclists should do on a “shared” roadway. I was assured by the DOT engineer who designed Raymond Avenue that it’s all “standards compliant”, so this is what NYS DOT regards as “making their highway systems safe and functional for all users”.

Having amateur radio HTs on the bikes lets us talk with each other in real time, which is a definite asset when stuff like this happens.

Not to mention having cameras here, there, and everywhere.

Elapsed time from the first to the last picture: 33 s.

For the record: blue Ford (although the ersatz fender vents seem reminiscent of an old Buick), license ANC-4273.

6 thoughts on “Sharing the Road on Raymond Avenue: Zero Clearance

  1. Similar experiences led me to imagine fashioning a horizontal flagpole projecting a foot from the left side of the bicycle. The flagpole would support an American flag. The outboard end of the flagpole is a carbide-tipped scribe. Careless or aggressive motorists will scratch their own paint. The flagpole would be secured to the bike with a flexible mount so, if contact is made, the pole will deflect rather than break.

  2. Yet another reason why there should be periodic random driving test requirements. There are way too many people with a driver’s license that means little to anything.

    1. I can imagine many causes, from “distracted driving” to “teaching Mary a lesson”, but I doubt there’s any way to preemptively weed out such drivers.

      We have long since given up any expectation NYSDOT will pay more attention to bicycle-friendly (heck, even bicycle-aware) design.

    1. Yeah, except bicyclists already get killed with impunity, so escalation won’t get you to a better place.

      I favor reducing the number of car parking slots at all DOT facilities by 10% per year, but that’s just me.

Spam comments get trashed, so don't bother. Comment moderation may cause a delay.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s