NY Bike Route 9 Signage Overgrowth

The North Residency of NYS DOT Region 8 normally does a pretty good job of clearing roadside brush, but they’re apparently daunted by the prospect of trimming shrubbery and hedges encroaching on the right of way:

Rt 376 at Red Oaks Mill - Bike Route vs ped facilitie
Rt 376 at Red Oaks Mill – Bike Route vs ped facilitie

Truck traffic crops the overhanging branches, but the lower greenery forces pedestrians (who have nowhere else to walk) into the middle of the lane. A DOT staffer once said they didn’t design sidewalks into a project unless a clear path showed in the grass along a road.

The Red Oaks Mill intersection has no pedestrian facilities at all, although nowadays we see more walkers than ever before, and bicyclists no longer expect anything other than Bike Route markers.

This is well beyond the capability of my puny pruner

Rt 376 at Zack’s Way: Almost a Right Hook

I’m approaching Zack’s Way at about 20 mph when a truck appears to my left:

Rt 376 at Zacks Way - Right Hook Setup - 2021-06-04
Rt 376 at Zacks Way – Right Hook Setup – 2021-06-04

I cannot see the turn signals, but I’ve been around this block several times.

This time, however, what I know (and the driver apparently doesn’t) is that Zack’s Way has been closed for two days while a film crew does something to create The White House Plumbers along that stretch of road, with barricades and City of Poughkeepsie police cars across the entrance to prevent bystanders from wandering in.

At least I’ll have witnesses …

NYS DOT installed a pair of Variable Message Signs showing ZACK'S WAY | CLOSED | Thursday & Friday on either side of the intersection:

Rt 376 at Zacks Way - Closure VMS - 2021-06-04
Rt 376 at Zacks Way – Closure VMS – 2021-06-04

Fortunately, the driver figured it out before our paths crossed:

Rt 376 at Zacks Way - Right Hook Miss - 2021-06-04
Rt 376 at Zacks Way – Right Hook Miss – 2021-06-04

But, hey, those signs are easy to overlook, too …

I have typed “Zach’s Way”, rather than the correct “Zack’s Way”, on several posts.

Rt 376 Knotweed

Last June, NYS DOT surprised us by clearing the Japanese Knotweed along Rt 376 just north of Maloney, then applying enough defoliant to keep it knocked back this Spring:

Rt 376 Knotweed - defoliation near Maloney - 2021-05-23
Rt 376 Knotweed – defoliation near Maloney – 2021-05-23

A year earlier, they clearcut the overgrowth beyond the guide rail from Red Oaks Mill southward, but without defoliant, and the Knotweed is off to a good start:

Rt 376 Knotweed - Knotweed growth - 2021-05-23
Rt 376 Knotweed – Knotweed growth – 2021-05-23

I’ll do my part, inadequate though my pruners may be:

Rt 376 Knotweed - Knotweed trimming - 2021-05-23
Rt 376 Knotweed – Knotweed trimming – 2021-05-23

I got most of the growth in front of the guide rail extending across the shoulder, but must wait for another weekend morning to hack back the main stems.

Unfortunately, Knotweed control requires nearly continuous clearcutting and defoliation to prevent new growth.

NYS DOT Motivation: Death

We have just started rolling from Overocker Road and the traffic signal on Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 (on the far left) has just turned green for the single car on the sensor loop:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 0 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 0 s

Much to our surprise, 17 s later the signal is still green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 17 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 17 s

As usual, the unmarked sensor loop doesn’t detect bicycles and the control doesn’t take our clearing time into account, so the signal turns yellow 5 s later (after 22 s from turning green) while we’re still in the intersection:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 22 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 sBurnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 s

After another 6 s, though, we’re through the intersection and lined up on the right side of Rt 55, just as the Rt 55 signal turns green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 28 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 28 s

Note that the Burnett Blvd signal remained green for 22 s, much longer than in bygone years, and the green-to-green time is now 28 s. We got through the intersection without any difficulty, although the green-to-red clearance time remains scanty.

Those of long memory may recall my writeup of the timing in early November last year. That was with many cars triggering the sensor loops, so the timings from a trip last July with a single truck-and-trailer tripping the sensor may be more relevant. Or take your pick from other timings done during the last six years; there’s plenty of data to show something’s new and different.

Mary recently discovered a reason why NYS DOT may have suddenly changed the signal timing at the Burnett intersection after all those years:

During the incident, a black Nissan Titan, driven by a 51-year-old male resident of Lagrangeville, collided with a bicycle, ridden by a 58-year-old male resident of Poughkeepsie, in the area of the crosswalk on the southeast portion of the intersection, said the Town of Poughkeepsie Police.

The bicyclist sustained serious injuries and was transported to MidHudson Regional Hospital.

https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/putnam/police-fire/bicyclist-seriously-injured-after-crash-with-vehicle-in-area/798453/

The crosswalk mentioned in the article appears in the last picture.

The cyclist died of his injuries shortly after that article went live.

Mary knew him. He was one of the gardeners near her plot in the Vassar Community Garden who lived in the apartments a few hundred yards from that intersection, didn’t own a car, and, for years, rode through that intersection to the grocery store at the far end of Burnett Blvd (across another of DOT’s intersections). Everyone knew him as a nice, considerate guy.

When DOT tells you “Clearance times are determined based on speed, intersection dimensions, grade, and reaction time and cannot be adjusted” they don’t add “Because not enough people have died to get our attention.”

Death is the only thing that will convince NYS DOT’s engineers to change the signal timing at an intersection.

As far as I can tell, all of the other intersections along our usual routes still have the same inadequate clearance times. Evidently, the bicyclist death toll isn’t high enough to get their attention and evidence here doesn’t matter there, because motor vehicle traffic cannot be delayed, even for a few seconds, merely to protect the most vulnerable “users” of their facilities.

We’ve been bicycling all our adult lives and haven’t been killed yet, despite NYS DOT’s complete lack of attention. Our experiences justify my cynicism and bitterness.

I eventually figured out why no NYS DOT staffer will accompany me on bike trips along their “safe for all users” roads. If they did, they’d be unable to deny knowing how hazardous their engineering designs & maintenance practices are in real life, should the question come up in a court of law.

If you think that’s not the case, then let’s go riding together …

Road design, build quality, and attention to details matter, even though drivers and, yes, cyclists share some of the blame.

Monthly Science: Burnett Signal Timing

The NYS DOT has been improving the pedestrian crossings at the Burnett – Rt 55 intersection. I expect this will be a bullet item in their Complete Streets compliance document, with favorable job reviews for all parties. The situation for bicyclists using the intersection, which provides the only access from Poughkeepsie to the Dutchess Rail Trail, hasn’t changed in the slightest. No signal timing adjustments, no bike-capable sensor loops, no lane markings, no shoulders, no nothing.

Here’s what NYS DOT’s Complete Streets program looks like from our perspective, with the four-digit frame numbers ticking along at 60 frame/sec.

We’re waiting on Overocker Rd for Burnett traffic to clear enough to cross three lanes from a cold start:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 0006
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 0006

That building over there across Burnett is the NYS DOT Region 8 Headquarters, so we’re not in the hinterlands where nobody ever goes.

We’re rolling:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 0258
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 0258

The Burnett signals just turned green, although the cars haven’t started moving yet, and we’re accelerating out of Overocker:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 0463
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 0463

About 1.5 seconds later, the vehicles have started moving and we’re lining up for the left side of the right-hand lane:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 0752
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 0752

There’s no traffic behind us, so we can ride a little more to the right than we usually do, in the hopes of triggering the signal’s unmarked sensor loop:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1178
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1178

We didn’t expect anything different:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1333
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1333

We’re rolling at about 12 mph and it’s unreasonable to expect us to jam to a stop whenever the signal turns yellow. Oh, did you notice the truck parked in the sidewalk over on the left?

As usual, 4.3 seconds later, the Burnett signals turn red, so we’re now riding in the “intersection clearing” delay:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1593
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1593

Two seconds later, the Rt 55 signals turn green:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1711
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1711

Did you notice all three eastbound lanes of Rt 55 (on our right) were occupied? That means a driver can’t come zipping through without stopping at the green light in their direction.

One second later, we’re still proceeding through the intersection, clearing the lethally smooth manhole cover by a few inches, and approaching the far side:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1771
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1771

Here’s what the intersection looks like behind me:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - rear 1
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – rear 1

Another second goes by and we’re pretty much into the far right lane , with the westbound traffic beginning to move:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1831
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1831

The pedestrian crossing ladder has fresh new paint. They milled off the old paint while reconstructing the crossing, so the scarred asphalt will deteriorate into potholes after a few freeze-thaw cycles. Not their problem, it seems.

Although it’s been three seconds since Rt 55 got a green signal, the eastbound drivers remain stunned by our presence:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - rear 2
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – rear 2

After another second, we’re almost where we need to be:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1891
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1891

There’s a new concrete sidewalk on the right, with a wheelchair-accessible signal button I can now hit with my elbow when we’re headed in the other direction. It’s worth noting there is no way to reach Overocker by bicycle, other than riding the sidewalk; there’s only one “complete” direction for vehicular cyclists.

One second later puts us as far to the right as we can get, given all the gravel / debris / deteriorated asphalt along the fog line near the curb:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - front 1957
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – front 1957

Which is good, because four seconds after the green signal for Rt 55, the pack has overtaken us:

Burnett Signal - 2020-09-25 - rear 3
Burnett Signal – 2020-09-25 – rear 3

If you were the driver of the grayish car in the middle lane, directly behind the black one giving us plenty of room, you might be surprised at the abrupt lane change in front of you. Maybe not, because you had a front-row seat while we went through the intersection.

Elapsed time from the green signal on Burnett: 25 seconds. My point is that another few seconds of all-red intersection clearing time wouldn’t materially affect anybody’s day and would go a long way toward improving bicycle safety.

Unlike the pedestrian crossing upgrade, NYS DOT could fix this with zero capital expenditure: one engineer with keys to the control box, a screwdriver or keyboard (depending on the age of the controls), and the ability to do the right thing could fix it before lunch tomorrow.

But it’s just a typical bike ride on NYS DOT’s Complete Streets, where their planners & designers claim to “promote pedestrian and bicycle travel for all persons.” Maybe that’s true somewhere in NYS DOT’s fantasies, but you’ll find far more evidence from our rides, with plenty of numbers, showing that’s not the case around here.

Rt 376 at Red Oaks Mill: Semitrailer Squeeze Play

We’re southbound on NYS Rt 376, approaching the Wappinger Creek bridge at mile marker 1102, avoiding the overgrowth coming through the guide rail:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 01
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 01

Avoiding the pothole growing across the right wheel track:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 02
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 02

Normally, I ride to the left of that pothole, down the middle of the lane, so it’s easier to avoid the next section of overgrowth through the guide rail:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 03
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 03

This time, we’re as far to the right as we can get, because we’re being overtaken by a semitrailer trash hauler:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 04
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 04

Which is proceeding as far to the left as the driver can possibly squeeze it:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 05
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 05

Half a lane is more than we sometimes get:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 06
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 06

Away he goes:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 07
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 07

We always try to be friendly, because we’re sure to meet again some day:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - 2020-07-15 - 08
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – 2020-07-15 – 08

Mary says he waved back, so it’s all good.

Elapsed time: about twelve seconds.

For whatever it’s worth, eight years ago, NYS DOT Region 8 South Dutchess Residency did a much better job of clearing the overgrowth along Rt 376:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 - Royal Semi Squeeze - Google StreetView 2012-04
Rt 376 SB Marker 1102 – Royal Semi Squeeze – Google StreetView 2012-04

That was then, this is now.

Sharing the Road on NYS Bike Route 9: Squeeze Play

I’m southbound on Rt 376, a.k.a. NYS Bike Route 9, riding inches to the right of the fog line on the only sliver of navigable asphalt remaining after NYS DOT applied homeopathic scab patches along this section:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 - Near Miss - oncoming bicyclist and wide trailer - 2020-07-07
Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 – Near Miss – oncoming bicyclist and wide trailer – 2020-07-07

On the northbound side, another cyclist rides the sliver of pavement between the fog line and the gravel ridge built up from the deteriorating patches, being overtaken by a huge pickup towing a full-width quad-wheel trailer full of lawn maintenance equipment. The driver has eased about as far toward the yellow line as possible to give the cyclist barely enough clearance:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 - Near Miss - oncoming trailer - 2020-07-07
Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 – Near Miss – oncoming trailer – 2020-07-07

I am not “taking the lane”, because I’m towing a trailer of groceries and there’s always overtaking traffic coming around the blind curve behind me:

Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 - Near Miss - horn - 2020-07-07
Rt 376 SB Marker 1110 – Near Miss – horn – 2020-07-07

You can’t hear the car’s horn, but it’s right in my ear.

The white patches beside and behind the trailer are the fog line paint on the original asphalt surface showing through the disintegrating scab patch. Cyclists cannot ride safely on broken pavement with half-inch discontinuities, which is why I’m to the right of the fog line, mostly off the edge of the patch. If I “took the lane” as expected by NYS DOT, I would be riding about two feet into the lane, in line with the car’s right headlight, to avoid the wheel-grabbing longitudinal fissures showing through the scab patch.

Elapsed time: 10 seconds.

Just another day of bicycling on NYS Bike Route 9, one of the roads NYS DOT makes “safe and functional for all users.”