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:
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 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:
Fortunately, the driver figured it out before our paths crossed:
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.
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:
Much to our surprise, 17 s later the signal is still green:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
That building over there across Burnett is the NYS DOT Region 8 Headquarters, so we’re not in the hinterlands where nobody ever goes.
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:
Here’s what the intersection looks like behind me:
Another second goes by and we’re pretty much into the far right lane , with the westbound traffic beginning to move:
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:
After another second, we’re almost where we need to be:
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:
Which is good, because four seconds after the green signal for Rt 55, the pack has overtaken us:
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.
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:
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:
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.