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.”

Traffic Signal Timing: Vassar Rd at Rt 9

Our southbound bicycling routes take us through the intersection where Vassar Rd becomes NY Rt 9D at NY Rt 9. This is a large intersection:

Rt 9 Vassar Rd SB - distances
Rt 9 Vassar Rd SB – distances

It’s worth noting that Rt 9D and Vassar Rd are also NYS Bicycle Rt 9., so bicycle traffic is expected, if not precisely welcomed.

We’re traveling south on Vassar Rd, stopped in the right-hand lane (in the upper right of the picture). Eventually, the signal turns green:

Vassar Rd at Rt 9 - Green signal - 2020-06-21
Vassar Rd at Rt 9 – Green signal – 2020-06-21

The traffic to our left starts moving, we start pedaling, and ten seconds later the signal turns yellow:

Vassar Rd at Rt 9 - Yellow signal at 10 sec - 2020-06-21
Vassar Rd at Rt 9 – Yellow signal at 10 sec – 2020-06-21

The traffic hasn’t cleared the intersection, either, but they’re moving faster than we are. The first distance marker on the map shows we’ve traveled 85 feet at an average 5.8 mph from a standing start.

After another five seconds, we’ve traveled 80 more feet (at 11 mph!), almost the far side of the intersection. Which is a good thing, because the signals on Rt 9 have already turned green and vehicles are accelerating toward us.

There’s no point in reporting this to NYS DOT, because they don’t care and definitely won’t adjust the signal timing just for bicycles.

Traffic Signal Timing: Burnett Blvd at Rt 55

Nothing has changed since NYS DOT added another five seconds to the green phase on Burnett Blvd in front of their Region 8 HQ building to give bicyclists a generous ten seconds to cross six lanes of traffic from a standing start.

The Subaru WRX next to us will have no trouble clearing the intersection:

Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 - Green signal - 2020-06-16
Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 – Green signal – 2020-06-16

Ten seconds later, he’s far down the road (barely visible under the median signage) and I’m just lining up with the third traffic lane:

Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 - Yellow signal - 10 sec - 2020-06-16
Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 – Yellow signal – 10 sec – 2020-06-16

Four seconds later, traffic on Rt 55 gets a green signal and I’m almost lined up on the far side:

Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 - Rt 55 Green signal - 2020-06-16
Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 – Rt 55 Green signal – 2020-06-16

You’d think with all the emphasis on bicycling these days, NYS DOT would be receptive to change, but … there’s a reason I’m such a bitter, cynical person on that subject.

Monthly Image: Rt 376 Overgrowth Clearing

NYS DOT cleared the Japanese Knotweed from the shoulder along Rt 376 north of Maloney last year:

The last image in that gallery is from the end of April; you can see the weeds just starting to grow under the guide rail.

Japanese Knotweed, being basically a weed on crystal meth, becomes a lush hedge from a standing start in five weeks:

Knowing how NYS DOT’s Region 8 Dutchess South Residency’s brush trimming has(n’t) worked in previous years, this took us by surprise:

Rt 376 Marker 1095 - 2020-06-10
Rt 376 Marker 1095 – 2020-06-10

Because chopping Japanese Knotweed to the ground doesn’t actually discourage it, we hope they’re scheduled to return every couple of months …

Frozen Fire Hydrant, One Year On

It seems reporting a frozen hydrant to the local fire company didn’t produce any meaningful action:

Frozen hydrant - Sheldon at Rt 376
Frozen hydrant – Sheldon at Rt 376

We didn’t have any fires in the neighborhood where it might have been a problem, but I’ll try the water department this year …

Oddly, the water department repainted most of the fire hydrants along most of the roads last year. This one apparently didn’t qualify, for whatever reason, despite being only slightly off Rt 376 on Sheldon:

Frozen hydrant - Sheldon at Rt 376 - Google Streetview
Frozen hydrant – Sheldon at Rt 376 – Google Streetview

When it’s not frozen, it’s not obvious …