Posts Tagged Tax Dollars Asleep
I’m towing a trailer of groceries southbound on Rt 376 (a.k.a. Hooker Avenue in this section), intending to turn right onto Zack’s Way for a library stop.
T=0.00 s, car @ 26.4 mph, me @ 19.8 mph
The transverse cracks through the asphalt are a convenient 60 ft apart, with the last one 20 ft from the stop line, and the frame numbers tick along at 60 frame/sec, so you can easily compute distances, times, and speeds.
I’ll be turning right at the intersection. The light is green.
T= 2.07 s, car @ 26.7 mph, me @ 19.7 mph
Now I can see the car’s right turn signal, so this might not end well. I can’t jam on the brakes and avoid a collision by dumping the bike at speed; I’ll slide under the car in the middle of the turn.
T=4.15 s, 15.2 mph
I’m 20 feet from the stop line and, suddenly, the driver also realizes this might not end well.
What he doesn’t know is that my trajectory must use the traffic lane: the shoulder around the corner is deteriorated, with several potholes, and vanishes completely where the intersection paving ends.
The driver is turning wide, into the opposing traffic lane, but if I weren’t lining up for the turn, we’d be on a collision course. My line will take me just to the left of the seemingly tiny, but very deep, pothole just ahead.
Leaning hard into the turn, but our paths won’t cross.
I’m back upright in the middle of the lane, with the shoulder ending in a pothole to my right.
Remember, I’m wearing a fluorescent (“safety”) orange shirt, running a blinky light (which is also the rear camera), and towing a trailer with a fluttering flag: I am not inconspicuous!
In case there’s any question:
The rest of the ride proceeded without incident …
This might have had something to do with my email and followup from the Dutchess BPAC leader, all with absolutely no feedback:
To judge from the shattered stems lining the route, NYSDOT positioned an articulated rotary mower vertically and ran it along the guide rail, cutting the Japanese knotweed more-or-less flush with the rail, then cleaning up most of the debris. Absent glyphosate treatment, the bushes will return in full force next summer.
Even though the disintegrating pavement isn’t any more rideable than before, not having weeds brush our elbows and grab for our eyes makes for a much more comfortable riding experience; now, we’re set for the peak Halloween-to-Groundhog-Day riding season.
As NYSDOT says: “Maintaining roads goes far beyond the edge of the pavement.“
We recently had one of those rare “Get the fuck off the road” incidents on Raymond. To set the stage, we’re on our way for groceries and I’m towing the trailer.
The rear view shows the second car behind us veering far to the right side of the lane, trying to see around the car ahead of him, with much blowing of horn:
The big GMC had been following us at a reasonable distance from the Juliet roundabout as we trundled along Raymond at about 12 mph, riding out of the Door Strike Zone for well and good reason.
The GMC passed us at the end of the median, which let the impatient driver zoom up next to us. You can’t hear the horn that will blow as he pulls up next to me:
Our usual route takes us into Davis St, so Mary’s already leaning into the right turn. I think he intended to go straight on Raymond for at least another block to the arterial, but he made an abrupt right turn into Davis St directly in front of me:
Perhaps that’s to Teach Us A Lesson after all the horn-blowing?
I always ride behind Mary and slightly to her left, so that if / when bad shit goes down, I can bring it down on me, rather than her. In this case, she was safely beyond what was about to happen:
The wide-angle lens is deceiving, as I’m less than three feet from the car and closing rapidly; I’m obviously not turning as sharply as he expected and I’m not slowing to avoid a collision. There’s a parked car just ahead of Mary, to her right, and her path is as far to the right as it can get.
He apparently realized that Teaching Me A Lesson would produce a nasty scuff on the side of his shiny black car and, perhaps having spotted the helmet camera, a nasty loss in the ensuing insurance squabble. He also wasn’t willing to swing wide, head-on into the oncoming lane of Davis, so he stopped dead in the intersection:
That’s fine with me.
I continued wide past the parked car on Davis. He accelerated hard, decided, once again, not to ram me from behind, turned abruptly left into the parking lot, and proceeded to the eastbound arterial:
I’m stopped in that picture to aim the helmet camera backwards over my left shoulder. The car behind the white one is parked near the intersection, just to my right in the previous picture.
As nearly as I could make out, he shouted, in addition to the usual obscenities, “Roads are for automobiles!”, a surprisingly articulate word under the circumstances. Evidently, he hadn’t noticed NYSDOT’s “Share the Road” signage helpfully posted on the far end of Raymond.
Elapsed time from the Juliet roundabout to the parking lot: 45 seconds.
Maybe he had a cake in the oven?
NYSDOT seems oddly reluctant to perform routine brush clearing along Rt 376 from Red Oaks Mill to the Hamlet of New Hackensack, despite the obvious hazard presented by the bushes:
If it were a pleasant back-country lane, rather than our main route to the Dutchess Rail Trail, perhaps having the greenery take over the shoulder wouldn’t matter quite so much:
Turns out the shoulder just north of Maloney has developed lethal cracks as the pavement subsides into the adjoining section of the Mighty Wappinger Creek. A bit more clearance would still be nice.
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?
T = 1.000 — Me, neither:
T = 1.500 — Ah!
T = 2.000 — I’m flinching into the right turn required for a sharp left turn:
Less than half a second reaction time: pretty good, sez me.
T = 2.833 — End of the flinch:
T = 3.000 — Now I can lean and turn left:
T = 3.267 — This better be far enough left:
T = 3.333 — The door isn’t moving:
T = 3.567 — So I’ll live to ride another day:
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…
I reported this short cycle time to the Dutchess County DPW, back in September 2015, and got this response:
Thank you for contacting Dutchess County DPW about this matter. I will ask our Traffic Engineer to review the signal timing at CR 104/CR110 (New Hackensak/Jackson) to see if adjustments can be made. The primary factors used to set the current signal timing are operational efficiency, safety and Level of Service for motor vehicles. If there are signal timing adjustments which can achieve these goals and provide for safer passage of bicycles, we will explore those options. I will also ask our Traffic Engineer to investigate altering the sensitivity of the detector system to detect bicycles. I will share our findings with you. Thank you again for your comments.
Robert H. Balkind, P.E.
Dutchess County Department of Public Works
Emphasis mine, of course. Translation: “It’s not going to happen.”
I pinged him a few weeks later:
That review has not been done yet. I will advise you when our investigation is complete.
So, here’s what the signal timing looks like these days…
T = 0.000 s – Green
On the positive side, a pair of big long wheelbase recumbents stopped in the middle of the lane seem sufficient to trigger the traffic detector!
T = 3.150 s – Yellow
We’re definitely not fast enough off the block; Mary thought she had time for a sip of water. We started rolling less than two seconds after the green appeared, which is as fast as one should enter an intersection around here.
T = 8.000 s – Red
T = 13.000 s – Opposing Green
In round numbers, it takes us about 15 seconds from a cold start to reach the far side of that intersection. I can do it in a bit less, but Mary can’t, even though we’re in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in.
As with NYSDOT’s promises about the signal timing on Burnett Blvd, I’m not holding my breath about DCDPW getting in touch with me about that study; if nothing has changed after ten months, it never will.
Word from the BPAC meeting says that NYSDOT re-timed the signals on both ends of Burnett Blvd, because of the increased traffic from the closed bridges on Degarmo Rd. Here’s what that looks like from a bicyclist’s perspective; you may want to compare this with other measurements in the recent past.
T=0.00 – I’m approaching the light and obviously won’t get through on the current cycle. However, the car in the left lane is just clearing the sensor loop, so we know the sensor has been triggered:
T=4.133 – Signals turn yellow:
T=8.433 – The left signal turns red (the right signal will go on 4/60 s later), with the white car accelerating hard across the stop line:
As nearly as I can tell, the green-to-yellow change has decreased from about 7 s to maybe 4 s; that may be influenced by the car position / speed across the loop. NYSDOT definitely hasn’t increased the minimum delay to provide additional time for bicyclists.
The yellow-to-red transition may have decreased from 5 s to 4 s; it definitely hasn’t increased.
T=10.433 – The white car deliberately blew through the yellow and red signals:
T=12.000 – The white car has almost cleared the intersection, 3.567 s after blowing through the red light, and cross traffic in Rt 55 has started to move:
It’s impossible to tell from my position when the Rt 55 traffic saw their green signals, but they started moving 3.5 s from the time the signal in our direction turned red. I’d previously measured that at 1.333 s, so NYSDOT seems to have lengthen the all-red overlap.
T=14.433 – Cross traffic on Rt 55 fills the intersection:
That’s 10.3 s from the Burnett signal turning yellow, which usually happens when we’re just barely into the intersection; we need at least 15 s to reach the far side of all six lanes. Obviously, cross traffic on Rt 55 must notice that we haven’t cleared the intersection when their signals turn green and avoid running over us; that’s legally required, but it’s obvious NYSDOT (still) isn’t helping bicyclists get across the intersection.
The NYSDOT regional office behind my right shoulder has a bike rack. We’ve never seen any bikes in it, so it’s equally obvious NYSDOT doesn’t practice dogfooding. I’ve never been able to invite / persuade / shame anyone from NYSDOT to ride along with us, so they can show me why their design really does “mak[e] our highway systems safe and functional for all users“.