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NYSDOT Puts Cycling Safety Signs on Route 9W [VIDEO]

The New York State Department of Transportation began placing signs along Route 9W in Orangetown and Clarkstown Monday to make the road safer for cyclists.

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Regional Director Bill Gorton began to address the small crowd at the entrance to Tappan Zee Elementary School in Piermont Monday when a loud noise interrupted him.

"That's a good sound," Gorton said.

It was the sound of the NYSDOT work crew putting up a cycling safety sign, one of many "Share the Road" signs which will be placed along Route 9W this month as part of a . Gorton said most of the signs will be up in the next couple of days, with the rest by the end of the month.

"What we identified is there are 20 locations along the biking lane and 9W corridor that we identified that could use new biking signs," Gorton said.

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) joined Gorton, members of the Rockland Bicycling Club and the family of Janet Martinez at Tappan Zee High School for the raising of the sign. Martinez was killed when she was struck by a car while riding her bicycle on Route 9W June 10, sparking more discussion of safety along the road.

Rockland Bicycling Club member Lila Moreno read a statement from Martinez's family and friends:

"We would like to thank the help we have had and will continue to receive from Assemblyperson Jaffe’s office on this and other concerns along RT 9W in Orangetown.  Our tragedy has highlighted a well-known public safety issue for residents, pedestrians and cyclists along this dangerous stretch of road.  We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received, and look forward to working to further improve the conditions for all."

Jaffee commended the NYSDOT for taking action quickly.

"The department of transportation has really been listening to the concerns of the community and very responsive," Jaffee said. "We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago and we talked about what was necessary and they responded very, very quickly.

"We feel like we’ve been heard a little bit," said Rita Joachim of the Rockland Bicycling Club. "It’s sad that it took another tragedy. Tragedies aren’t just tragedies. They are people that aren’t coming back and it’s enough already."

Joachim questioned Gorton regarding the state's decision not to lower the speed limit on Route 9W. She argued that even if it did not slow drivers, it would give police the opportunity to act by ticketing speeders.

She also asked that another study be done. The NYSDOT has done two studies in recent years, including one last fall.

"We do a study when we look at speed limit requests," Gorton said. "It includes looking at the roadway, the speed of traffic and the accidents and safety history. We take all that into consideration. You have to look at enforcement opportunities. A road like this is tough because it is tough to pull anybody over on. There is no shoulder.

"Just putting a 30 miles per hour speed limit down doesn’t mean everybody will go 30 miles per hour."

He added that motorists tend to drive at speeds that road conditions allow rather than the speed limit, and speeding is a problem on Route 9W even with the current limit. Gorton said consistency is key to roadside safety.

"That's why signs look the same here, Pennsylvania and California," Gorton said. "Speed limit expectations are part of that, too."

Joachim also asked about including reminders that drivers must give bicycle riders three feet of room when passing them on the road in signs put up by the NYSDOT, but there are no plans to do that at this time. Jaffee offered to help publicize the law to help increase safety for cyclists.

Carolyn August 15, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I have had good encounters with cyclist also but I have had a lot of bad because I live near 9w and Rockland Lake. we can agree on one thing both sides need to make changes. I wish the town took better care of 9w that would help. I am a indoor spinner also and love to ride outside in the good weather I wish you well but do know that it works both ways.
freebirdsteff August 15, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Signs are only as good as the people who read them and follow them.I drive on a stretch of road with the single file signs and populated by cyclists who pretend they can't read.What is annoying also is that they often swerve into the road and only look over their shoulder after they start, I obey all signs,rarely speed and would be devastated if I hit a cyclist. My respect belongs to the lone biker or family that is peddling on the side of the road..obeying all signs and respecting traffic.
betty carle August 16, 2012 at 08:33 AM
I am a cyclist who has had cars honk at me and I have been in the right of way. They are honking to have me get out of the way because i interfere with where they want to go at their speed. I have also seen cyclist who do not follow the rules of the road. Both parties need to be mindful and aware of others on the road. Consideration, good driving, and riding are needed! Let's all be aware of driving/riding defensively! Betty
jim kelly August 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Clearly both side have to make changes. I found the phrases "I am often forced..." and "...if ...the riders stayed on the other side of the white line" and "where are the signs that say bikes stay to the side of the road!!!!!" expressive of some common misperceptions - No one is ever "forced" across the line. Waiting a long time sucks, but cars are legally allowed to cross that double yellow line to pass a bicycle, as long as there is no oncoming traffic. - Bikes should stay to the right as far as is safe... but they are not required to stay to the right of the white line, and there are many legitimate reasons for them to be right out in the middle of the street (this does NOT include talking to their friends though). The riders failing to fall into single file when being overtaken are violating the law; the cyclist on the left side of the white line may not be. Sharing isn't always easy. A cyclists riding legally still will often be in the way of traffic, just as that backhoe on the way to a job is. In my opinion, courtesy, which is often lacking, calls for the cyclist to help find an opportunity for the car to pass, but patience, which is also lacking, calls for the car to WAIT unitl it is safe to do so, no matter how long it takes.
jim kelly August 16, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Well said!

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