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  1. #1
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    Need Your Help--Safety on Northern County TrailWay (Westchester Putnam NY)

    I am an avid cyclist on the NCT which runs through westchester and putnam counties in ny. This past weekend, I experienced frustrating and dangerous situations with drivers. I am sick and tired of certain crosswalks that are dangerous for Pedestrians and Cyclists to venture across. Some of these are around a corner, up a hill, or coming down a hill, which makes a driver in a car hard to see and hard to stop. Drivers are sometimes going at speeds in excess of 40mph. Many of these crosswalks have no street signs. This is a problem, bc if an accident were to occur, a person would not be able to give their location.
    Cars do not stop for Pedestrians and Cyclists waiting to cross at the crosswalk. Is this not a law? To yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks?
    This weekend, I had a driver stop for me and then as I was crossing (walking with my bike) he gunned the car at me and I had to run for my life. In the past, I had cars stop for me and then when cars would not stop going the other way, they would decide not to wait any further and drive off. I also have had cars stop and cars behind them beep and yell at them for stopping. This is discouraging and disturbing to see. I believe more signs about the crosswalks need to be put up to remind cyclists about the trailway crossing and the fact that it is a law to stop for us in the crosswalk. Where are the police??? They would have a field day with ticketing cars for not yielding and following the LAW.
    If you can help me find out the street names for the dangerous road ways that would be appreciated. I am planning to drive along the trail crossings to document the dangerous roads. When I am biking, street signs are not visible which makes this frustrating. Any other people feel the same about the Trailway? Any other stories that I can share with Westchester.gov?

  2. #2
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    My understanding of NY VTL is that they have to yield to pedestrians, not bikes. The rail trail by me has stop signs for bikes at all road crossings.

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    I rode the NCT as a RT from the reservoir to Carmel on the 14th (A Sat.) In that stretch there are 20 something road crossing and pretty much every time we encountered a car at a road crossing, cars waited for us. It was odd actually and I commented to my riding buddy that folks seemed unusually polite. Thus possibly you just caught an unusually bad day or I caught a good one.

    I agree that at some of the crossings, there is limited sight distance, so care is needed, but I've never had an issue, but not much to be down about speed except changing the speed limit on the roads and maybe better signage for cars ?. I've never driven these roads in question so cannot say what signage exists.

    I agree that there should be signage for users of the path to stop at the roads, this may actually be one of the few MUP's that doesn't have stop signs at road crossings, and I agree with rebel that bikes are considered vehicles and are not protected by a crosswalk, thus we need to stop and yield. As well, any vehicle stopping for a cyclist crossing the road is being polite, it's not required. I also suspect that as this trail system is older, possibly Westchester County never added the stop signs I've seen elsewhere (I think the Putnam section has them, not sure though). The idea of indicating the road being crossed is a good idea and I'd suggest writing to both the Westchester and Putnam county parks departments with your thoughts.

  4. #4
    negligent. slynkie's Avatar
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    I could be wrong but I believe that technically, cyclists crossing are supposed to dismount, and walk their bikes. On parts of the Bronx River pathway, they have signs to this effect. This would make you a pedestrian, and then yes it is the law that vehicles must yield to you.

    I don't ride the NCT too often, but I've always had cars stop for me..

  5. #5
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
    I rode the NCT as a RT from the reservoir to Carmel on the 14th (A Sat.) In that stretch there are 20 something road crossing and pretty much every time we encountered a car at a road crossing, cars waited for us. It was odd actually and I commented to my riding buddy that folks seemed unusually polite. Thus possibly you just caught an unusually bad day or I caught a good one.

    I agree that at some of the crossings, there is limited sight distance, so care is needed, but I've never had an issue, but not much to be down about speed except changing the speed limit on the roads and maybe better signage for cars ?. I've never driven these roads in question so cannot say what signage exists.

    I agree that there should be signage for users of the path to stop at the roads, this may actually be one of the few MUP's that doesn't have stop signs at road crossings, and I agree with rebel that bikes are considered vehicles and are not protected by a crosswalk, thus we need to stop and yield. As well, any vehicle stopping for a cyclist crossing the road is being polite, it's not required. I also suspect that as this trail system is older, possibly Westchester County never added the stop signs I've seen elsewhere (I think the Putnam section has them, not sure though). The idea of indicating the road being crossed is a good idea and I'd suggest writing to both the Westchester and Putnam county parks departments with your thoughts.

    Any non-motorized person attempting to cross at a crosswalk is considered a pedestrian in CT. You don't actually have to dismount anymore, and it is mandatory that cars stop for you as they would for a pedestrian. That said, its a much smarter idea to get off and walk across, either way you have right of way.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJCB View Post
    Any non-motorized person attempting to cross at a crosswalk is considered a pedestrian in CT. You don't actually have to dismount anymore, and it is mandatory that cars stop for you as they would for a pedestrian. That said, its a much smarter idea to get off and walk across, either way you have right of way.
    But this is NY, not CT. So CT VTL has no meaning here.

  7. #7
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    But this is NY, not CT. So CT VTL has no meaning here.
    It was really necessary to post that?

    The point I was making was to check your local laws.
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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    That may have been the point you wanted to make, but the point you made was a non sequitor about how it's done in CT. But I ain't mad at ya, I do it all the time.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I dislike these situatiosn and avoid them. I used paved trails like this when there are few rd crossings. the best trails have overpasses or tunnels for the bikes. maybe you can drive to another section of this trail where you can get your miles in without all the rd crossings?

    laws are meaningless if no one obeys them
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I have no idea about the manner in which you approach crossing these intersections, but I find that, as a cyclist, I need to "take control" every time I cross any road. If drivers sense that you're being non-committal about crossing, they will often assume that you are going to wait for them to pass first. Based on your description of your incidents, it sounds as if you and the drivers may have done the old "No, YOU go" wave before the drivers just decided to accept the invitation.

    If I am going to cross an intersection, I make sure to make solid eye contact with any driver who might be a factor in getting across safely. Then I flash some hand signals and wait for a response before I do anything. If I am NOT going to cross, I stay a good 5-6 feet back from the edge of the path and look completely away from the road so that my body language makes it clear that I have no intention of suddenly darting out into the middle of the intersection.

    Remember, most drivers do not understand how bicycling works and cannot read our minds. Have you ever noticed how cars will swerve all the way into the left lane to avoid us when we are riding as far to the right as possible? It's because they can not judge how far we might sway to the left at any given moment. I always make sure to wave cars on when they are lingering behind me, wondering how to pass.

    I'm not saying you're guilty of anything here. I'm just wondering, because I've been through a lot of trial and error to reach the point where I haven't had a close call with a vehicle in at least a decade.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I used paved trails like this when there are few rd crossings. the best trails have overpasses or tunnels for the bikes. maybe you can drive to another section of this trail where you can get your miles in without all the rd crossings?

    laws are meaningless if no one obeys them
    Ditto PapaToms well written post about how to intelligently get across an intersection.

    The South County Trail has 7 road crossings in 12 miles. The North County has 1 in the southern 7 miles before it sits on Rt 100 as a bike lane, then has 20+ in the last 24 miles of NCT and the Putnam County extension to Brewster. In my opinion the best part of the trail is the northern mileage, which is wooded and away from major highways, so even with the frequent road crossings, it's an more enjoyable ride.

    The very nature of the trail, being a former railroad in an urban into suburban area, makes it a bit different then something like the Downeast Sunrise Trail in eastern Maine or anything in Michigan, as example, which go for 10's of miles without seeing pavement. In Westchester and Putnam, there was no possibility to secure funding that would have allowed the trail to be dug under or raised above road crossings. It was touch and go to get the trail sections complete as it was, much less keep it maintained.

    FWIW, I rode a local bike path this morning and while I saw stop signs on the path requiring cyclists to stop and yield to cars at street crossings, there was no signage requiring cyclists to dismount and walk across the street. This path is owned and maintained by the State of NY and I suspect that if there was a legal requirement to dismount, they would put up signs indicating as such.

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    when I lived in Yonkers I would ride with friends on the Bronx River Parkway all the way to White Plains when they closed the highway on Sundays just for biking. that was really fun
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  13. #13
    Senior Member 02Pilot's Avatar
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    I ride that trail frequently. Some of the crossings are trickier than others, but I've never had any real issues. As noted by others, you need to take control of the situation when crossing. Certainly, if you have the slightest concern about drivers, even those that appear to be yielding to you, simply wave them on and cross when it's clear of traffic. All the crossings I'm aware of (and I ride from Millwood to Brewster) have stop signs for the trail, meaning traffic on the road has the right-of-way.

    IMO, the last thing we need is a bunch of police cruising the trail handing out tickets. In all likelihood, cyclists would be the recipients of the majority of those.

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