Maybe it wasn't head-strong bicyclists who started that little dust-up on Dairyland Road between the two-wheelers and a DOT paving contractor. Maybe, Orange County bike rider Ivan Bachelder says, it was the contractor's fault.
As the Road Worrier reported today (see column with reader comments), DOT is repaving the rural Orange County road, extremely popular with bike riders, and adding 24-inch paved shoulders on both sides. There were alarms when the paving contractor pilot truck found itself meeting cyclists head-on.
DOT and others said cyclists ignored a flagger's request to stop, and decided to go rather than wait for the pilot truck.
But at least in some cases, Bachelder said by email, the pilot vehicle drove too fast and the cyclists fell behind. Then, when making a return trip, the pilot truck met the cyclists head-on:
Well, as you know, the pilot truck is responsible for leading vehicular traffic from one end of the construction zone to the other. The problem is that many bikers cannot keep up with the pilot truck, especially given the length of the construction zone (over ½ mile, up a hill in some cases). If the truck driver is not paying attention, he may not realize that there are bikers that still have not yet made it across the zone, and therefore start back with a line of cars in the other direction. In other words, it is not necessarily because the bikers are ignoring the flaggers.
This is precisely what happened to us. We waited for almost 5 minutes when the flagger (who couldn’t speak English) told us to stop. We waited for the pilot truck, got in line behind the cars, fell behind, and then had to contend with the pilot truck and a line of 10 cars or so coming back in the other direction at us. We had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for them, and then also for all of the heavy paving trucks behind them. You can imagine our surprise and indignation that everyone in that line of vehicles gave us dirty looks as if we were in the wrong, when in fact we were doing exactly what we had been told.
The contractor, Riley Paving Co. of Carthage, posted signs telling cyclists to keep away from Dairyland Road until the paving work is finished.
DOT ordered the signs removed, reminded Riley that cyclists and cars have equal rights to share the road, and then issued a news release reminding everybody to be careful.
Maybe DOT should remind the pilot truck driver to keep those cyclists in his rear-view mirror.